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The Top 5 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make

The co-founder of Anytime Fitness shares his best tips for avoiding some of the all-too-common traps aspiring business owners fall into.

As a new entrepreneur, you want to succeed from the very get-go. That's natural.

Anytime Fitness

But starting a business is a journey replete with frustrating ups and downs. And while there's no singular concrete formula to ace the entrepreneurial game, there are certain mistakes you can easily avoid.

Dave Mortensen, president and co-founder of Anytime Fitness, is no stranger to the business world. With Mortensen's entrepreneurial acumen, Anytime Fitness has accrued a robust repute for providing amazing value to its franchisees. Entrepreneur named Anytime Fitness the "No. 1 Top Global Franchise" in 2015 and 2016.

We talked to Mortensen about the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make when they start a business and how they can avoid falling into the rut of those all-too-common traps.

1. Lacking the proper resources.

You need a variety of resources in order to run a successful business, from good financing to marketing and strategy.

The right kind of funding bolsters a company, regardless of its size and sector. It helps in scaling sales, creating better marketing to attract more customers, and launching products.

One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make is under-resourcing themselves. As it turns out, 90 percent of businesses flop in their early stages due to this prevalent mistake.

From the start, you need a cashflow strategy. "To support an investment in a business, you need to do more than just open the door," Mortensen says.

Before a new franchisee opens a gym, Anytime Fitness hosts comprehensive training sessions for them at the company's new headquarters in Woodbury, Minn. By connecting them with helpful tools and guidance right away, Anytime Fitness makes sure that franchisees have the right resource strategy from the get-go.

2. Thinking the business will run itself.

Once new entrepreneurs have launched their businesses, some forget that they are responsible for managing their business. You can't assume your staff will handle everything and steer your business to success. A poorly run business injects poison into sales, profits, and relationships, down to the very values of the business itself. The consequences of a mismanaged or neglected business can be disastrous.

Dave Mortensen, president and co-founder of Anytime Fitness.
Image credit: Anytime Fitness

"It's important to keep in mind that you are ultimately responsible for this investment," Mortensen says. "Not staying on top of and helping the business grow is a grave mistake."

Everyone needs a little help running the show—especially budding entrepreneurs. Anytime Fitness offers insight and guidance through a number of online forums where people can ask for advice. These resources help to spearhead business in the right, productive direction.

3. Getting caught up in the "weeds.'

Successful entrepreneurs are big-picture people. They look ahead to the future and plan proactively. By crafting a unique vision for their business, they guide it on the right trajectory to success.

But as your business grows and gets busier, it's easy to get caught in the day-to-day grind. New entrepreneurs often lose their initial vision and wind up fixing only minor problems. Mortensen calls this getting stuck in their "comfort zone." But this can lead to neglecting crucial tasks such as taking active control of your fundamental objectives.

To pull people out of the weeds, Anytime Fitness conducts annual conferences where all franchisees are invited. This is a time when best practices, culture and everything under the roof is discussed at length. It's an opportunity for franchisees to look at the big picture and reorient their focus on the bigger goals.

4. Failing to track their progress.

Having a strategy defines the purpose and competitive edge of your business. It gives shape to the scope of your business's operations and its relationship with customers and employees. But just because you make the plan for the year, doesn't mean you can set it and forget it.

As Mortensen advises, you need to constantly follow up with your plan and assess its success. "It's kind of like giving yourself to your own valuation," he says. "Ask yourself, OK, how did I do this year?"

To get franchisees started, Anytime Fitness provides highly structured strategic plans on how to get their business off the ground. New owners are also given the internal resources needed to tackle existing and potential problems. Owners learn to ask themselves, "What did I do right? What did I do wrong? Where do I need to improve and how do I make the changes to make that happen?"

Remember that your strategy won't stay the same forever, but these questions will help orient your focus to the right plan of action.

5. Being afraid of making mistakes.

Top-notch businesses aren't born in a day. It can take a while and a dozen hiccups before a startup stands on its own feet. Seasoned entrepreneurs know this. They believe in one thing: the more you try, the stronger your chance at winning.

When you're new to the game, it's a natural urge to want to be impeccable. In general, people tend to glorify triumph over defeat and forget how debilitating our fear of failure is. It's the same fear, if uncontrolled, that stunts our growth from learning the best lessons of our lives.

This is why Mortensen emphasizes the need to be brave with our gaffes. "You've got to be willing to make a mistake to be able to grow," he says. "A mistake is an opportunity to really improve yourself."

Smart entrepreneurs embrace their mistakes and learn from them for future victories.

For information about Anytime Fitness franchise opportunities, visit

Anytime Fitness

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