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The 10 Biggest Small Business Startup Mistakes & How You Can Avoid Them

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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Startup Mistakes

Mistakes made can be our greatest teacher, so the best startup advice comes from the first-hand knowledge of what not to do. We spoke to some business owners who shared their hard-earned experience and the insight they gained from their own lapses in judgment.

If you’re looking to get your business off the ground, consider these following pitfalls.

 

The 10 What Not To Do’s When Starting Your New Business

 

#1: Not Anticipating Your Customers’ Potential Needs

If you decided to open up a cake business, did you even consider that a good number of your future customers will also need to have the goods delivered to them as well?

Many businesses entail additional needs aside from their core product or service. If you can’t provide this yourself, coordinate with a third party to make your respective services a seamless package for your clients.

Taking the time to plan ahead will add to customer satisfaction and avoid headaches before they happen.

 

#2: Jumping The Gun

Although skimping on the essentials (e.g. a reliable computer) is a no-no, it’s dangerous to squander all of your resources at once. Allow yourself enough time to make the inevitable mistakes that will help you refine your business plan.

Give your business time to evolve organically and hold off on spending too much capital in the beginning. In the long run, you’ll need the financial leverage to make the necessary adjustments after you’ve experienced the hands-on feel of your business.

 

#3: Not Having A Unique Selling Point

Surprisingly, an alarming number of new business owners ignore this piece of startup advice. Everything starts with a vague idea, but you won’t get far if you haven’t refined exactly what you want your business to do.

To help you with this, think of the top three problems that your product or service solves. Being very specific about these fundamental goals adds clarity to your business goals and focuses your limited resources in the right direction.

 

#4 Starting Without An Online Presence

This one here could be the #1 mistake moving forward in the future of business. Nearly every company out there nowadays have some sort of an online presence whether it be a Facebook page, Twitter account, website or domain name & e-mail. If you have none of the before mentioned then you have made it incredibly hard to be found by the rest of the world.

We are in the age of silicon business, where most people shop online, google for company contacts and e-mail instead of picking up the phone. If you have not even considered being part of the online world, you will be left behind as most competition understands that the eye balls have shifted from hard copy Yellow Pages to search engines and mobile internet access.

Even if you have drummed up enough interest in your startup, you also need to be prepared when word gets around and people beyond your network start looking you up online.

 

#5: Relying On One Client

In a perfect world, every customer you acquire will remain loyal to the end, but everyone knows how fickle-minded they can be.

Are you prepared when your “cash cow” suddenly leaves you for greener pastures? Try to keep your eyes open for other clients who can bring in solid business.

 

#6: Believing The Flexible Hours Myth

When your business already has some considerable momentum going and you’ve gone past the growing pains, you’ll eventually be able to work less hours.

When you’re still starting out however, this really isn’t an option just yet. Remember, the amount of time you invest in your startup is just as valuable as the monetary capital needed to make the business grow.

The reality is that you’ll probably need to put in longer hours than your employees in the beginning. Until things have settled down a bit, you may want to hold off on your dreams of working four days a week.

 

#7: Being A Control Freak

Learn the importance of delegation. Although we said that you need to put in the hours to make your business grow, that doesn’t mean you should do all the work. In many ways, you need to see things from an eagle-eye perspective and appropriate the right staff to make whole machinery work.

Furthermore, don’t hog the decision-making process to yourself. Get your staff involved and collaborate ideas. Like they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

 

#8: Ignoring Your Customers

What kills most business startups is simple ignorance of consumer feedback. Bear in mind that one of the most basic goals of any business is to help your customers achieve their dream scenario.

So, it’s important to consider these questions: is my company moving towards or away from this goal? Am I asking my customers for feedback so I can improve potential parts of my business and am I engaging with the public to find out their needs and how we can best supply them with our service.

Setting up a system that helps you answer these question from time to time is the closest thing to having a crystal ball that will help you see a bright and potentially strong future.

