Starting and running your own business is an extremely risky undertaking, and not to be entered into lightly. Although entrepreneurship is a thriving concept in South Africa with more and more business men and women taking the plunge and going out on their own, unfortunately a lot of mistakes are made.
Here is a list of the top 10 costly business mistakes you might be making:
- Not knowing what it takes
A lot of people enter into entrepreneurship with little understanding as to what it takes to run a business. Many forget that they will need to work in their business while they work on their business. This can be very challenging, but simply means you will need to make time for both these roles.
- Setting achievable goals
Set goals that are almost out of reach so that you maximise your motivation. Bigger goals help you to navigate through the difficult times, as they set a clear target to work towards.
- Reluctance to take advice
Mentors or successful entrepreneurs have a lot to offer, and yet much of their advice is met with reluctance. Entrepreneurship has a lot to do with ‘gut feel’ but also comes with a lot of trial and error, better avoided by learning from those who came before you.
- No timeline for success/failure
Many businesses struggle on for years because they have not set themselves clear timelines of where the business needs to be, and by when, to constitute a success or a failure. To avoid this crippling you financially, set clear limits or milestones that you absolutely have to reach.
- Building the whole product first
There are a lot of ways to validate your business idea and get traction without spending months (or years) first completing your product. The risk you face is having invested resources and time in a product that might not even be relevant in the market anymore. Rather sell your ideas first and get valuable feedback that will help you provide a unique offering that might be completely different to your initial idea.
- Not defining a process
Take time to define a process, even if it changes over time. This will help you to ascertain which areas of your process need refining, as they will hold up the sales cycle.
- Losing touch with customers
Don’t assume that your customers are on Facebook or LinkedIn; find out where they are so that you don’t waste resources on platforms where they aren’t. Better yet, get out of the office and meet customers face to face (especially for B2B customers).
- Not hiring soon enough
If you don’t hire soon enough your business will not grow, it will just plateau as you get busier. Hiring is an investment in your business, so do so when you are at 80% capacity.
- Lacking sales
Too many startups focus on hiring engineers to develop the product, when they should be growing their sales team to gain traction in the market first. If you want some ideas about selling you are free to contact me at Richard@emagination.co.za; I will give you some pointers on what you can do to improve the sales of your company.
- Being a one man band
If you are the sole business owner right now, strongly consider taking on an equity partner. This enables you to share the load and benefit from both your strong points. You will only harm your business if you try to do everything on your own!