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What is it many new businesses all have in common? They tend to all make the same business mistakes when they start out. We thought it would be helpful to list them for you and offer ways to avoid them.
Ask any entrepreneur why they left their corporate life behind and they’ll normally tell you one of three things:
- To do what they love full time.
- They want to be their own boss.
- To live the dream.
They wanted to be free from the shackles of their 9-5 job. Focusing on doing what they really enjoy and excel at. Something that gives them back just as much as they put in.
And that’s exactly how I felt when I left my corporate position in early 2015.
Starry-eyed with a head full of dreams, I started on my entrepreneurial journey with expectations of how this new life would be:
- Clients would flow to me when I wanted
- I’d work hard and be rewarded for every risky move I made
- Every day would be uplifting
Only it wasn’t quite the case.
I was working more hours than I had in my previous job for a start. I was also trying many new things, only to see them fail. I also was seeing my bank balance dwindle with every passing week.
So I spoke to other business owners to see if they could relate. As I started to scratch beneath the surface, I saw that they felt the same. In fact, we had all made the same seven business mistakes.
Business mistakes that were severely hindering our ambitions.
In this article, I’ll outline the seven most common business mistakes, and what you can do to avoid making them.
MISTAKE 1: EXPECTING SUCCESS TOO SOON
While success in business may take months rather than years, it helps to keep a monthly log of everything you tried, what worked and what didn’t.
At least then, when you assess your progress in six month, you have a clear idea of exactly where you’ve been.
MISTAKE 2: CONSTANT COMPETITION COMPARISON
However, this becomes toxic when all you do is compare yourself to them, especially if you feel dejected when you read their success stories (and yours don’t follow a similar path).
Alleviate this by cutting off comparison altogether. Unsubscribe from their email lists, stop following them on social media and block updates from the Facebook groups that constantly scream about success stories.
This means you decide when you want to update yourself on their progress, rather than having the information pushed in your face all day.
MISTAKE 3: IGNORING THE STATS
Even if you have a small email list and aren’t hitting your monthly income goals, measuring what works and what doesn’t is a strong way to start as you mean to go on.
Look at email open rates for different subject lines, identify which activities get the most traffic or make the most money, and keep a monthly log of them.
Then plan to do more of those activities to build your business. As you grow, consider investing in business intelligence software to help you make better informed decisions, improve efficiencies, track goals and growth.
MISTAKE 4: GETTING TOO SOCIAL
Social media’s expertly tailored to speak to one of the most basic of human needs – connection. This is why so many people spend so much time browsing their Twitter feed, scouring Facebook or double-tapping Instagram.
And most entrepreneurs assume time on social media’s time well spent.
The truth is, while social media does help build your brand, it’s an investment for the long term. Currently, if the time you spend on social media sites doesn’t bring a return, then your time isn’t an investment – it’s a waste.
To help structure your day better, spend an hour on social media in total, and stick to those sites where your customers are more likely to be.
MISTAKE 5: SUFFERING FROM SHINY OBJECT SYNDROME
With a shiny, new course being released by your favourite teacher, it’s easy to get sucked in and assume it’ll have the golden bullet to skyrocket your business (especially when the sales copy’s so convincing).
To decide if it does, take a look at what courses or tools you’ve purchased in the last 12 months. How many of them have genuinely moved your business forward? How many of them have helped you achieve your goals?
I’m guessing not many.
Remedy this by either setting yourself an income goal, after which you can buy something else, or take a 12 month purchasing fast. Then focus your energy on using the courses and tools you already have to meet your goals (before you go on a buying spree again).
MISTAKE 6: WORKING ALONE
The silence in the room, the lack of water-cooler conversation, the voices in your head. It all takes a toll. Humans are social creatures after all!
While you may not replace old colleagues with new ones, you can explore where you live for viable co-working spaces and café’s to work from a few times a week.
Take this a step further and ask friends who they know that’s also a solo-preneur. Then make plans to meet with these people weekly so you can co-work together. Solidarity!
MISTAKE 7: CONSTANT FREELANCE MODE
When you’re a service provider and first start out, it’s easy to get sucked into the 1-1 client relationships and still exchanging time for money.
Be brave and take half a day a week (or every fortnight if weekly is too much of a stretch) to think of the bigger picture.
How can you turn your services into a revenue-generating product? What joint venture opportunities can you identify? Can you create a course or write a book that teaches your expertise?
We’ve all been there; stuck in our own heads and wondering when the day will come when business becomes fun. We went solo to enjoy what we do!
Know that it may take longer than you planned, and the course of events will change more than you care to admit, but keep at it and you’ll be one step closer to living the dream.
RISK BUSINESS FAILURE IF YOU MISS THIS ONE STEP
If I read this advice one more time, I swear I’ll gag.
Mainly because it’s new-age woo-woo theory that makes people hate their jobs, but mostly because it’s completely false.
If I were to follow my passion? I’d be making money by spending all day sprawled on the sofa eating fresh baguettes and watching re-runs of The Gilmore Girls.
That’s never going to happen.
So if following your passion isn’t the thing you’re supposed to do when it comes to starting your own business, then what is?
WHY DO YOU WANT TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Because your reason keeps you going.
An emotional connection to this reason means you push through the tough times in business (when you have a difficult client, or when you’re not making money), and makes the great times even better.