 

#9: Not Having Enough Nerve

More than a few owners have claimed that the best way to build a startup is by using other people’s money and none of their own.

This startup advice might be too extreme for you, but you can apply this in a more realistic way. For instance, your web programmer cousin could build your website for free; maybe your best friend who happens to be a lawyer will be happy to lend a hand with the legal paperwork.

Don’t be afraid to pull some strings or call in some favors. Chances are, your family and friends will be more than happy to offer their support – and it doesn’t always have to be the monetary kind. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

 

#10: Not Knowing Your Market

Who exactly are you targeting? Tech-savvy computer users? Other business owners interested in results and not data? Web-challenged homeowners who need your caring guidance?

Zeroing in on your niche is a must because your marketing and all other business operations will depend on this key aspect. By having a crystal-clear idea of who you’re selling to, you can further sharpen your unique selling point (see # 3) and give your customers what they want.

 

Every business owner wants to be their own boss, so heeding sensible startup advice will help you enjoy the benefits of entrepreneurship and avoid the typical mistakes that will slow you down.

 

Article By Joel Brown | Addicted2Success.com

I am the the Founder of Addicted2Success.com and I am so grateful you're here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring likeminded people to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances.I'm proud to say through my podcast and through this website we have impacted over 200 million lives in the last 10 years.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. David

    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Completely agree with these startup mistakes.

    These are the most common startup mistakes which almost every startup founder is making. There are so many common startup mistakes including:

    1. Having only one founder
    2. Launching too early
    3. Spending too much

    These 3 mistakes are very much common.

    If any startup has only one founder then they are more likely to fail because one single person can’t be able to handle all aspects.

    Having multiple founders helps find different solutions when you have any kind of problem because different brains think differently and generate different ideas.

    Some people launch their startups too early even if they aren’t ready for it. So It is not good.

    And people also spend too much money after starting their startup in order to generate instant result which isn’t good either. They just have to keep calm and work hard.

    I am glad that you have listed all the major mistakes here. So Thanks for sharing it. 😀

  2. Shunmuga

    Nov 16, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Thanks Joel for this great article. I become a die hard fan of Addicted2Success for a year and so and you are doing great. I follow Addicted2Success on both FB and Twitter.

    This is really a great article . May be I read it late but I read it at right time. I am planning to start a small business in my city to BE MY OWN BOSS but I struggle to do it because I am working in a Corporate and I desparate to lose my default earnings. And I get no mental support from my family to start a new business on my own.

    They are afraid of the risks involved and they are not willing to leave my job. But I still have hope and get a great motivation and support from Addicted2Success through all your articles and inspired day to day.

    Hope I start my new small business soon. 🙂

  3. Shelley

    Mar 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Great tips! I need to go back reread #7.

  4. Chris Enderby

    Jan 5, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Wow what a great article, simply laying out the common mistakes that we as leaders so often overlook. Talking about Internet marketing, I see it all the time with new business’s neglecting the great and wonderful world of the Internet. If your not on the net, statistics show that you will loose 54% of potential customers, wow that matters!!

  5. Dora

    Jan 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    One of the best decisions I’ve made this far is following this account on Twitter. I’ve learned so much within a matter of days. Thank you.

    • Joel

      Joel

      Jan 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Great to hear Dora, thank you for letting us know that 🙂

      Hey Chris, thanks for those Stats, that definitely shows how much the internet really matters to your business.

  6. Shirley Mansfield

    Dec 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Great reminders for us all as each point is just as valid for an existing business as they are for a start-up.

    My number 11 would be ‘Not Knowing Where you Are Going!’

  7. Dave Kot

    Jun 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks so much for creating a great ToDo list- this information is a great reminder to me, and a grand refresher to keep my business in line now!

  8. Build Seo

    Apr 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I think there are going to be mistakes anytime a business is started but some mistakes can b detrimental to success. I was a controll freak when I first started my business and that is something I am still working on.

