Launching a new business and becoming established in your niche is a long and winding road. It requires determination, planning, resources, and — to be quite honest — the work never really stops. It can seem like there is always a new obstacle around every corner. You can always find a better, more efficient way to innovate and challenge the status quo.
I’m not saying this to discourage new entrepreneurs. Rather, it’s a reminder that success takes more than just a great idea. I’ve been in business long enough to have seen many passion-fueled ventures fail, and other well-intentioned startups just never get their feet off the ground.
Fortunately, I’ve picked up a few tips throughout my journey, and I’ve compiled a list of common mistakes to avoid.
Top Six Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Launching a Business
1. Fear of Failure
Fear is something that most of us feel regularly in some capacity. A healthy dose of fear can be a compelling motivator when launching a business. Too much fear, though, is detrimental.
Early in my career, I was deeply afraid to fail. Blair Rigby, one of my first bosses, taught me that it was okay to make mistakes. Failure was simply part of the journey. If you allow your fear of failure to grow unchecked, you’ll simply stop growing.
You may never feel completely ready, but there comes a point when you need to stop worrying and take the plunge. You might never realize your full potential until you push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Yes, you will make some mistakes, but the point is that you will also learn from them and grow stronger, wiser, and more experienced as a result.
2. Listening to Naysayers
There will always be negative people in your life who try to tear you down and discourage you.
Prior to creating Chargebacks911, I was an eCommerce merchant selling luxury goods. When I first encountered the problem of chargebacks, I had many people tell me to stay in my lane and leave it to the experts. Even though I was desperate to solve my chargeback problem, I was advised not to rock the boat. My decision to follow this advice proved to be a costly mistake.
Months went by, and I lost more and more money to invalid disputes. Finally, I came to the conclusion that enough was enough. I decided to fight back. The moral of the story is that sometimes you need to go with your gut and ignore bad advice.
If I would have listened to the naysayers, my business would have crumbled and I would never have started down the road to where I am today. Instead, I decided to follow what I knew was right, which led me to launch an innovative fintech company.
3. Entrepreneurs Who Try To Do Everything
In the early stages of launching a business, you might be tempted to take on too much too fast. You need to be willing to do the work, yes, but it’s also important that you understand the value of bringing a team on board. If you attempt to do everything yourself, you’ll likely lose steam and burn out.
Recognize that you’re not going to be the expert in every area. Leverage your strengths, but acknowledge that other people might be better suited for a specific role. One of the beautiful things about having a team is that moment when every unique moving part comes together to form a cohesive unit.
The only sustainable way to run your business is to bring on others who share your vision and can help disperse the workload. You can’t do it all…but that’s okay.
4. Lack of Clear Goals Prior to Launching a Business
They say “the devil is in the details.” This idiom rings true when starting a business as anyone can have an idea, but succeeding as an entrepreneur takes more than wishful thinking. You need to be able to turn your dream into a reality.
Everyone loves to talk about the big picture and share the hopes they have for a new company, but how do you get from point A to point B? It’s incredibly easy to overlook important details when making your plans.
Make sure that you set defined and realistic goals and that each decision represents a step towards meeting those milestones. Create a road map that marks out monthly, quarterly, and annual goals for your organization, along with a plan for how you will achieve each one. This plan should be solid and yet flexible enough that you can respond to market changes as they occur.
5. Inability to Adapt
In the business world, one of the most important skills an entrepreneur can have is adaptability. As we’ve seen over the course of the last year, there will always be unforeseen obstacles that you face throughout your career. When launching a business, it pays to remember that many carefully laid plans have been disrupted overnight.
Covid-19 crippled many businesses. Others were able to adapt and find a way to push forward. We saw an eCommerce boom as many merchants explored new payment channels, online options, and more contactless options.
You need to be able to adapt to any curveball thrown your way without letting it negatively affect the rest of the business. Be prepared to think on your feet and have a big enough vision and understanding of your purpose that you can quickly react to changing circumstances.
6. Post-Launch Complacency
Complacency can kill true innovation. Once you have a functioning business and are turning a profit, there is a temptation to think your work is done. It isn’t.
I frequently say that you should never stop learning. You should always look for ways to improve yourself, your processes, and your business. The competitive nature of entrepreneurship ensures that someone will always be looking for a way to take your idea and improve it.
If you want to stay relevant, you need to continue to push for innovation. You can be sure that if you don’t do it, someone else will.