Is your reason altruistic? Do you see a gap in the market that your skills can fill? Is there a problem many people have that you’ve found the solution for?
Whatever your reasons for starting, make sure you’re clear on what they are or you may risk business failure. So your first action step is to:
Write down 5 reasons why you want to start a business
Cue: images of Richard Branson, Bill Gates and a very short Sir Alan Sugar in a leather chair.
How ambitious you are is entirely up to you.
You can be as humble as having a side-gig to your day job, or as industrious as aiming to have a multi-national business and thousands of employees.
How big do you want to go?
The size of business you create will influence the type of people you ask for advice, the research you do, and the mentors you have. Think about how you want the business to fit into your life.
I want to run my business from __________ (home, an office, anywhere in the world, Plant Mars (as long as there’s wifi))
I want to have ___ (number) employees
The final goal is to ______ (run my business along my job, sell my business, leave my job for this business full time)
That’s action step 2 ticked.
The last and final action step is to decide the business model you want to run with. What does this mean? It’s all about how you’ll serve your customers, and how you’ll earn money.
Here are some examples for clarity:
- Personal service: Nanny, web design, writer, coach, personal trainer
- Product sales: Clothes, jewellery, food, wine, coffee
- Subscription/membership service: Web hosting, gym/club, group coach
- Reseller: Affiliate products, Ebay
If you want to be a reseller, for example, you know that your business is reliant on finding the right products to sell to your customers with varying prices.
If it’s a personal service, you know you’ll have a 1-1 relationship with your clients and your earning potential is directly linked to the amount of time you spend.
So we’ve looked at why you want to start a business, and the type of business you want to build and the structure of it.
THE HONEST TRUTH ABOUT WHY YOU HAVEN’T STARTED A BUSINESS YET (THAT NOBODY WILL TELL YOU)
- Being your own boss.
- Creating a business around your natural talents.
- Or simply working from your own home.
- You’ve wanted this for years, so why you haven’t started a business yet?
Many people dream of having their own business. Whether it’s quitting their job completely, or having a side-business to supplement income from a full-time job.
Working for yourself is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Whether you want to create the next Google or have an extra £500 a month to spend on holidays and going out – there’s no limit to where you can go.
Starting a business isn’t for everyone. I know that a significant percentage of Money Magpie readers want to do it, but they simply haven’t started.
I’m interested in the reasons why. What are we telling ourselves that’s hold us back? What misconceptions do we have that need to be busted?
Let’s take a look at the most popular reasons why people don’t start a business.
Do you see yourself in any of them?
Your thoughts are your enemy … if you allow them to be.
Self-deprecation can lead you to think:
- I don’t have enough experience for anyone to take me seriously.
- When I tell my friends and family about my idea, they’re sure to mock me.
- Why leave my stable job? Even running this business on the side will mean more work than I can cope with.
And on and on your inner voice goes.
Fear will always be there, so rather than suppressing it; learn to embrace it.
Listen to your thoughts and find ways of addressing them so they don’t scare you.
For example, “I don’t have enough experience for anyone to take me seriously” can be addressed with:
- How can I get more experience in the area I want to do business in?
- Who else has started a business with no previous experience? What can I learn from them?
- What kind of business can I start where my lack of experience is a non-issue?
NO LIGHT BULB MOMENT
“Could I make a business work, but with the right idea”
“I have so many ideas, which one of them will work?”
Do any of these questions resonate with you? Truth is ideas are a dime a dozen. But taking those ideas and making one of them profitable? Is one of the biggest reasons why businesses fail.
Not because they didn’t make the business work, but the fact that they didn’t test the idea first.
The only way to know if your idea will sell? Is to sell it to people. Notice to plural (there’s a reason why 1-customer businesses simply aren’t sustainable).
IGNORANCE is bliss
Ignorance is bliss, until you need the knowledge you’re missing.
I get it, for those that use the internet for Facebook or the occasional gander at what Kim Kardashian is up too, using it to start and run a business can seem daunting.
- How do I register a domain name and get my website up and running?
- At what point do I think about that social media thing?
- How on earth do I build traffic and why doesn’t it involve cars?
These are just some of the thoughts that go around your head when you’re having a technophobe meltdown.
Fortunately, the answers to your questions are a quick Google search away. It really is that simple.
But I won’t leave you at the mercy of Google to answer these questions, we’ll cover all these and more, in up-coming articles.
Stay tuned! (Or do the smart thing and subscribe to updates).
Have you ever taken any of the following steps but not actually set up your business?
- Printing business cards
- Creating an all-purpose website
- Setting up Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts
Can anyone else sense procrastination?
A business that doesn’t make any money isn’t a business, it’s a hobby. It needs investment and commitment to get the ball rolling.
The beauty of this digital age we’re in? Is that the internet has made it cheaper to start a business now, than at any other point in history.
You don’t need to rent an expensive bricks ‘n’ mortar store to sell your products, your website is your store.
- Renting a meeting room for clients isn’t necessary, hop on a Skype call.
- Don’t look for physical office space, you can work virtually.
- The possibilities of business are endless, thanks to the internet.
- Because you can be your own boss, you can work from your own home, and you can master your destiny.
Razwana Wahid is the founder of Relentless Movement. A copywriting service for coaches who want to write bold and sell big. She’s the author of the definitive game plan for coaches to brand your business, market your services, and run your coaching practice like a pro.