Being an entrepreneur isn’t a smooth journey; you have to learn as you go along, especially as a first-time entrepreneur. You will make many mistakes along the way, but as long as you treat them as a learning opportunity, they don’t have to be an adverse event.
In this article, I will give you five mistakes that entrepreneurs make (including me). What to look out for and how to avoid them, now that you know what they are. So, let’s get started.
1. Expecting your employees to love your business as much as you
Now you may have the ideal vision for your business, to which people will flock to support the goals of your mission, but how many are doing it for free?
I am guessing zero.
Your team may be inspired by you, and love what you are doing, but they will never love it more than you do. If your staff do, then it is probably a lack of passion on your part. Your team need to have a job to provide the basics of life, support their family, engage in activities they enjoy outside of work, and for a million reasons other than furthering your vision.
So, what does this mean for you and your business?
Well, don’t expect your staff to live on fresh air. Pay them fairly, and don’t expect them to forego their personal lives in the same way as you would for your business. Please don’t ask them to miss their child’s school play or sports day to do some work that they could do later. Don’t expect answers to your emails and phone calls outside of work hours.
Respect the boundaries of their personal lives. If they choose to go beyond these boundaries themselves, then sincerely appreciate it, but don’t expect it.
2. Believing that your thoughts are so important that everyone has to hear them straight away.
Impatience with a new idea is a mistake of which I am guilty regularly (but I am trying!). You go on a course, read a book or article, watch a video, or even talking with other entrepreneurs, and it hits you. You have an idea of how you can apply this new thinking to your business.
The first thing that you do is pick up your phone or rush to the desks of your team and start waxing lyrical about the fantastic benefits of this new thing you have just heard. It is exciting, and you can picture how it is going to be great and boost your business.
Firstly, you have interrupted your team from the task on which they were working. In the best case, you had cost them fifteen minutes to get back to where they were before you interrupted, plus the time that you waste discussing your new idea. If they are working on something complex, you may have set them back even further on their task.
Secondly, have you thought about how you are going to implement this idea? Is it a practical solution for your business? Do you have the resources to make it happen? Have you worked out the costs and benefits of carrying it through?
You need to stop. Think about the idea carefully, and write down your concept and plan to make use of it. Then prepare to wait till you have a scheduled time with your employees to go through your plans for the business. Your opportunity may be weekly or even monthly, but certainly not as soon as it pops into your head.
One caveat to this mistake is that if the idea presents an opportunity that is time sensitive and you genuinely need to move on it quickly, then do so.
3. Building an offer that is for everyone
This particular mistake is counterintuitive to many entrepreneurs, especially first-time ones. If you create a product or service that appeals to everyone, then you will have a bigger market, and so, even if you get only a small percentage of sales, you will do great.
There are a few issues with this approach. Firstly, you will find it impossible to market to people, as your reach is so broad, your messaging will have to be vanilla and therefore won’t attract attention.
With all the channels available to market across and the volume of competition for attention, you need something that stands out, that is different. Your different won’t appeal to everyone. It will appeal to those people who like your version of different.
Secondly, most people don’t buy new products or services. The majority of people like big names, safe and secure companies, that they can trust. The majority of consumers like to see social proof that what you offer works. Reviews and recommendations from third-parties are far more critical to this group of people than your smart advertising campaign.
Thirdly, to create a service that appeals to a broad range of people, will inevitably become complicated with many features and options. Using this approach means that you do not focus on the core of your offer. You will lose the main point of your offer in the noise. It gets watered down by the mass of features that hide your purpose.
You can find a great example of this sort of behaviour in the difference between the menus of good and not so good restaurants.
The best restaurants have a single sheet of A4 paper, usually printed daily, with a menu that changes as often, due to the seasonality, and availability, of great ingredients.
The not so good restaurant will provide you with a book more massive than “War and Peace” from which you need to choose your meal.
By appealing to everyone, they lose their purpose.
So, create your product or service for a niche which appeals to the early adopters. These are the people who love to try new things. They get excited by novelty, by different, and hopefully, by your different.
You can then focus on a core feature of your offer. You can have clear marketing that reaches out to this very specific group. Plus, you are talking to people who like new things – like your new thing.
4. Hiring people too late
Hiring people too late is a double mistake depending on how you read the sentence. It could be that you go too long before you hire further resources which you are in desperate need to meet the growing demands of your business.
Alternatively, it could be that you hire too late and end up having to settle for whoever is available, rather than capitalising on a great opportunity when it presents itself.
The first goal of an entrepreneur needs to be to move from working in your business to working on your business. You need to escape from being a business owner to the position of an entrepreneur. If you spend all your time doing the daily tasks of completing the work in your business, then you will have limited time to grow your business.
You need to make hires to delegate the daily tasks to your team, so that you may focus on putting systems in place that means that your business can operate without you. You need to put yourself out of every job that you do by getting someone else to do it. Then you can spend your time on your business, making sure that the sales figures are growing and your customers are happy.
The second part of this mistake is waiting until you are desperate and then hiring anyone because you need to fill a role. It may be that one of your valued employees has moved on, and you need to replace them.
Don’t hire someone just because you have a vacancy. The wrong person for the job is the wrong person. If they don’t fit with your team, then you aren’t helping you are just making things worse.
You are also limiting yourself to only hiring people who happen to be available when you are in desperate need. You will miss out on some potentially excellent hires.
So, to fix this mistake, always be on the lookout for new hires. If someone would make a great addition to your team, then do everything you can to get them on-board. Why wait till some magic time that you have decided that it is time to get a new employee. They will add value from the moment they start, so why not make that time sooner.
5. Trying to do everything yourself
An entrepreneur has to wear many hats, especially at the start of their business. As well as making great hires to build your team, there is another area that entrepreneurs make a mistake – trying to do everything themselves.
You will have many aspects of your business, and broader life, that someone has already got a product or service that is better than you doing it yourself.
Do you complete your business accounts? Are you fixing your computers? How about your graphic design – fancy yourself as a photoshop wizard?
Other businesses address all the peripheral tasks that a business needs to do. They will do it more efficiently than you and to a higher quality of service.
So, why are you doing it?
If you think you can’t afford it, then you are forgetting the income that you are foregoing by spending your time doing these tasks, rather than working on your business.
Wasting time on tasks that others can do for you extends outside of work. Are you spending time doing DIY, gardening, cleaning your house, your clothes, and so on? Could you free some of your time to focus on your business by offloading some of these types of tasks on to another company?
As well as offloading your tasks to another employee, or an external service, you may need to think about the tools that you use in your business.
Are there ways that you can free your time by investing in equipment or software that can do some of the work for you? Are you leveraging automation in your business? If you can make your business operations more efficient, then you can stop doing everything yourself, freeing your time to focus on what matters.
So, outsource tasks that someone else can do for you, and leverage technology to stop doing everything yourself.
These are five mistakes that entrepreneurs make that now you know about them you don’t need to make yourself in your business.
Don’t expect your employees to love your business as much as you do. If they go the extra mile, then show appreciation, not expectation.
Don’t share your ideas as soon as they hit you. Develop your thoughts first and share them at a pre-organised time.
Don’t build an offer for everyone. Find your niche and your audience.
Don’t hire too late. Hire when you find the right person, and always be looking.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Outsource to other businesses, and leverage technology to free your time to focus on what matters.
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