Making mistakes as an entrepreneur is inevitable.
There are going to be hundreds, even thousands of things we simply don't know.
When I first started my e-commerce business selling back stretchers, I quickly found myself in a whirlpool of trouble.
Wherever I looked, there was something I didn't know and so I scurried to YouTube in pursuit of a helping hand.
Here are the biggest mistakes I made in my first year of entrepreneurship so you can cut a few months off your journey.
Almost two years later, I still find myself in a similar situation - there is still so much I don't know, if I did, I would have a wildly successful business right now.
Although it's easy to learn new things, the hard part is applying those principles effectively in the real world.
You might know everything, but knowledge doesn't always win in business - it's grit, determination, and hunger for success that triumph.
In entrepreneurship, it's usually things that don't need skill and talent that are important - being talented is only a small part of the bigger picture.
This misconception can trick a lot of business owners, leading to failure and mistakes down the line.
In this article, we're going to be discussing the 8 most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a business.
Picking the wrong business
The business you decide to start will be something that you're going to stick to for years to come.
That's why it's important to pick the right business for you.
A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of picking something based on FOMO (fear of missing out).
They see lots of people talking about a business and so they also decide to jump into it too.
Instead, you're going to want to look over your strengths and your interests here.
Passion could also work, however, I would suggest against it since it's never worked out for me.
A lot of the time, you're not going to be able to monetize something you're passionate about.
Let's say you like to cook - it's pretty difficult to start a restaurant.
Although you could do cooking lessons online as a freelancer, it's not something that people pay the most amount of money for.
You can even make YouTube videos, but this would take a few years until you start seeing some sort of results.
When I started Hawk Prospecting, I was not passionate about SaaS, I just had a deep interest in this space.
The idea of monetizing software that can be sold on a recurring basis was very intriguing.
Picking the right business goes further than just strengths and interests.
Another one of the biggest mistakes made when choosing a business is chasing an idea, and not a problem/customer.
When you build a business derived from an idea, you're going to struggle to find customers.
Instead, you should focus on a problem or a customer avatar and find the business you need to build for them.
That way, you know that people are interested in buying your solution once it's built.
Aiming for perfection
The next most common mistake entrepreneurs make when starting a business is aiming for perfection.
This is something I still struggle with today.
For every business I've ever started, I've aimed to build the best product possible.
Don't get me wrong, if your product is bad, then no one is going to buy into it.
However, your goal should not be to build the perfect product, your goal should be to present a solution that people can buy into.
Whilst building Hawk Prospecting, I gave myself 2-3 weeks to build the software.
This helped me ensure that I don't spend too much overthinking the intricate details of the product.
There are a ton of other features that need to be built, however, the main feature is built and useable by our target audience.
If I had spent time building the rest of those features for Hawk Prospecting, it would have set me back a few months, 100s of users, and even revenue too.
Don't overthink the product, just make sure you have something to work with.
Don't take enough risk
However, a lot of people who start businesses try to steer away from risks as much as possible.
This all originates in our minds - our limiting beliefs about money and risk are what determine our tolerance for it in business.
When we're young, a lot of us grew around risk-averse parents who held onto every penny for dear life.
They may not have been poor, but their mindset and belief around money were poor and tainted.
This naturally leaks into our minds and becomes part of our identities.
It's really difficult to make identity-level shifts, however, learning to accept that risk is part of the entrepreneurial process is vital for success.
Trying to avoid risk at all costs will be like walking on eggshells.
The article I wrote on taking more risks will help you ease into it and accept it.
Luckily for us, there are different businesses for different personalities.
There are businesses that don't require lots of risks, and there are businesses that require a ton of risk and investment.
Go back to the first mistake and try to identify the right business for you.
The truth is, wherever we look in our lives, we're taking a risk.
When we go to school, we're betting on the fact that we can get good grades and land a good job.
When we find a job, we're betting on the fact that we can work here for a long time and provide for ourselves and our families.
When we go outside, although morbid, there's always a risk that we won't make it back home.
However, the mistakes lie in the risks associated with money and finances - this is where entrepreneurs go wrong.
Don't speak to customers
A common practice that lots of entrepreneurs follow nowadays is talking to customers.
Most commonly derived from 'The Lean Startup' methodology, speaking to your customers has quickly become one of the best ways to build products.
After all, customers are the people with the pain points, you're the one with the solution, the remedy.
It's very difficult to guess what people want - this is where talking to customers comes in.
When you talk to customers, send out surveys, or even hop on an interview with them, you can do two things.
You can build a relationship with them and make them your early users.
You can learn all about their pain points and find the solution you need to build.