    Businesses starting without an online presence is the whole reason I started my Internet marketing business.

  9. Julia

    Mar 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Great article! I just realized that I don’t have clear understanding what are the three problems my business solves. Makes me think about it.

  10. EntreVille.ca

    Mar 20, 2012 at 3:10 am

    I sooo agree with #4, that BUSINESSES MUST HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE! The first thing I do when I come across a new business is check out their website and I get very frustrated these days when restuarants don’t have a website with a menu on it! How can I order from you if I don’t know what you have. come on I’m hungry here! 😉

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Startups

How to Create a Winning Startup Culture

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Some time back, in my infographic on 51 Business Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs Make, I had outlined that one of the biggest mistakes is that you do not give any thought as to what you consider would be a great startup culture. And, without good policies or HR to keep things in check, the startup begins to develop a toxic business culture. (more…)

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Startups

51 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dream Startup

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startup mistakes
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So you’ve got an idea. You know it will work. And, it means the world to you.

You are an entrepreneur and you think you can rock the world with this one idea that matters to you the most. And, you set out to form the idea into a startup that you are going to nurture and develop into a blooming business in the upcoming years.

However, I don’t want to throw water over your dreams but, I do need to bring this “optimist” you into the hard and cold reality…….. the reality which says that 90% of all startups fail.

Of course, this can bring a great deal of uncertainty into your life and you got to be prepared to deal with it. You are also going to face a ton of challenges in your life which will force you to grow as an entrepreneur. But, the important thing is that you stick with it.

Of course, as Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s friend) once said, “All I Want to Know is Where I’m Going to Die So I’ll Never Go There”. No entrepreneurs want their startups to fail after putting in days and weeks of effort into it.

So, a lot of research has been put forward into knowing what does actually sabotage a startup?

Fortune reported that the single biggest reason startups fail was because they do not identify what the market wants before setting up their startup.

However, it isn’t as simple as that. An entrepreneur needs to perform a comprehensive business plan before he sets out with his business idea. Also, you have to know whether your business idea actually suits you or not. If it doesn’t then, you either you need to fine-tune yourself with your business idea or you need to change the business plan so that it suits you.

And, it is only after that, should you venture upon your startup.
Now, is that all? Of course not. The problem most entrepreneurs face when they first begin their entrepreneurial journey is that they don’t know what they don’t know.

That’s where they tend to make a series of mistakes that may cause great harm to their startup.

That’s why I scoured for successful entrepreneurs to provide me with information on what they think were the most common mistakes that startups do. Plus, I also got tips on how to avoid these mistakes.

You can check out the original article here: 70 Mistakes Startups Make And Tips On How You Can Avoid Them

Now, it’s your turn to do some work. Let me know what you thought of these mistakes and tips that entrepreneurs commit. Do you know of any other mistakes that entrepreneurs do? Comment below!

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8 Key Factors That Discourage Investors From Putting Money Into Your Startup

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how to find funding for your startup
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Today’s ideas are tomorrow’s winning businesses. Ideas executed brilliantly and with proper investment bring your business success. That is how the world of business got the likes of Apple, Google, McDonald’s, Amazon and so on.

But why in spite of the brilliant and promising ideas at the core of their business, many startups fail to attract investors? Why do investors hesitate to put their money into some startups? Well, investors have reasons and only by deciphering these reasons we could get hold of some deterrent factors that hold them back.

Let us explain some of the vital factors that prevent investors from putting their money in the startups below:

1. Inefficiency or Absence of Leadership Qualities

Inefficiency is the most significant deterrent factor for pulling the success of most startups. This can also be referred to as the lack of leadership qualities. Investors always want to make sure that they don’t lose their money through a company that has an extraordinary business model but no efficient and skilled business leader to make it successful. When fetching investment from investors, you need to offer a clear prospect and detailed plan of how you are going to achieve the goals.

