For first-time entrepreneurs in particular, the road to success will be fraught with many mistakes and challenges. Being aware of the most common pitfalls of entrepreneurship encountered by their more experienced peers can make all the difference between failure and success for any new startup.
Below, seven entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss some of the biggest mistakes they ever made throughout their career, and explain how new business leaders can avoid the same types of missteps.
Not knowing your industry
Know your industry. This doesn’t mean do market research: That isn’t enough. You need to actually work in that industry, and learn from those who have been there. Assuming you know enough from reading a book is a huge mistake. If you have an idea you like, great, get a job in that field working for someone else, learn what it actually takes to be there, as well as what works and what doesn’t. Then open your shop. – Mark Grignon, Kognitiv, Inc.
Launching a second business too early
My biggest mistake was trying to launch a new startup before the current one had time to mature. We lost a lot of resources. However, mistakes need to be made in order to become a better entrepreneur. I don’t regret my mistake because through it, I found my current CTO and other invaluable contacts. It was a hard time, but it’s the mistakes that will help entrepreneurs grow and become successful. – Jinny Oh, Wander
Making poor hiring decisions
Hiring has always been my weakness. I want to believe that because I am a good person, I will always attract good people. I realised that hiring requires a different type of talent, one that is tailored more towards using discernment to discover if a person would be a good fit. Over time, I noticed that it’s more about chemistry than skills that works in a people-centered team environment. – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing
Spending too much
Money makes you powerful. Don’t spend every dime you make. Don’t forget to pay yourself every month, but more importantly, don’t forget to save. Set a goal to save a lump sum and have a plan for once you achieve that goal. You know the saying, “When you have money, it’s easy to make money.” The reason why no one has money is because they make money and spend it. – Jonathan Bast, T3 Marketing, LLC
Doing too much at once
Trying to do too many things at once was one of my biggest mistakes. Figure what skill set you have that is unique, then focus on that and outsource the rest. – Matt Carpenter, College Funding Services, LLC.
Losing focus of business development
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was sacrificing business development for project management. I lost an entire quarter digging in the trenches, in an effort to maintain profit margins. I should have sacrificed the additional costs to keep our projects running and maintained my position of oversight. It wasn’t only that I lost sales momentum, I also lost high-level perspective. – Allyson Case, Integro Rehab LLC
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made was not properly assessing the timing of starting a venture and taking time to determine if my social, financial and skill capital could meet the needs of that venture. I made this mistake a few times in the beginning, and eventually realised it’s usually best to start a business part time, bootstrap when you can, maximise learning and run with what works. – Dan San, Meural Inc.