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The Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Of Entrepreneurship [And How To Avoid Them]

The Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Of Entrepreneurship

The Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Of Entrepreneurship

The first year of anything is usually full of enthusiasm and high hopes.

For business and entrepreneurship especially, we all go in expecting to become the next Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.

We go in because of a triggering event - whether it's to prove someone wrong, to have more freedom or simply just earn more money.

Depending on the sort of person you are, you'll either spend the first few months learning everything you can, searching different businesses, "how to make money online," and consume everything possible.

For others, you might go in and start something based of some already existing knowledge you have.

You might have worked in a real estate agency before so you decide to start a marketing agency to help other agents get more bookings and listings on the market.

We're over the moon because we've finally decided to take a real leap of faith and count on ourselves to deliver what we promised.

The site is going well, the learning is easy and simple to understand.

We can already see our newfound life on the other side of a small mountain.

We're making progress, we're making some more progress and BOOM!

We're finally ready to launch our business after a few months of preparation and soaking up information like a sponge.

We have high expectations set for the next few weeks to a month, this is about to be amazing!

As soon as launch, it's like opening the floodgates, we're waiting for the customers and clients to flood in.

A few days pass, we're getting noticed, but nothing yet.

A few weeks go by, we've got quite a lot more views, and attention... still nothing though.

A month or two go by and it's just crickets.

"This business is rubbish, it doesn't work!"

We give up... we'll get 'em next time.

We failed to see the real hurdle over the small mountain.

Does this sound familiar?

It does to me.

When I first started my e-commerce business, I had high hopes of building up a store, putting out a few cheap adverts and cha-ching!

My dreams would have all come true within a few months of getting into entrepreneurship.

Months of work, learning and building go by and... you know how the rest goes.

I immediately blame everything other than myself.

Another few months go by, and I started to learn forex.

I spent another 2-3 months learning and consuming everything I possibly could about the charts, candlesticks, and the patterns or strategies I needed to know.

I felt like I could be a Wallstreet trader until it was time to finally put what I know to the test.

Luckily, I was using a dummy account and was able to see some sort of progress - but nothing feasible.

I didn't want to spend my own money and so I quit.

I've talked about my whole story until now previously and so I don't want to bore you to death with it again here.

So what are the biggest mistakes that I've made in my first year of entrepreneurship? 

MISTAKE #1

The biggest mistake when I initially started out was taking too long. 

Not taking long in getting into entrepreneurship, but taking too long in putting things into action.

Like the examples above, when I started a venture, I would learn everything I possibly could about that business model, I would scribble through an entire notepad until I had enough knowledge about the topic.

After all, the last 18 years of life have been just that.

Sitting in class and absorbing knowledge that goes on a piece of paper.

The Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Of Entrepreneurship

The issue with this approach is that as soon as it's time to put my notes into action, I feel like I don't know anything!

I feel like I'm not ready and I maybe need to go over the notes or take down some more.

This only prolonged the inevitable - trying and failing. Trying and iterating.

The reason I failed my first e-commerce store is because I didn't know how to run adverts.

I knew how to learn to do it - watch videos and implement as I go - but I made the same mistake and only took down notes.

So when it was time to officially set up my own adverts and run them, I expected a small budget of $5 per day to generate me $300,000.

A ROAS of 60,000.

Not very common, now is it?

Once I realised that I had spent $11 and make $0 back, I decided to quit.

MISTAKE #2 (and #3)

With all honesty, this is something I still fail to achieve even today.

Business and entrepreneurship is not much different from a job.

The only real differences are that:

  1. You're responsible for your own success
  2. You don't start with a salary
With that said, I thought I could do anything I want, when I want without any setbacks.

I would play PS4, endlessly watch YouTube and wake up or sleep whenever I wanted - after all, no one could tell me what to do.

I had no structure in my day, no set times to do X, Y or Z and yet I thought I was making some real progress.

I failed to treat business like a real job, something I'm obligated to do or else I'm fired.

I've never had freedom ever in my life, nothing to this extent, so I exploited it.