2. Lack of Trustworthiness

An investor puts his money on a venture purely on the basis of the credibility and trustworthiness of the business. This is why besides having a sound business plan with clear objectives, you need to establish the integrity in terms of the security of the investor’s money and how the fund is going to be invested to give results as per business plan.

If an investor has a feeling that the startup may not have enough customers to fulfil its financial liabilities or if it finds that the business is hiding some information, it may further push the trust of the investors down. Total transparency and establishing the faith of the business brand are crucial for finding investors in favor.

3. Lacking Experience in Business Management

You have a great business idea backed up by a sound business plan and solid trustworthiness based on your background, but you have zero experience in managing a business. This is a serious reason for an investor to deny making any investment in your business. An investor cannot put his money just to allow you trying and learning your management skills the harder and riskier way. Uncertainty is the single biggest turn-off factor for any investor and lack of managerial experience is synonymous to that.

4. Business Model is Not Sound Enough

You have a business idea, some efficient, competent and experienced professionals as leaders, the great stamp of trust and pretty much everything that make a company look promising. But what about your business strategy and business model? Are they sound enough to take on the market competition and challenges for business growth? Well, this is what investors are most interested in.

In most cases, a business model is what makes an investor think twice and even take a backward step from investing in a startup. After all, your business model and strategy will decide how your business and products will be able to withstand competition and become victorious.

5. Taking Investors for Granted

This is a big mistake on the part of many startups. Just by becoming confident in the potential and the soundness of the business model and prospect, a business can consider getting investors on board requires just a little effort and time. But in reality, getting investors on board is the toughest thing a business can think of.

This is why without proper and meticulous preparation, it would be foolish to approach investors for your business. Most investors receive hundreds of such emails and a similar number of approaches through other means and they coldly just let them pass. This is why you need to send them very detailed proposals backed by strong recommendations and referrals.

6. Targeting the Wrong Investor

Every business has a target customer base, right? Not all customers are interested in every product in the market. Similarly, not all investors are interested in your business. Investors based on their prior experience and industry exposure, put their money in businesses that they know like their own palm of their hand.

So, targeting an investor who has no interest in your business will only drain your energy and bring you unnecessary frustration. When you are seeking investors for your software startup, don’t approach someone investing in real estate business.

7. Non-Realistic Proposal for Funds

Investors normally come with huge experience of your industry and so they have a clear idea about the fund requirements for your business startup. Moreover, they already have invested in other ventures or have gone through many proposals. Naturally, they have every bit of estimate already in their mind. So, any proposal claiming a lofty and unrealistic amount will only face rejection.

This is why it would be wise to become meticulous about your estimation of the required fund and calculation of various cost factors. Have meticulous details about every facet of investment backed up by breakup of the costs. Only when you can convince them with correct estimation, investors can take interest in discussing the matter further.

8. Make Sure Your Product Solves a Customer Problem

Will any investor put money in building a simple calendar app now? No, simply because such an app idea has no value for the end users now. Will an investor put money in a product that has already been outdated and has no use? No, no investor has to even go through such a proposal for dismissing them.

Well, to fetch investment, your product must be thoroughly customer-centric. It not only has to solve a problem but has to deliver some competitive value in comparison to similar products in the market.

Obviously, finding an investor for a new business is not an easy task, considering the huge competition that businesses need to deal with. But, if your business idea is unique and you fill all those requirements correctly as mentioned above, finding investors may not be as tough as it sounds.

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5 Must Have Branding Tools for Your Startup

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Your brand is more than just the colors on your website. And for startups, it’s important to create a strong and memorable brand from the beginning if you want to stand out from the competition, scale your company, and find your ideal customers faster.

Here are 5 simple tools that will help your company avoid branding mistakes, take charge of your visual identity, and set a solid foundation for future growth:

1. Graphic Design Software

The word “design” doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before deciding on your startup’s logo, colors, designs, and overall tone, consider working with a brand strategist who can translate the core ingredients of your startup into a visual identity that speaks to your target market.

