Here are five mistakes I made my first year in business:
I thought I could do it all alone.
I’ve always tended to be somewhat of a loner, but the structure of organizations always provided me with a mandatory team of coworkers and colleagues, which I probably resented at some point during my career, but benefited greatly from. Starting my own business, my lone wolf tactics went into full (negative) effect. I no longer had team mates to collaborate with or an even a structured department to consult when encountering big problems – it was just me.
Naïve, I thought I could do it all – launch and manage a successful company – alone. Not only did I think that I could (which I was later proved to be greatly mistaken), but I thought I should, citing my misinformed perceptions of successful, self-made entrepreneurs. Boy, was I wrong. It takes a team of people to run a business, or at the very least, to support an entrepreneur. Trying to go about everything “all by yourself” is a recipe for entrepreneurial disaster.
Lesson #1: Reach out to others, build your team, and work together to turn your business idea into a success.
I took on way too much, too fast.
Overly inspired by some pump-you-up, get rich quick, business guru’s speech, I dove head first into the world of entrepreneurship, championing a fight song that went something like “No pain, no gain! Big risk, big rewards!” and a lot of other misguided “go for it all with no consideration of the consequence” attitudes.
I took on way too much, way too fast, with “go big or go home” as my near-dying mantra. Instead of slowly scaling my company in a way that was conducive to innovation and stabilized modification, I was swinging big with every pitch the business world threw me.
End result: I was exhausted, totally spent, and had very little to show for my big leaps – sure, my successes had been big, but so had my losses. It was no way to manage a career, much less a business.
Lesson #2: Don’t take on too much, too fast. Scale your business sensibly.
I burned too many bridges.
Starting my own business, I really neglected the whole “need other people” concept, and put very little stock in preserving professional relationships. I used other professionals for sales leads, and would simply leave them in the dust. I lashed out at industry vendors after one or two product mishaps, never considering that our paths may cross again. Even with bad clients and my then-competitors, I reacted in a way that left no hope of future collaboration. Basically, I burned a lot of bridges that just didn’t need to be crossed again.
It’s a small world, and industry circles are even smaller. While no one is expected to get along with everyone, there’s a big difference from burning bridges and cordially parting ways. Sure, there are definitely some unscrupulous individuals in the business world that need their bridges burned, but most people – even that aggravating client that’s always late to pay – deserve an amicable send off.
Lesson #3: Don’t burn any bridge that you don’t have to and make friends when you can.
I didn’t wait for the market to speak.
My first flopped business was a in the cutthroat world of retail. Anyone that has invested in retail can attest to its many frustrating aspects – add the fast paced world of ecommerce in there, and you’ve got your hands full. Starting out, my first priority was to have a fully stocked store (Big Mistake #1), so I took all my money and stocked the store. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Nothing (and I mean nothing) sold. There I was, surrounded by my carefully selected, super- fab inventory that apparently no one wanted.
When starting a business, it’s better to ease into things – like new product lines – testing the market as you go vs. going in lock, stock, and barrel. In today’s world, we’ve got TON of ways to test the market before committing all our resources – crowdfunding, dropship, presales, online orders (that can be canceled), etc. Experienced entrepreneurs take an inspiring business idea, and test it, allowing the market to provide some feedback before going whole hog.
Lesson #4: Don’t fall in love with your “brilliant business idea” – test the market and see if it takes.
I totally neglected networking.
As a young entrepreneur, I initially thought the only people that mattered were either people involved in delivering my product, or people interested in buying my product. With such tunnel vision focus, I completely forgot to acknowledge the presence of other potential supporters, and totally neglecting this critical career component we call “networking”. Couple months into my business, I was in dire need to strategic contacts, but none were to be found.
Always striving to learn from my mistakes (the light bulb was conceived after 10,000 attempts, right?), I made a commitment to my career to consistently prioritize networking. While such a strategy may vary from individual to individual, for me, it involved dedicating two hours a week to network with other professionals – be it coffee dates or networking events – and attending a minimum of four to six conferences annually.
Lesson #5: Prioritize networking throughout your career – especially, when you’re starting a new business.
Discover more entrepreneur strategy by enrolling in Hannah’s DIY Marketing & PR for Busy Professionals online course. Graduate from this all-inclusive educational experience with a top notch marketing and public relations strategy along with the nitty-gritty know how to execute in a way that gets RESULTS. Visit: www.mprcourses.com for more information.
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