Feb 1, 2023
Top 5 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make...And How to Avoid Them
by Natalie Jones
In spite of the fear, external influences, and personal sacrifices linked to embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, you’ve taken the initial leap toward advancing your unconventional ideas and introducing to the world a new product or service that not only fuels your passion, but also contributes an innovative solution to an apparent need.
Recent statistics revealed by the US Census Bureau confirm you are not alone in your pursuit to harness the freedom and autonomy that comes with controlling your destiny on your terms. More than 5 million new business applications were filed in the United States last year, reflecting a continuation of the growing momentum first ignited in 2020, when the country experienced a 24% increase from 2019 in the creation of startup businesses.
This pandemic business boom initiated a massive shift resulting in the discovery of newfound interests, birthed new business opportunities, and a stronger than ever desire to break away from the traditional paradigms that had many employees feeling powerless, constricted, and confined to rigid work structures.
Driven by the forced collective pause brought on by Covid-19, you more than likely found yourself resonating with others who chose to reevaluate their priorities, reinvent themselves, and develop a new awareness of where and how their skill sets fit into the world. Perhaps gaining a sense of connection to something much bigger than yourself and understanding that the purpose of your new venture extends far beyond you provided some level of solace during the challenging, yet thrilling launch phase of your startup.
As the first quarter of 2023 progresses, only time will tell how all of these new businesses, many still in the germination stages, will ultimately flourish and if the boom will continue to surge. In the meantime, we’re uncovering some of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make and addressing them with transparency.
Taking heed of these five overlooked issues will help provide clarity and immediately eliminate blindspots that could be holding you back from taking your business to the next level. While your role as a new entrepreneur during this period undoubtedly contributed to shaping the current business climate, it’s time to set your business apart by focusing on its growth and strengthening its staying power.
Production Over Perfection
Oftentimes, new entrepreneurs get stuck in thought patterns that lead them to believe that their product or service has to be perfectly buttoned-up before it hits the market. However, as long as it is meeting a need, this type of approach can actually cause a delay in the natural flow of the process. Receiving useful feedback and drawing from that to implement changes and updates, particularly in software development, helps you and your team improve the original versions more effectively and efficiently. A “fail fast” philosophy allows for a more adaptable approach. Being open to responses and evaluations after the initial release of your product or service can be critical to its success as it enters the market.
“If you have a goal, and a dream, and a product you’re really passionate about introducing to the world, start by making it as good as you can, but don’t forget you need to sell something at some point,” advises Andrew Smith, Nourish & Sow Co-Founder and COO. “At Nourish & Sow, we take an iterative approach that helps us learn something new and continuously improve. Whether we are working with our clients to create a new version of software, or integrating it into their operations, we’re always going to do what we need to do to make it better.”
Self-Confidence Over Self-Reliance
Can it be done? Yes! Does it always have to be done by you? No!
As your business grows and expands, new needs will inevitably follow. It’s essential that you take a step back and determine what tasks you need to delegate to others on your team so that you are doing the best things in the present moment for your business. Being able to let go of certain aspects of the daily workflow like bookkeeping, filing emails, attending every team meeting, and other administrative duties helps free up your time so you are able to focus on your clients, nurturing relationships, scaling your business, and developing your brand.
This can be a difficult feat for new entrepreneurs. It will require you to be completely honest with yourself, and, in some cases, check your ego at the door. Start by asking yourself the following questions: “Why am I having a hard time trusting my team to take on more responsibilities?” “Am I afraid someone else may be better than me at this particular task?”
Remember that your confidence, abilities, and outlook as an entrepreneur will shine through to others you interact with, especially those you lead. In fact, self awareness, and the willingness to acknowledge the areas you may not necessarily excel at is an admirable leadership quality that garners respect and creates a healthy work environment and culture. Your team will feel that you trust in its talents and is more likely to thrive.
“Having self-confidence in what you know and what you can do for the business is important, but in order to grow you can’t rely on yourself entirely to make it happen,” says Smith.
Hiring Too Slow
A common misconception for many entrepreneurs is that slow hiring will help to ensure they are hiring the most qualified candidates. On the contrary, apprehension to fill a needed position hinders the growth potential of their business. For example, vacant roles in sales means lost revenue.
If your resistance to hiring new employees stems from a fear of paying a salary, it’s important to remember that there are always going to be costs associated with running a business. The most valuable thing to do for your business is hire the real experts to get the work done right before the needs become urgent and start impacting the bottomline. Investing in people and their support will help take certain tasks off your plate so you can work on what you do best.
“Understand your budget, and do your financial projections,” says Smith. “Maybe at first you need to bring people on part-time, or seek contractors and freelancers to achieve more in different areas across your business. Don’t delay your growth by putting it all on yourself.”
Afraid to Take a Step Back to Go Forward
You tried something new and it’s not performing well. This scenario is part of the process. Rather than planning a quick exit, learning how to be comfortable with continually changing landscapes and knowing when to take a step back to regroup is key for all entrepreneurs. View your business as a living and breathing entity separate from yourself that needs to respond, shift, change, and grow.
“There is no true playbook to entrepreneurial success,” explains Smith. “Adjusting your sails when the wind changes does not mean you won’t reach your destination. Be strategically responsive while staying in tune with your business and the market that you’re trying to connect with. If your business needs to pivot, regroup without reaching analysis paralysis, shift, and go forward.”
Save Space to Ignite Your Spark
The ebb and flow of an entrepreneur’s journey calls for times of intense cycles of work and focus, and other times of disconnecting and recharging. Moving away from the hustle culture and embracing the things that bring you joy outside of your business will fuel your passion and align you with why you carved out your own path in the first place.
Check in regularly and be responsible for your own energy management. As new situations fluctuate throughout your work week, use your energy as a guide to balance your relationship with your work and your personal life. If you’re feeling burdened or drained by your business, pay attention to what this may be signaling to you. Perhaps you need to make adjustments in your schedule or set aside time for yourself to reflect and recenter your thoughts to reactivate your spark.
Maintain hobbies and interests that inspire you. A self-care regimen will facilitate your motivation, help you avoid burnout, and give life to your creative source. Holding space for wellness breaks, connecting with your community, friends, and family keeps you in touch with your core values and authentic self. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
“Volume of work does not equal success,” says Smith. “Getting into alignment with your “why” defines success. When you work in your business, you work for your business. If you work on your business, the business works for you, your lifestyle, and all the things you want to do.”