It’s easy to fall into an entrepreneurial trap, especially if you’re new to the field and still learning how to start a business. The excitement of getting started can lead you down the wrong path before you know it, so it’s helpful to be aware of some common pitfalls that inexperienced entrepreneurs often face. To avoid these traps, read the following 10 tips on how to avoid entrepreneurial traps and propel your business forward instead.
1) Investing too much money in marketing early on
If you’re just getting started, it’s tempting to hire a public relations firm, or buy Facebook ads and other expensive marketing tools. But while these tactics can be effective in boosting your business—if used correctly—they are expensive. And it’s important not to pour money into marketing until you’ve proven that people want what you have to offer. So, skip fancy marketing campaigns and focus on building your business first.
2) Hiring without thinking
It’s tempting to hire quickly when a candidate looks promising. But if you’re not sure they have what it takes, keep your options open and wait it out. Good employees are in high demand; there’s no reason you should settle for less.
3) Not outsourcing administrative tasks
When you’re a small business owner, it can feel like there’s never enough time in a day. Oftentimes, that feeling comes from not delegating tasks—like paying bills and managing customer relationships—to others. If you have some free time in your schedule, consider finding someone with specialized skills (accounting) or experience (customer service) who can handle these responsibilities for you.
4) Worrying about taking risks
taking risks is part of doing business. The sooner you realize that, and start embracing them, instead of fearing them, you will be one step closer to taking your company from good to great. Keep in mind: if you fail at something, it’s not a reflection on who you are as a person or a professional; there are countless other success stories about entrepreneurs who fell flat on their faces before finding success—and an even greater number of people who accomplished great things despite setbacks and failures along the way.
5) Not hiring an accountant
As much as you may want to do everything yourself, it’s a good idea to hire an accountant at some point. From setting up your books correctly for tax purposes, staying up-to-date on relevant changes in tax law and understanding which expenses can be deducted from income—an accountant can help keep your business moving forward without tripping over unexpected obstacles. There are plenty of freelancers and virtual accounting services available as well.
6) Sticking with old methods that are no longer working
Have you been sticking with old marketing methods that no longer seem to be working? If so, it’s time for a change. It can be difficult to stray from what you know and move on to something new but your business will suffer if you don’t. Start by trying out these alternative marketing methods for size. You may find that one of them works particularly well for your business. Or, if none of them do, try out another ten!
7) Being disorganized at all levels
Many entrepreneurs don’t realize how important organization is when starting a business. There are numerous tools available to help you track your time, manage projects, and measure your productivity. If you can’t find or don’t like these types of software options, invest in a personal assistant to help you set up a system that works for you.
8) Listening to bad advice from friends
While there’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from people you trust, you should never rely on them alone when making an important business decision. Seek advice from professionals and industry leaders, too. It’s also important to remember that your friends may not be objective when offering their thoughts—they may feel a sense of obligation or even want your approval. Ask for feedback about your entrepreneurial idea but use it as one piece of a larger puzzle.
9) Spending too much time on social media instead of growing your business
To grow your business, you need to spend time on your business—not on social media. Before jumping into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook, ask yourself what you could be doing right now that will help your company (or career) grow and thrive.
10) Not being clear on what you want out of life (and hence a business).
If you don’t know where you want your business to take you, it’s going to be difficult for anyone else to help. When defining your goals and objectives, try using SMART-goal criteria: S = specific M = measurable A = attainable R = realistic T = time-related Make sure your goals are clear and precise; only then can they steer you toward a successful future. It’s also critical that you understand what success means to you—do you define success in terms of financial freedom? Career recognition? Mental relaxation? Life balance? Once these values have been set, use them as a compass when making decisions about how to run your business. Before making any move—whether seeking funding or hiring additional staff—ask yourself if that decision will lead closer to or further from achieving your core values as an entrepreneur.