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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 100 million lives in the last 6 and a half 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

5 Ways to Deal With Startup Uncertainty

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how to deal with uncertainty in your startup
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Starting your own company may sound like a dream come true in your mind, on social media, and to all the people looking on in envy from their office jobs. But when the fantasy fades, you realize how much uncertainty you now have in your life. The inherent risk in any startup is that you are trading the certainty of a normal job for real growth and freedom. What people get from office jobs is much more than a steady pay check and free coffee. It’s a sense of certainty that their lives, work, and finances are in order.

You will have to give up certainty to fully take on the risks of this lifestyle. It will be roller-coaster and something you need to prepare for. Logically, it’s easy to know that. But emotionally, there are so many ups and downs in an entrepreneur’s life. Stress, frustration, and decreased motivation are inevitable.

Here are 5 ways you can deal with startup uncertainty:

1. Stick to a morning routine

There’s many ways to start a morning routine. What’s important is to have a stable, predictable routine. This centers your mind and gives you some order to your day. You manage your business and you can do whatever you want. No boss and no one telling you what to do, it can be mix of productive to outright messy days. By giving yourself some stability, you start the day off in a predictable way so that you can jump into work each day.

It’s as easy as taking your dog to the park, having a cup of coffee, and listening to a motivating audiobook for 20 minutes. You may need meditation to get into the state. Whatever it is that you need to get from a sleepy/hungover mindset to that of taking on the day.

“If you win the morning, you win the day.” – Tim Ferriss

2. Make time for high performance books

Speaking of audiobooks, everyone – especially entrepreneurs, need motivation. Get a few motivating books from other business leaders. This will do incredible things for your mindset and the way you think. Most of them help by keeping you excited for bigger goals. Look for classics from Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins. Or the newer motivational personalities like David Goggins and Rachel Hollis. You’ll be surprised at how much hearing someone’s hardships on their journey will help you on your own.

3. Schedule your week

It’s easy to get a packed calendar working an office job. Everyone else in the company seems to be demanding your time for one meeting or another. Pointless meetings are even the reason some people leave their jobs in the first place. The issue with having your own startup is that while the pointless meetings are gone, so too is any semblance of structure from a filled up calendar.

Spend one evening and fill the upcoming week as much as possible. I recommend Sunday afternoons to think about your goals. Plan big tasks every day throughout the week. That way you always know what you should be working on and stay on track.

4. Hit the gym

This one is actually part of my morning routine and it’s benefits can’t be overstated. Exercise helps fight off anxiety and stress. There’s no better way to funnel your business frustrations more than into the weights. By the time you’re done, your body and mind will be much more relaxed. A necessity when it comes to the tension of being an entrepreneur. Whether that’s staring at your laptop or making sales calls.

“Daily exercise is an insurance policy for future illness.” – Robin Sharma

5. Be grateful

Gratitude was one of the feel good things that I always used to skip whenever it was mentioned. I wanted cold, calculated strategy or tools I could use to build a business as fast as possible. Many brilliant minds in not only self help but also in business, speak about the need for gratitude.

Here’s why it helps me when the business is going through growing pains or everything seems like it is going wrong. I get filled with doubt and uncertainty and gratitude is the quickest way to relief.

Yes, starting your own business is a massive effort, but there is always some job out there. You decided to launch something of your own because you don’t want a baseline existence. You want to grow and build with the freedom someone can only give themselves.

That alone is enough to be grateful. But if you need more, how about that most people are too scared to do what you’re doing. Or that you are taking the time to believe in yourself and live a life of taking chances.

That speaks to your character and self-worth. Much more than the life of quiet misery so many people in the world allow to decide their entire lifestyle. Be grateful you have this opportunity and make the most of it.

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Startups

The Best Side Hustle You Can Start Today In Just 15 Minutes

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The best side hustle you can start in 15 minutes is blogging.

It can be writing, making videos or speaking about topics you love through a regular podcast show. All of these acts are a form of blogging.


15 minutes is not long

That’s why blogging is a good choice.

A video that’s less than 15 minutes is easy to make and will work well.

A short piece of writing can be written in under 15 minutes.

A 10-minute audio conversation on one single question will give people heaps of value and detail in one particular area.

Starting is not where the power lies. Doing this side hustle every single day is how you get what you’re really looking for.


Many successful people are doing this

Whether it’s Hollywood actors like Will Smith or writers like Tim Ferriss or musicians like Ariana Grande — everyone is doing it.

Why is everyone doing the side hustle of blogging?

  1. It’s how we connect with each other.
  2. It actually works.
  3. It’s a way to create an audience which can become a business.

I didn’t invent this side hustle

I just tried it for myself and saw how powerful it was.

It got me:

  • New clients for my 9–5
  • A new 4 day a week day job
  • Clients to coach via Skype
  • Features in major publications like CNBC
  • The opportunity to meet amazing human beings like LinkedIn influencer Michael Chapman

The side hustle of blogging gave me meaning for my life

Before this side hustle, I was washed up, uninspired, negative and pissed off with the world.

Spending 15 minutes to start the habit of blogging got me out of my head. It forced me to search all over the internet and find things to talk about. Pretty soon I was spending 2+ hours a night researching personal development and figuring out what I wanted to blog about.

Blogging led me to want to help the homeless, share my very private battle with mental illness, come to grips with my startup failures and share the lessons, and even overcome my fear of public speaking in the process.

Now I have a meaning for my life thanks to the side hustle of blogging. I reckon it can do the same to help you grow and get you to the next level. You can blog about whatever you want and then watch it grow from there.


Why is blogging the best side hustle?

It’s how you be creative.
It’s how you express yourself.
It’s how you grow.
It’s how you attract the right people into your life.

There are many side hustles you could choose. Blogging is one of many. In my opinion and based on my experience, it’s the best. There are so many avenues you can go down.

Attracting what you want in your life has a lot to do with what you’re putting out into the world”

Blogging is a fantastic way to put out more of what’s important to you, into the world. Like a magnet, blogging attracts more of what you put out into your life.


Oh and don’t forget the income

Investing, giving back and making an income are all possible through blogging too. Part of my monthly income comes from blogging.

This allows me to back causes that help those in need, invest in stocks that provide me with a passive income and have money to spend on the occasional treat such as dinner dates and drinks with my co-workers.

That money comes from:

  1. Ghostwriting for other people
  2. Posting on Medium.com
  3. Coaching clients via Skype
  4. Consulting to businesses on how they can create content that aligns with their brand

There aren’t too many side hustles that can do that for you

Seriously, blogging is a game-changer. It’s a habit you can start in 15 minutes and repeat daily without much effort. Choose your poison — writing, video or audio — and then get started.

Do it for around twelve months and then send me an email with what you experience. I already know, having challenged lots of people already to start this side hustle, that it will work. It just requires patience and the habit of doing it daily.

15 minutes to start today.

And then 15 minutes every day for the rest of your life.

Try it.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Startups

You Are The Problem With Your Business

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A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.

I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.

Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.

Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?

Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.

The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.


Your company is a reflection of you.

It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.

One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.

The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.

In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.

The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.

The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.


Take responsibility and it will change.

When you own the business, everything is your fault.

You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.

The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.

Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.

Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.


Change is a must.

Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.

Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”

You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.

Change you.

Not the business.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Startups

The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up

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startup success
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You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.

How to Evaluate Success

As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.

But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson

The Numbers

When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?

The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.

So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.

1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems

The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.

This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.

In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.

2. Impact

Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).

In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.

“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins

3. Freedom

For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.

The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.

Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.

4. Time for Friends and Family

As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.

Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.

A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.

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