Oxford dictionary defines Entrepreneur as a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. Therefore, if you are earning a living by selling goods or services out of your spare bedroom or off the kitchen desk, you are an entrepreneur. Embrace the title of entrepreneur. Wear it as a badge of honor.
Acknowledging that you run a business is important to make vital start up decisions. Whether your motive for starting a business was because you needed a job, or you planned for it to be temporary income stream, for a business to be productive one must make some basic steps to avoid pitfalls in the first few months which can end your business before it even begins or worse, you end up in debt when it closes.
What are the most common startup mistakes when stepping into the entrepreneurial ring and how can you avoid them?
First, not acknowledging that you are in fact starting a business. Too many times, people fall into some type of work in which they control their own product, income, and marketing. They fail to acknowledge that they are starting a business and don’t pay attention to market cues. A person who knows a lot about the entrepreneurial struggles is Maria Strauss, Designer/Founder JUST BEE QUEEN and Creative Director MIA Shoes Inc. Her advice to new business owners is, “It’s important to let things happen organically … while remaining true to your message and see what sparks attention then go with it. That “it” may surprise you and lead you down an alternate path to success. Many people who are embarking on a new venture are so intent on getting crowds to buy into their vision that they miss those cues that can make them successful. You may have to be willing to let go of some things you love in order to establish brand appeal – after you do that you will earn the privilege to slowly move your target audience to a new offering.”
Second, when starting a business, new entrepreneurs tend to create a budget based on what they need at that moment without any consideration as to the growth of the company or what it will take in order to provide an adequate income. Again, most start with the premise that if they can pay their bills today, their business is successful without thinking where they want to or need to be in two to three years to remain competitive. Situational or time-frozen budget planning doesn’t account for growth or market changes. Even if you started selling jewelry out of the guest bedroom for an extra income, you have a business that needs a constant infusion of cash to continue to buy product, market and provide your personal needs.
When preparing a start-up budget, I recommend a budget outlining six, twelve, twenty-four and forty-eight months. The reason is this budget also will act as a checklist to see if you are keeping on track. Just because you personally need only $4000 per month in gross income today doesn’t mean that in one year you won’t enjoy $10,000 a month. Keeping track of your monthly budget progress will help highlight adjusts needed to daily operations when the budget is not met.
Third. Not asking for help. We discussed the second pitfall to avoid is about understanding where the money is coming from by making a realistic budget, but financial matters are only one part of the resources needed to start businesses. No one can be excellent in all areas that are required to make a business successful. Employees, accounting, legal affairs, payroll concerns, and taxes all come into starting up a business and one cannot expect to know all the answers. From the onset, find a series of resources whether through subcontractors, YouTube courses or the small business administration services that can help support the beginning of a business. Today one can readily find resources to answer a multitude of business support needs for any budget. You just need to look and ask questions.
Fourth, not hiring an employee fast enough. There’s only so many hours in a day. Some hours need to be devoted to sleep. Some hours need to be devoted to personal life. And some need to be devoted to your business. Well-functioning entrepreneurs recognize maintaining their person is just as important as the business.
Successful entrepreneurs see the ongoing importance of dedicating part of those hours to innovation and next level thinking. This will require assistance because answering the phone, filling orders, paying bills and day to day tasks take time. Time that can be freed up with staff. New business owners resist hiring over the financial concerns, but this is short sighted. “Every great idea needs a capable team to bring it to life. Smart entrepreneurs know that when starting a business, asking for help is a strength and not a weakness. Delegation can be one of the best tactics implemented and will pave the way to getting the little things right, freeing up time for the owner to focus on the big picture strategy that grows the company” recent Fif-TV interviewee Kymberlee Weil, Founder of Strategic Samurai shares.
Fifth, not knowing when you have reached a successful milestone to begin planning for the second milestone. Getting caught up in the day to day operations of a business sometimes distracts from the overall goal of a continuing and thriving enterprise. This means every business needs promotion, right from the start. Amy Jo (Valenza) Pedone, Founder & Master Chocolatier of Valenza Chocolatier, Inc., an award winning Italian inspired chocolates & confections business in Costa Mesa, CA advocates using your business’ secret weapon. “You are your own best publicist option in the startup phase. Don’t underestimate the impact and value of how your business passion is communicated authentically through your body language, voice, and confidence. We tend to transfer our PR voice to a third-party, where values may not be aligned. From the media event that launched my business to the ongoing seasonal PR strategy, rather than hiring a PR firm, my in-house team and I did the due diligence to determine which outlets best aligned with the brand before establishing direct relationships. I believed in my products, my journey as an entrepreneur, and most importantly myself, which have proven to be my top three assets.”
Entrepreneurship is rewarding and sometimes challenging by starting your business off on the right foot gives you a leg up on the competition.