Every entrepreneur is bound to make a mistake at some point.
What matters most are not the mistakes themselves, but how we learn from them and take these learnings and apply them to our businesses in the future.
Luckily, previous generations of entrepreneurs have made mistakes and shared their learnings to help you avoid making the same ones.
When you work with a business mentor, they will likely be familiar with many of these common causes of small business failure and may have even made some of these mistakes themselves.
Here are eight of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make to help you avoid them.
1. Not doing your research
One of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make is failing to adequately research their industry and competitors.
Ask yourself: who else is doing something similar to what I am trying to do? Where are they located?
It’s important to invest time into doing market research to understand your positioning, demand, and pricing models.
Take the time to create a well-researched business plan. This up-front effort will pay off in the long run and will help you avoid some potential challenges when you are launching your business.
2. Not budgeting for marketing
Marketing is one of the most important places to invest your money, especially when you are just starting.
Try to understand where your competitors are spending their marketing budget. Are they advertising on Facebook, investing in content marketing, or running email marketing campaigns? Using this information, make a plan for how you can compete and differentiate your business.
Not a marketing expert? Explore mentors with marketing experience who can guide you through your options and help you build a strong marketing plan.
3. Doing everything yourself
As entrepreneurs, we get used to wearing many different hats in our day-to-day. When operating with a fixed budget, it can be difficult to know where to invest in outside resources to support our business.
But when we try to do everything ourselves, inevitably some areas get overlooked, neglected, or just not given the attention they need to bring significant value to your business. Not to mention the toll multitasking can take on your energy and drive.
A mentor can help you figure out where to invest in outside support and where to focus your energy. The right resources can be a financial investment for your future, but with guidance, you can be confident in their ability to pay off.
4. Creating a business and not a brand
Setting up a business is one thing, building a brand is another. Your brand identity is everything that sets you apart from your competitors.
Are you struggling to communicate what your business does and why you do it? Maybe you have not been attracting the customers that you would like to. This could be due to a lack of clarity around your brand.
A brand doesn’t have to be a big investment when you are starting. The value is in understanding your positioning and being consistent across your communication channels, product and service offerings, mission, and value proposition.
5. Neglecting your finances
Finances are central to your business’s success or failure. As a business owner, it is essential to always be aware of where your finances are—what’s coming in and what’s going out.
For many of us, managing our finances can also feel overwhelming. Or we might make assumptions without taking into account the bigger picture.
But it is very important to learn to be passionate about your finances. This will allow you to better manage your cash and make insightful decisions. It can also help you save money in the long run.
6. Prioritizing your product or service over your customer
When developing your product or service offerings, you must be keeping the end-user—your customer—top of mind.
Your customers are the ultimate key to your long-term success and you want to meet and predict their needs as best you can.
Keeping a customer-first mentality can help you build the level of customer trust and affinity you will need to survive the ups and downs of the business world.
7. Trying to be perfect
Accepting that our business operations will not always run smoothly and perfectly is important.
When we try to be perfect and expect perfection from our work, we can fail to appreciate mistakes and difficulties for the opportunities that they are.
It’s natural and unavoidable to mess up sometimes. What counts is what we do with these mistakes and how we incorporate our learnings into our future planning.
8. Not getting a mentor
A business mentor is a great resource and second set of eyes to help look after your business and you—the business owner.
The right mentor can help you identify pain points, provide invaluable skills and expertise, and offer you some much-needed encouragement when challenges arise.
And the best part? On MicroMentor, mentors are completely free. Simply create an account, browse for the right fit, and start connecting!