Although rewarding and exciting, the journey to starting a successful business is often littered with potholes. These annoying potholes that will make you go slower, swerve in the wrong direction, and sometimes, even making your journey come to an abrupt halt.
In my case, TAC She was the second business I started so by this time I had at least learned to look for the potholes. At the same time with three small kids and a move to a new country I had a lot of things to juggle, just like you have I’m sure, and if I had known to look for some of these potholes it sure would have been a less bumpy ride.
And while there’s no fool-proof way to achieve start-up success, you can learn from the mistakes of myself and others to help make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
Ready to move your business past the potholes? Here are the top three mistakes start-ups make that you should try to avoid.
1. Expect success straight away
To develop a successful business takes time, hard work and a lot of perseverance. All too often new entrepreneurs (read me) get disheartened when they don’t achieve immediate success. Even worse, a lot of businesses crumble before they even begin, as they’re unable to deal with the challenges that come their way.
By planning for the fact that it will take time, you can make sure to put the required resources in place so that if the business takes longer than you expected to get off the ground, you’re able to not just cope but also to keep the steam up to continue to move forward.
And by the way, I still do this today, when we’re launching a new product or introducing a new system or something else, I get excited and expect BIG results straight away. But at least now I know (or my teams gently reminds me) to build the extra measures into the plan.
2. Learn to fail and learn to fail fast
I don’t have statistics on this but I suspect fear of failure is the main reason people never start the business venture they dream of. Thoughts like ‘can I earn money from this’ or ‘have I got what it takes’ and ‘what if it doesn’t work’ stops the idea from even reaching the starting block.
But here you are, in the starting block (well done you’re already ahead of the curve) so now let’s talk about what happens when you fall. And fall you will, that is pretty much the only thing I can guarantee about your journey, but now here’s what to pay attention to: You or your business will not be defined by the fact that you fail it will be defined by what you do after.
And I think you know what I’m about to say, what you do is that you get up, you take note of what made you trip over and then you move forward. Each time you will know more and your business will be better off for it.
When it comes to embracing failure there is another really important part, and you have to take this on-board, don’t compare your apples with someone else’s mango tree. I mean it.
This is not easy, on social media you get to read about the one-hit-wonder, or even the pepole that are on a similar journey as you but all of a sudden have their big breakthrough. This can easily make you doubt yourself and wonder ‘will this ever work’.
But here’s what you need to remember, this is your journey, not theirs. So look up and look forward.
But by all means, if there is anything that you can learn from their journey take note - anything to make your journey smoother or faster.
3. Creating the perfect product before you start selling
Why waste time perfecting a product that nobody wants to buy? Too often we have the idea of what our ideal person, ie your customer, wants and needs and, therefore, we spend time and effort creating what we believe to be the perfect product. Without even asking them.
I can for sure put my hand up to this one, and out of all the mistakes I’ve made - and there are many - this is the one mistake I now avoid like the plague. It can so easily deplete your resources and your business comes to an abrupt halt. I was lucky enough to have a parallel income, one of the benefits of a portfolio career, but this mistake did cost me a lot in wasted time and effort and I do not wish that for you. So here’s what to do to avoid this mistake.
Rather, focus your energy on validating your idea and selling it before you actually develop it. This way, you’re able to gain valuable insights from actual consumers, which you can then use to develop and perfect your offering so you can confidently serve people and earn an income from it.
Also, remember to live by ‘progress over perfect’. Trying to deliver perfect can be detrimental for a start-up, it will really slow down your momentum and worst-case, your product will never see the light of day as you constantly keep improving it.
Remember good enough can change someone’s life but the perfect product that doesn’t get in the hands of your customer will help no one.
4. Trying to do all at once
Okay, I was only intending to list three mistakes but I kind of feel I can’t leave this one out. As an entrepreneur time will always be your nemesis. Add to that motherhood and all the other things you have on which means the time you have to spend on your business will be limited.
Therefore it’s essential that you learn to prioritise the most important tasks that are actually going to help deliver value to your customers and earn you an income. Focus on the crucial few tasks that bring the most rewards or add the most value to your business, and then let the rest of it take a backseat. And let me give you a hint here, you do not need a logo and a fancy website to start selling your product.
Another tip for getting the most out of your time is to focus on the outcome, not the input. So for each time slot that you have available to work on your business, you should have a clear result that you aim to achieve.
To give you an example here, let’s say you have one hour to work on your lead magnet (the free resource you will offer to your audience to start providing value and build trust, no matter what business you have you should have one of these). You then set the timer for 30min and for this dedicated time the result could be to complete the copy. Then for the second half-hour, you design it and make sure it’s ready to go.
Doing it this way ensures that you actually produce results in your business, not just being busy doing stuff. Again remember progress over perfect.
There you go a few mistakes to avoid when starting to build your business. Avoid these and make sure you validate your idea before you invest too much and you will have a successful business in the making.
Time to lead with your lifestyle first.
HANNA GIRLING, wife, mother, business owner, mindset coach, sport enthusiast and forever an optimist.