There is no more precarious business endeavor than a young entrepreneur’s entre into the start-up world. Budding company owners will be faced with untold challenges and will need infinite senses of commitment and healthy doses of good fortune to survive the early days.
Against steep odds, fledgling entrepreneurs’ successes will be predicated on learning from those who have navigated the same treacherous waters before them — some winning, others losing … and applying the lessons to their own respective businesses. What follows are seven common mistakes that innumerable veteran entrepreneurs have repeatedly made in their own start-up careers, and rookie entrepreneurs should learn to avoid.
- Starting one’s own business is the pro league, and with it goes pro league responsibilities. Failing to have competent representation, both legal and financial, could spell doom very quickly for the business and business owner. Retain the services of reputable accountants and attorneys, and know your assets as well as your liabilities.
- The real entrepreneurial world is far different than grad school projects. Your actual business plan requires more than preparation — it needs input from experts, coaches, and/or mentors. A weak business plan will never keep a new venture afloat, so invest the time and resources to create a solid operational blueprint that has been objectively critiqued, and vouched for by those with more expertise than yourself.
- You think your start-up idea is perfect… but does anyone else? Locking onto an idea without the ability to adapt or become flexible will be a career killer very quickly. Check your ego at the door once you have brainstormed an idea, listen to feedback, and adjust as necessary.
- If you have partners, make certain to draft an ironclad business agreement from the outset. Know each other’s responsibilities and how ownership is to be divided. Remember, just because you agreed on a business idea over dinner doesn’t mean the percentages jotted down on a cocktail napkin are legally binding.
- You have a great concept for providing goods or services, a flawless delivery system planned out, and a strong business plan. There’s only one thing missing: do you know for certain that customers will pay for what you offer them? If the answer is NOT an unequivocal yes, then you are not yet ready for prime time.
- Unless you have won the lottery or are living off a generous trust fund, your start-up will require sufficient seed money to get off the ground. Investment capital is for the present, but also for the future. The financial burdens of a new entrepreneurial venture can become debilitating if insufficient dollars are not allocated, so make certain that you have something to fall back on if/when times get tough.
- Once you’re the boss, your time management skills are going to require maximum efficiency. If you find that your professional responsibilities require more than 24 hours in a given day, you’re not managing the business properly. Maintain focus, delegate as necessary, and never lose sight of your original vision.
In order for your new business venture to succeed, it makes sense to take note of the lessons learned by entrepreneurs who came before you. While your start-up may offer a novel concept, the tried n’ true tenets of laying a successful foundation for a business are universal. Good luck!