The 6 Biggest Startup Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make
As any entrepreneur can attest, there is a lot to do when starting your own business. It’s easy to make mistakes in the early days but you can avoid some of them if you know what they are. Many start-up entrepreneurs fall into these all-too-common traps, which can bog down or block their business flow.
1. You choose the wrong name.
Picking the right business name is crucial to your success. Don’t choose a name just because it’s cute, sentimental or quirky. Imagine your brand going national; will the name hold up to expansion? Is it easy to spell and remember? Does it describe your business or its benefits?
2. You buy for the sake of buying.
You will need business equipment, furniture, software and electronics, but you don’t need to purchase everything up front. Buy the essentials and upgrade as your business makes money. Keep your capital on hand for building the business; you will need it for networking, marketing and future investments.
3. You have no marketing strategy.
When it comes to branding, pay a professional to design your logo, website and other marketing materials. You may know your product but your lack of knowledge in to how to represent it properly to your potential client can hurt you. Enter the market with a focused marketing strategy and first-class materials that will elevate your business to a professional level from your first appointment on.
4. You work in isolation.
Many entrepreneurs can work for days on end and not see another human being. Get out of your pajamas and surround yourself with other talented and self-motivated professionals. Join networking groups, volunteer, serve on boards and other activities in order to generate new ideas and connect with like-minded individuals.
5. You underprice.
To determine what you should charge, look at your entire cost of doing business, including materials, labor, rent, utilities, taxes, and more. In the beginning, you should be able to cover your expenses and break even or make a small profit. Also, research competitive pricing; see what others are charging for similar services. Don’t venture too far off the average, either high or low. The more specific your niche, and the more in demand you are, however, the higher the price you can charge.
6. You give in to distraction.
Do you check email every time it dings, or spend hours surfing the Internet? Distraction eats up time and profit more than any other factor. Determine the specific activities that generate income (client appointments, contacts and networking) and spend the majority of your day on them. Set a formal work schedule and stick to it. Make income-generating tasks your first priority every morning, fill in with housekeeping chores, and hire out tasks that can be done by others.
Before starting any business, remember to do your research, network with other successful business owners, establish a budget and stick to it, and you will eventually achieve the profits – and the satisfaction – you desire.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).