Brand strategists have expertise in the psychology of colors, shapes, textures, and words, and they will work with you to make sure that your branding appeals to your target audience. Once you have those basics of your brand established, there are several tools that can help your company refresh and maintain your visual identity.

The absolute best graphic design tool for non-designers is Canva. While the free version has a lot of functionality, the paid plans offer more customization such as the ability to import your exact brand fonts and colors.

But if your company handles all of your design in-house, you will need something more advanced than Canva. In that situation, I would recommend Adobe Creative Cloud to startups who work on their designs in-house, as it includes top-notch design software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, and more.

“Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room – Jeff Bezos

2. Visuals & Creative Imagery

Have you ever wondered where your competitors get those beautiful branded photographs that end up on their website? While it’s possible that they worked with a photographer, it’s also likely that much of their imagery comes from stock photos.

Here are my recommendations on the exact places to purchase stock imagery to improve your company’s branding:

  • Creative Market – A treasure trove of quality visual imagery where you can buy anything from stock photos, to branding mockups, to social media templates (Facebook cover photo, anyone?), to custom fonts… the options are nearly endless.
  • Adobe Stock – Beloved by designers, and the platform offers tiered pricing plans based on your image needs and download quantity.
  • Pixels – If you’re on a tight budget and just need to grab an image or two for a blog post, you may be able to find what you need on Pixels – which is great because all of the photos and videos on Pixels are free!

3. Social Media Scheduler

You’re a leader. You’re an entrepreneur. Your staff, board, funders, and admirers depend on you to make big decisions, lead the ship, and plot the vision towards your company’s future. You don’t have time to stare at a blank screen every day wondering what to post on Facebook.

By using a social media scheduling tool, you can sit down for a few hours, schedule batches of content, and schedule the dates and times when it will post to your accounts over the next couple of months. Then, once the content is posted, you only need to worry about responding to comments and engaging with your customers. 21st century efficiency at its finest.

Popular social media schedulers include Buffer and Hootsuite, both of which include free and paid plans. Not sure what exactly to post? Check out these social media ideas from influential businesses. And if the idea of writing and planning months of content still overwhelms you, our next tool will help you stay organized and on-brand.

4. Editorial Calendar

When it comes to your content, it’s time to step it up a notch and start thinking like a media outlet. Every piece of content that you put out as a company, whether it’s an e-mail blast, blog post, social media post, podcast, or video, needs to be aligned with your brand.

Each major magazine maintains an editorial calendar which outlines the overarching theme for each of the upcoming 12+ months. By establishing a monthly content theme in advance, they create a framework to generate and organize their ideas.

Consider creating an internal editorial calendar that will guide your startup’s content over the next 6-12 months. The software tool you use to maintain your editorial calendar isn’t that important — I like to use Trello, but you can also create a simple numbered list in Google Docs or Microsoft Excel. You may be surprised at how quickly the creative juices flow once you have an editorial calendar in place.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand

5. In-Person Networking

Offline efforts count towards your branding too! And if you run your entire startup from behind your laptop screen, you miss out on ample opportunities to build your business offline and gain local referral partners.

If you’re new to in-person networking, start by visiting Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com where you can browse for events in your area. Think outside the box when it comes to selecting events to attend. For example: If you’re a chiropractor, it makes sense to attend local holistic health meetups. But you could also attend a travel event and meet digital nomads who don’t yet realize that a chiropractor can help them recover after long plane rides.

Remember that you’re not at the networking event to make instant sales, you’re looking for referral partners and connections. Don’t be the person who tries to shove your sales pitch down everyone’s throat upon meeting them.

As you can see, there are many simple online and offline resources that can help you spruce up your branding, reach new customers, and pique the interest of your target market. If you take branding one step at a time and start with the tools above, you will be well on your way to creating a brand that your customers will cherish and remember.

Have you used any of these branding tools before? Are there any additional tools that have helped your startup’s branding shine? Share your thoughts below!

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