5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business

Start-ups face an uphill battle--from financing, to hiring, to distinguishing themselves from the vast crowds of competitors fighting for market share and publicity. The potential rewards might be great, but there's a lot to navigate between here and there.
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Start-ups face an uphill battle--from financing, to hiring, to distinguishing themselves from the vast crowds of competitors fighting for market share and publicity. The potential rewards might be great, but there's a lot to navigate between here and there.

In the process, they commit many mistakes. The nature and extent of mistakes an entrepreneur might commit differs according to what start-up he is involved in, yet, there are a few basic mistakes, which startup entrepreneur normally commit. Such mistakes usually remain the same irrespective of the nature of business.

Over time I've learnt both financially and emotionally that learning from others and leveraging their experience is a lot smarter than trying to learn everything on my cord. Life is too short to make every mistake and learn from it yourself. Therefore, it's imperative to learn from the mistakes and failures of others so that you don't repeat them.

Having said that, here are 5 entrepreneurs who have been in the trenches and made it safely past the minefields of starting their first business.

1) Know Who Your Getting Into Business With

"Agreeing to go into business with a colleague without taking enough time to really get to know them in the work was by far the biggest mistake I've made when first starting a business. In the rush and the excitement of starting a new business, it was hard to imagine anything going wrong.

However, it didn't take long for both of us to discover that we actually saw things too differently for our partnership to work. The fallout and disappointment nearly killed the enterprise before it had even begun.

The best way to avoid making this kind of mistake is to start more slowly, tame the excitement and impatience and take the time to get to know each other. Do some pilot projects together before making any commitments or setting agreements in place" Brigid Nossal - National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia

2) Get Clear On Your Target Market

"Starting a business based on what I want rather than what my customers want was one of the biggest mistakes I made when I started my first business. Success in any business is based on giving your customers what they want but when we start a business, we often do so based on what we want and our skill sets.

Instead, we should look at what our customers want and how we can use our skills and strengths to satisfy their desires. It's a small but pivotal distinction. Be clear on who your customer is. If your customer is everybody then it's nobody." Niro Thambipillay - Underground Success

3) Don't Try And Do Everything Yourself

"The biggest mistake I made was trying to do everything myself, or better still, believing that I had to do it all myself. Everything from the administration to client meetings, the sales calls etc. This left very little time to create consistent cash flow.

Asking for help, hiring contractors and building systems helped me understand the various roles and responsibilities, necessary to grow my company. I realised it's ok not to know everything and that, if I were to fail, fail fast and start again.!!" Charlie Whitfield - Whitty Apps

4) Stay True To The Vision

"In one of my businesses, I designed "interactive broadcasting" content, intended to bring people from around the world together. We were on a meteoric growth path and attracted a lot of attention from the venture capital community.

But I was given advice from VCs who wanted me to turn the business into a platform technology. I listened to their siren song of fame, power, influence and wealth and changed direction of the business.

But these types of businesses are significantly different. I lost focus. I became indecisive. I made decisions I was unprepared and inexperienced to make. Eventually, I had to close the business down.

From that experience I learnt that you should never lose touch with your core values and the reason why you got into business in the first place, never allow your vision to be swayed by things you can't control and don't try to run a business that you have no experience in" Jim Herrera - Perceptive Insights

5) Focus On The Right Activities

My biggest mistake was not applying the 80/20 rule (also called the Pareto principle). It helped me understand that in life roughly 80% of your results are generated from 20% of your efforts or in business 80% of revenue comes from 20% of clients. Without fully understanding which activities produce the greatest results I spent my time focussing on the trivial many instead of a crucial few.

Write a list of all the tasks and outcomes that you are responsible for in your business and then ask yourself which of these tasks you enjoy the most and which adds the most value to your business and you will quickly see how to get the best results from your efforts" Mike Sikar - Delta Financial Group

Starting a business isn't always easy, if it was everyone would be starting one. There are so many things to think about and decisions to make; the pressure can cause any entrepreneur to make a poor decision that can hurt your potential for success, or at least set you back.

While there isn't a fool-proof plan to reach start-up success and naturally you will make mistakes along the way, I hope the lessons learnt from this article will at least save you from making the same mistakes.

I'm curious to know. What's been your biggest mistake whilst starting a business? And what measures can other entrepreneurs put in place to avoid making the same mistake?