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6 More DON'T's When Starting Your Business!

Small business mistakes to avoid
Several months back I created a blog post entitled "6 DON'Ts When Starting Your Business".  In it I wrote, primarily because of the availability of technology, this has, without question, been one of the easiest times ever to start a new business. It has also, probably, never been harder to make a start-up successful than it is today.

Critical to that is the importance of focus in the early going. But, as I noted, then, it's just as important, maybe more so, to not do stupid things that take away from that focus.

So, staying true to my contrarian self, instead of telling you the things to do to be successful, I gave you a list of stuff not to do, the remarkably dumb things - the 6 "don't's" that start-ups should avoid.

I got such positive feedback from both budding and veteran entrepreneurs that I thought I'd follow it up with six more because there's no end to the number of dumb things early stage entrepreneurs can do to, potentially, scuttle a great business concept and "shoot themselves in the foot."

So here they are, six more small business mistakes. Avoid them or they will do you in!

1. Don't think you've "invented fire."

Whenever I hear from an entrepreneur that "this has never been done before," or, "there is no competition," I quickly categorize this as the potential of another instance of the invention of fire, which as we know has been around for a bit.

My way of noting that, usually, when entrepreneurs say this, it, means they haven't done their homework. Almost every concept has been attempted at one time or another, some very poorly with bad results, but rarely is there something hasn't EVER been done before.

You need to "go to school" on everything even close to what you're trying to do to learn their mistakes so as not to repeat them yourself.  

And when there is no competition, typically, there is no market. If there truly is a market need or a problem to be solved, it will have been tried, and there will be competition.

2. Don't look for investors before you have a business.

Trying to raise outside capital is one of biggest mistakes and time-wasters early stage entrepreneurs can make. Sure, Uncle Sid might put a couple of bucks into your idea to help you "get out of the blocks."

But unless you have proven your concept and have both a customer (more than one would be better) and real revenue, don't even think about approaching any professional investors. They will always listen, but you will be wasting valuable time (yours and theirs) that you could be using further your product and get more customers and revenue.

3. Don't do it without seeking (and using) advice.

Starting a business can be a lonely undertaking, especially, in the early going when it might just be you trying to get it off the ground. Seek out mentors and advisors, folks who have been there and ask for their advice, if nothing more than being a "sounding board" for you. And more important, listen to them.  Wherever possible use their opinions. In the early stages, much of it will be free.

4. Don't figure that "if you build it, they will come!"

Entrepreneurs in their passion about their business concept, often, think that it makes such obvious sense that there is no way folks won't be rushing to their door with dollars in hand. As I've noted in a previous blog, "if you build it, they will come," only works in the movies.

Potential customers need to know about your product and know what it will do for them and why they should buy it from you. That's called marketing and with social media, it's easier than ever to make folks aware...but you still have to take action! And don't forget, without customers, you have no business!

5. Don't let a setback set you back.

Setbacks go with the territory. You will have a boatload of them, and many will impact your wallet. Few, if any, will be "business threatening."  

But they all hurt. Prospects who lead you to believe they will become one of your first customers, only to walk away without so much as a thank you for your time. Suppliers who promise you delivery until they don't. Contractors whose day job suddenly intervenes and they cause you to miss a major deadline with a prospective customer. Find an alternative and move on!

6. Don't forget your significant other, your family...and you!

While you are "all consumed" by your business, don't forget the people who are most impacted by it - your significant other and your family, if you have one. They, of course, with your ultimate success, will be the beneficiaries, but right now, they'd just like to see you now and then.

So, it's important that they understand what you're doing and why. They need you...and you need them. So make time for them.

And lastly, don't forget you. You need time, carved out just for you, whether it's a run in the park, an hour at the gym, meditating or reading. It's important to your mental health and your ability to carry on.

As I previously noted, early stage success is as much predicated on not doing the wrong things as it is on doing the right ones...maybe, more so.  These are just another group of "don't's" to keep firmly in mind as you roll out, and you'll avoid the pain and suffering some of your peers have already been through. And good'll need that too!  

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!

Have you been burned by any of these "don't's?" Please share your thoughts in your comments. It can help another entrepreneur.

If you like this post, by all means, share it with your networks and colleagues.

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