5 Mistakes to Avoid as an Entrepreneur

5 Mistakes to Avoid as an Entrepreneur
Image credit: Tom Woodward | Flickr

Entrepreneurship is a land of risk and reward where most of your traditional work boundaries have been removed. No one tells you how to work, how long and how hard to work or how much you can make. There are, in fact, a million advantages to the freedom of entrepreneurship.

However, there are also an equal number of pitfalls that this same freedom creates. One of them is that entrepreneurs have the "freedom" to think they are doing things right, when in fact they are doing them wrong. Here are five common mistakes to avoid on your own entrepreneurial journey:

Related: 3 Ways to Wring Great Ideas From Mistakes

1. Chasing the wrong success

If you are not careful, you can fall into the trap of believing that certain material items make you "successful." That a certain lifestyle is what success looks like. Often, people try to buy their way to success and happiness, only to find out that they don’t even want what they were pursuing.

To conquer this trap, make sure to think about and write down what success means in your perfect world. Be conscious about what you are aiming at, and take consistent steps to reach it.

2. Improper communication

It is comfortable to feel confident and assume that you are communicating properly -- with employees, contractors and mentors -- but the bottom line is that many of us don't. What you intend to say, and the impact you intend to make, when communicating with staff, for example, may not be the right words or have the right impact at all.

To avoid this mistake, make sure to speak using facts, leaving out the emotion those facts may invoke. Have your employees take personality tests, so you know ahead of time how they will communicate. They may need more detail from you than you normally communicate -- or less -- but knowing is the first step.

3. Poor 'servant leadership'

"Servant leadership" is a buzzword right now; however, many business owners don’t understand what it entails. Servant leadership means not allowing others to walk all over you. It is not about creating an environment of dependency on you. Often, subservient leaders are ones that need others to need and rely on them.

To solve this pitfall, you need to practice true servant leadership. Servant leadership means providing an environment of service. It means doing what is best for your employees, which might include firing them. Serving your staff well requires setting them up for success by training them properly and holding them to a high standard.

Related: 9 Common Mistakes Made by New Entrepreneurs

4. The customer is always right

This is a common misconception that can leave you worn out and exhausted. Operating your business as if every customer is "right" can confuse your message and train your customers how to treat you and your staff. You may end up serving a select minority instead of a majority.

Instead of the philosophy that the customer is always right, take on the mindset that the customer is always honored. Customers should be treated with honor and respect, but sometimes they are just wrong. So, be clear on who your target is and serve that person well.

5. Chasing money instead of freedom 

When money is tight, it is a breeze to think that money and freedom are synonymous. This can lead business owners down the wrong path and often put a lid on their income. Chasing money can lead to an unlived life, getting us to chase the wrong things. Money should be a byproduct, not the focus.

Make choices in the long term, toward freedom. Train yourself out of a job, and your income will have no bounds. Focus on short-term monetary gains, and you will never have true freedom. Instead, focus on the strength and growth of your business, and you will have money. You will also experience freedom and finances through growth and proper training.

Avoiding these pitfalls will have you cruising toward success. So, move with proper purpose. You may need to reevaluate and adjust often, because being a few degrees off in the beginning leaves you open to the risk of being miles off in the end. But make the journey. And be blessed on your journey.

Related: The 5 Mistakes Standing Between You and Your First Million