I slowly started to realise the sort of repercussions my actions could bring and toned it all down.

I stopped playing PS4 because it was doing a lot more harm than good to me. I noticed that I didn't truly enjoy gaming as much as I thought I did.

I only used it as a getaway mechanism to escape my retched reality. 

I would rage and get emotional over little losses incurred on a digital game and then noticed I was truly angry at myself.

Angry that I couldn't do something real for a change.

Angry that instead of going out and getting my hands dirty to really get what I want, I was using my time and throwing it away on a video game that meant nothing.

The second step was that I started to get into a rhythm of reading books every day, finishing one book a month.

This has been one of the best things I've done with my life so far.

I then started to carry around a notepad or have some paper handy. When I didn't, I even had a separate home page on my phone which displayed my digital notepad.

I used this to write down ideas, and things I wanted to get done in the day.

The reason I said I still struggle with this, is because for the longest time, I have struggled to wake up and go to sleep early.

Although it's drastically improved, it's not at the level I would be happy with yet.

It's important to mention that in my last blog, I talked about the importance of not punishing yourself for living someone else's life.

After doing something called the Chronotype quiz, I realised that this is just the sort of person I am and waking up at "4am because you have to" is not for me.

The Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Of Entrepreneurship

This reveals another mistake I made early on - trying to live the life of these other gurus by taking their word as is.

There are millions of new posts, blogs, videos and information on the internet every single day.

It's getting increasingly harder to filter out the honest content and the content from fake gurus who have managed to hypnotize their audiences.

Early on, I would consume a plethora of information without questioning it.

I took all the information I learned as the be-all and end-all, and a lot of it didn't work.

Mistake #4

Starting my latest tech business: Condensr, I've realised that there is one key principle to all of business and entrepreneurship.

Businesses and startups are like science experiments.

You're always going to go in with a massive list of unknowns.

The longer you stay in the dark, the higher your risk of failure is.

The quicker you're able to uncover those unknowns and figure out the truth behind them, your chances of success are dramatically higher.

Let's take person A and person B.

The Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Of Entrepreneurship
Person A has an idea.

He immediately goes on Wix, to start creating his site.

He browses through Skillshare to find relevant courses on the topic he's starting a business in and starts to take notes.

He spends the next 1-2 months learning, building and editing logos, sites and adding more features.

Person B also has an idea.

Instead of creating a site, person B lists the different assumptions he has, creates a list of audiences that the product might be solving a need for and goes to find those people.

He spends the next month talking to customers and learning more about their habits and problems.

The next month is spent building an MVP - a very simple version of the product using the information he's gathered so far.

Both person A and B launch during month 3.

Person A finds no success, no one is interested in his product.

Person B is getting valuable feedback from his customers and even collecting some early sign-ups or purchases.

The rest of the time is spent on iterating the product with more REAL feedback and getting more and more people to try it out.

2 months later, person B has a fully working MVP with product/market fit.

Person A had given up and is now learning about another business model. 

The Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Of Entrepreneurship
It hurts when I write about this scenario, because for so long, I spent doing what person A was doing.

The truth? I was scared to talk to customers and scared of launching and failing with a terrible product.

Now with Condenr, we're doing a lot better, and have a higher chance of success because we're following a better framework.

A scientific framework.

Instead of launching and hoping for the best, we're launching and experimenting.

An experiment will usually always fail at first.

You have to be able to learn why, and iterate it until it works (aka product/market fit).

With every business I tried - the e-commerce store, forex trading, clothing brand and the marketing agency - I made the same or similar mistake.

Along the way, I would hear lots of people talking about 'keep trying and don't give up,' but they fail to tell you how to try again to avoid the same outcome.

Like Einstein said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

If I kept trying and trying, doing the exact same thing I did prior, I couldn't expect new or different results.

I had to try again, using another method which comes through iteration.

I'm sure I made many errors, more than these four along the way.

How far are you in your entrepreneurial journey?

Have you made any of these mistakes?

Let me know in the comments!

Till next time,
Mohamad

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