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The Path To Start-Up Success Avoid mistakes other entrepreneurs have made and speed up your path to success.

By Mark Hopkins

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Being an entrepreneur is really hard work. Get rich quick schemes don't work. There are, however, ways you can avoid making the same mistakes others have — and there are ways you can speed up the path to success.

But you cannot get around the fact that it takes hard work and sacrifices. Lots of hard work and lots of sacrifices in fact. So, here are some of the key mistakes that we see when working with businesses and business owners to help you avoid making the same ones.

Are you really good at everything?

No-one is perfect and good at everything (although there may be a few out there who disagree with me on this one). The reality is that we all have things that we are really good at and things that don't interest us or we are rubbish at. This is completely normal and doesn't make you less of an entrepreneur.

The businesses that thrive are those that are led by individuals who are comfortable to admit this and then surround themselves with experts who can deliver what the business needs. This can be in the form of outsourcing or support.

The entrepreneurs who are too proud to admit they are not perfect increase the chances of their business failing. So, write down a list of things you don't enjoy doing or aren't good at and decide if they can trip you up. If they can, outsource them or work with an expert who will protect you and your business.

Do you really have a good idea and will it make money?

There are people in our lives who will tell us what we want to hear. They love us and want us to be successful and so will struggle to have the conversation with us that says, "actually this isn't really a good idea.' Being a business owner is not about getting told you are perfect and right, it is about getting the truth about whether you have something that people might buy or not.

Once you have confirmed that it is a good idea you then need to work out if you can make money from it. Can you sell it at a price that people will purchase and give you a good profit at the end? There is no point building a business where you are only going to lose money. Do the maths before you do anything else.

Do you understand your business pipeline?

Every business is reliant on getting enough customers to buy your products. The only way your business survives and grows is if you are clear on your business pipeline. The pipeline begins with understanding what problem you are solving and for whom. You then need to test the solution.

Now you plan how you are going to market and then sell your product to your target audience (while making a profit). Product build and delivery becomes the focus, underpinned by your administration, finance and people processes. The pipeline then repeats itself. A business is like a puzzle; if you miss a piece of the puzzle the picture is never complete. If you miss a step in your pipeline, profit will just leak out of your business.

Do you have a plan?

Creative people plan their lives to be creative. Without some form of a plan how do you know if you are being successful? Having a plan allows you to ensure everyone is aligned to the destination you are working towards and that you can focus on doing the things that are a priority for your business and not those that are the noisiest.

Be clear on what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, how you are going to achieve it and who is responsible for achieving what. Start by answering these questions and you will have a great plan for everyone to follow.

The path to success is never a straight line and it's always full of challenges and pitfalls. Accept that you will make mistakes but by following the above four guidelines, you will avoid falling into the trap of making the most common mistakes of entrepreneurs.

Mark Hopkins

Co-founder: Tetrakey

Mark Hopkins is the co-founder of Tetrakey, a performance-focused business and personal coaching company. Mark is a serial entrepreneur who has launched businesses across four continents. He is the South African Men’s hockey coach. Visit" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">

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