Startup Mistakes

5 Common Entrepreneurial Mistakes There Is No Excuse for Repeating

Reader Resource

Position yourself for growth in 2017—join us live at the Entrepreneur 360.
Flash Sale—save up to $200 on registration. Ends Thursday. Secure Your Seat »

Entrepreneurship properly executed can increase your impact and income. It can create a life of freedom and leave a lasting legacy. However, building a business is difficult, especially in our recovering economy, and with all the competition.

Too many entrepreneurs build their businesses on a shaky foundation. They follow popular, but unproven advice. They make decisions based off of what they think will work, instead of getting feedback from their customers. It’s not long before any previous success is gone and business growth is stunted.

What started as a dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if you make these five common entrepreneurial mistakes.

1. Neglecting to prepare for the unexpected.

It doesn’t matter how solid your business plan is, life will throw you a curve ball. During these unexpected emergencies your business will sink or survive depending on what type of emergency plan you have in place.

Your emergency plan should include cash reserves to cover unplanned expenses. It should also include a temporary operating plan until your business gets back to being fully functional. If you have a team, they need to know what should be done during the transition. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Many businesses have failed because of disorganization and chaos during a crisis. There will be hiccups during those unexpected emergencies, but you can thrive if you have that emergency plan in place.

Related: Is Your Business Prepared to Handle an Unexpected Emergency?

2. Doing what you think works instead of testing what works.

There’s a danger in relying on what you think your customers will respond to. Yes, we should understand our customers, but what makes them buy is discovered through research and testing. Just because another entrepreneur is successful using a certain strategy or process, doesn't mean it will work for your business.

There’s a danger in following popular advice or going with “your gut." Your present and potential customers may be different than you think. Testing shows you what is working and what’s worth you investing more of your time and resources into.

3. Trying to be Superman doing it all alone.

It’s natural to want to control every part of your business. More than a few of us struggle with perfectionism. To make sure every detail of our business is how we want it, we don’t train anyone to help us. Your time should be spent on more than the nitty-gritty details. 

Whether it’s an intern, partner, virtual assistant or employee, we have options available to get the help we need in our business. Entrepreneurs should focus our time on strategies that grow our business. There are smaller tasks that should be delegated to create margin in our business and life. Take it one small task at a time until you get comfortable.

Related: Critical Lessons from 5 Common Startup Mistakes

4. Getting complacent instead of continuing to learn.

Life and growing a business would both be easy if we could learn all we needed once and that was enough. That’s not reality. Not continuing to educate yourself about what works, new strategies and better ways to build your business is a recipe for failure.

Legendary entrepreneur Brendon Burchard says, “An expert is a student first.” Continue to grow in your knowledge but don't fall victim to information overload. Study best practices and exciting new strategies. Test them to see if they work for your business. 

5. Focusing on all the wrong things.

With all the lights and bright shiny objects, it’s easy to get distracted and then overwhelmed. Technology and the Internet have given us access to limitless knowledge, if you’re focused.

Strategies and techniques that work for another entrepreneur or business may not work for your business, at least right now. When you try to copy successful entrepreneurs, you could be heading down a rabbit hole that doesn’t help grow your business.

Focus on where your business is to determine and implement the strategy that will take it to the next level. Have tunnel vision. Don't be distracted by strategies that aren’t right for your business now.

No one is perfect. We will make many mistakes on our entrepreneurial journey. Those who are successful quickly learn from their mistakes and pivot. They realize a setback doesn’t mean their business, or a part of their business, is over. Avoid common mistakes. Focus on your business and your customers. You've got this!

Related: How to Stop Making the Same Mistakes Over and Over Again