I did around 40 interviews in a one month period where I tried to identify the problems people faced so I can build Condesnr to suit those needs.
When you neglect your customers, you're neglecting a great learning experience which will inevitably delay your product's development and improvement.
The more you talk to customers, the better you're able to learn about their needs and build for those.
Procrastination around launch
This is something I recently suffered from.
Although it only took me a few days to get over it, it's still a mistake that many entrepreneurs commonly come across.
It took me a little over two weeks to build Hawk Prospecting's MVP and have it ready for beta release.
However, for a few days, I felt procrastination and mental blocks building up in my mind.
All the negative thoughts and self-talk started to flood in.
"What if no one wants your product."
"What happens if you've got all this overhead and no revenue."
"What if you can't get any users."
"What if the software doesn't work!"
These thoughts plagued my mind and made me delay the launch for a few days.
Every day I woke up, I would get ready to launch Hawk Prospecting but come up with an excuse to delay it.
There's not really much I can say here - the way I got over it is simply by just doing it.
I realised that if I carried on like this, I would never launch.
There is a line, however. If you're really not ready to launch, then don't launch.
Keep planning, make sure you've got a go-to-market strategy in place, but don't over plan.
When you get stuck in a phase of constant planning, it gets harder and harder to launch.
It's similar to when I had my sales job - making the first knock was a tiresome mental battle.
I had to think hard about how I was going to approach the first door, however, once I did, it was easier to keep going.
Reid Hoffman has a great metaphor about business - he says it's like "jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down."
Just launch the business and worry about the finer details later.
My favorite article I've ever written on this blog is my article about 'Reinventing the wheel.'
If you have read that article, you'll know I spoke about competition.
Every day, there are hundreds of new businesses being created around the globe.
Whilst 90% of those businesses inevitably fail, the other 10% start to see success.
This makes it harder and harder to differentiate yourself as a new business founder.
Although a good product can be a great marketing tool, it's very important to know how to market your business.
Many entrepreneurs are not entrepreneurs, but 'technicians.'
In the book, 'The E-Myth Revisited,' the author explains how a technician is usually someone with a passion or skill in a given industry who starts their own business.
For example, in the tech industry, you find a lot of computer geeks, better known as 'hackers,' starting a business then finding out they know nothing about running it.
They're exceptional coders and developers, however, they lack the business sentiment, the marketing arsenal needed to propel their business.
They get stuck working IN their business, rather than ON their business.
I suggest reading all about the 80/20 rule and how it applies to entrepreneurship to learn more about this.
As an entrepreneur, it's crucial you understand how marketing is done.
Without marketing, you could have the best product in the world, yet no one to use it.
The strategies outlined in the article about finding clients for your marketing agency can work in quite a few (B2B) industries.
Giving up too early
One of the biggest mistakes (and most common) for entrepreneurs to make when starting a business is simply giving up too early.
Every venture I've tried could have been successful in its own way had I not given up so soon.
My biggest entrepreneurial regret is quitting my dropshipping store.
I got very lucky in choosing a very good product, however, my execution of the business was terrible.
I procrastinated on the launch which gave me only a few days to get my first customer(s).
I was too scared to spend money on Shopify's subscription and so I quit right before the free trial ended.
Had I not made this tiny mistake, I could probably say I'm a successful e-commerce business owner.
In business, your efforts are not going to show immediately.
You're going to need to work consistently for a long time - months, even years until you can start to see a glimpse of success.
Just don't give up too early.
You can read about the 5 signs it's time to quit a business venture here - these could be the only exception to giving up.
Don't ask for help
I'm not sure what the reason behind this is, however, a lot of entrepreneurs feel like they have something to prove.
They jump into entrepreneurship and turn into lone wolves who don't rely on anyone other than themselves.
This also used to be me - I had an ego the same size as a mountain.
After my sales job and the job at Amazon, my ego was quickly tamed.
I realised that it's not cool to be all alone in business and entrepreneurship, it's okay to ask for help.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it's a sign of strength.
When I started asking for help, I found that there are many people who are actually open to helping out.
The issue is not finding those people but asking for help in the first place.
When you don't ask for help, you rely on yourself to do everything which is not a great idea.
Once again, entrepreneurs don't know a lot about starting businesses and so seeking help will always come in handy.
When you start to look for a helping hand, you realise you're not alone on this journey and that people really want to help you succeed.
Entrepreneurs should help entrepreneurs, not compete with them... to some degree.
If you're looking for a helpful community, I invite you to join our free Quora group where we're working on building the largest entrepreneurial community to ever exist.
Those were the 8 most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a business.
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Till next time,