Ten common mistakes entrepreneurs need to avoid when building a startup – StartupSmart

I’ve had the awkward realisation while drafting this post that I’ve made a lot of mistakes in business.

On the bright side, the mistakes I’ve made are common pitfalls that a lot of people make when starting out.

Below are 10 mistakes that I made and you should avoid when launching an online business.

1. Overcomplicating it

If you’re new to the business of being an entrepreneur, my recommendation is to start small. It is easy (and overwhelming) to think that you have to build something large and complicated.

You probably don’t need a $100,000 app – actually, you may not even need a website.

I’ve learnt that it’s easy to overcomplicate simple solutions. I like to ask myself, “how would I have solved this problem in the 80s?” That question helps to draw your attention back to the important stuff like:

  • Am I actually solving a problem?
  • Do customers actually care about my solution?
  • What’s for lunch? (very important question)

I also suggest that you start with the basics. Read every business book you can get your hands on. Devour all the knowledge that comes your way.

Also, learn the skills that you need to build and run a business. For the first time, do everything yourself and start applying those skills to small projects.

I’ve done “the basics” a few times now. I’ve done everything from building my own websites, to creating graphics in Photoshop, and then building all of my own systems and processes.

I’ve drafted almost every single word of content I’ve ever produced. All digital marketing and PR was done by me.

2. Not training for a marathon

Sorry folks – starting an online business takes a lot of time and effort so I suggest that you fall in love with the process.

Don’t start a business unless you are deeply passionate about what you are doing and recognise that you’ll acquire some very valuable skills going through the process of starting your business.

3. Thinking you can do it alone

My determination to get my startup launched in Perth meant that I didn’t want to mess around with finding a co-founder.

I’ve since come to realise that it can really help to launch a business with a buddy.

Why? It’s simple. Some days you hate your business and don’t want to get out of bed. Also, it’s unfair to your mum if you’re calling her five times a day for a pep talk. Don’t be that kid.

4. Being afraid of customers

If you build it, they probably won’t come. It’s seriously hard to build a business so you need to speak to your potential customers from the very beginning.

Few things frighten me more than the thought of speaking to customers about my new idea. I fear rejection, as do most people.

The problem with this is that we start building a product without properly understanding the needs of the customer.
You need to know as much as you can about your customers. What are their needs? What are their pain points?

It will save you a lot of time (and a lot of pain) in the long run if you get this right. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

5. Not learning by doing

Starting an online business is a slow slog. The biggest mistake that people make is that they don’t just fucking doing it.

Take the baby steps and feel free to take it slow. Commit to one newsletter a fortnight if a weekly newsletter is just too much. Start with a simple social media calendar and then improve it over time.

Everything you will learn in business that you learn by doing. I don’t even care if what you’re doing isn’t perfect as long as you’re doing it and learning something valuable from the process.

Commit to doing one thing every single day that no one else is willing to do. After a year, you’ll be blown away by how much you have achieved with your business.

6. Being a cheapskate

I’m a bootstrapper at heart having self-funded every single one of my businesses. I know how difficult it is when you don’t have a lot of money to pour into your project.

However, I do believe that there are some things you should never skimp on:
• Good quality accounting and legal advice in relation to IP, business setup and agreements. Get all of the boring stuff right from the very beginning.
• Graphic design and branding. A logo designed on Fiverr for $5 looks like a $5 logo. Harsh, but true. Your business branding should be on point and reflect the successful business that you plan on becoming.
• Business coaching. An amazing business coach can help you rapidly acquire business skills and guide you through the process of building your business.

7. Not focusing on building a network

I’m not entirely sure if you can launch a successful business without a strong network.

I began actively networking two years before I launched my business and I consider it to be fundamental part of running and owning a business.

Also, cultivate a professional personal brand from the outset. Make sure all of your social media accounts reflect the authentic, successful and wonderful person that you are. The results won’t be evident straight away but your hard work will pay off very quickly.

8. Undervaluing your services

This was a big mistake I made with Buzzy; I undervalued the service I was providing thinking I could change it later down the track.

The truth is you need to spend the time figuring out what you’re really worth from the outset. If you’re a high-end product or service, then your pricing should reflect that. Otherwise, your customers will be getting confused and you won’t be making any money.

9. Wasting time on other projects

Early on I recognised that one thing that separated the successful entrepreneurs from the wantrepreneurs was that the true entrepreneurs didn’t waste their energy on five projects, they focused on one or two max.

Stay stubbornly focused on the one thing you’ve chosen to do. Visualise yourself as an eagle that has fixated on their prey.

10. Losing perspective

There is a myth that you need to kill yourself trying to make it in business. This is not an approach I prescribe to.

Your business will only be as healthy, strong and successful as you are. Work hard but treat your body like a temple. It is the vehicle that will help you build and grow a successful business.

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

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