7 Mistakes Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

Everybody makes mistakes, entrepreneurs who built business empires included. It might sound like a cliché, but every mistake is an opportunity to learn in life. It is not different for entrepreneurs; even the mistakes that have heavy tolls, such as bankruptcy, are valuable. It seems like most entrepreneurs agree with the fact that there can be invaluable lessons if you realise the mistakes you made and learn from them.

We surveyed more than 170 startup founders to learn what kind of content they would like to see and engage on our platform. The results showed us that almost all of the people who took the survey made a mistake in their entrepreneurship journey, and they are both ready to share theirs and learn from others. So, we started contacting entrepreneurs around the UK and a few other countries and asking them about their mistakes and what they learned from them. After receiving feedback from 30 entrepreneurs, we found out that every entrepreneur should avoid seven types of mistakes.

1.   Client Management Has Key Importance

You can be among the best you can do, but it has no value if you can’t manage your clients and their expectations. Sometimes you shouldn’t even work with a client if you feel you’re not a good match with them. Stephanie Melodia, Director of Bloom LTD, went through the latter. She describes one of her most challenging experiences as “to work with a client who was a bad fit from the off.”

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You might want to reconsider and prefer to be in a financially challenging situation rather than working with a client you can’t get along with. Stephanie says that she got through tough times with the support of her network and learned to trust her intuition when it comes to picking clients.

Managing clients is not usually easy, especially if you have a shy character like Filip Albert, a freelance web developer. Consistently following up with your clients is essential to get a job done, and Filip admits that he hadn’t done that in his early days of business. He even felt diffident to ask for money which felt very strange for him, but actually, perfectly normal. Being assertive is related to your personal development and a character quality you can improve over time. “Some people are assertive naturally, but those who are not, really need to acquire assertiveness,” says Filip.

2.   Think About Your Marketing Strategy Thoroughly

If you have a great product or a unique service, you might think that it’s easier for you to get customers through a single channel or a limited marketing activity. You’re mistaken. Julianna Sudi, Co-founder of LookApp, thought that digital marketing was adequate for a digital product. She “didn’t pursue investment for advertising, networking, and sales, thinking that digital marketing is all what a digital product needs to be sold.”

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Even though you work with a small budget, spending money for advertising pays off in the end if you build a good marketing strategy. Owyn Rees, Founder of Quidditch for Muggles, is an opposite example of Julianna. He had a service that his customers had to be physically present in a specific environment. Still, he found success when he spent money on advertising rather than counting on word of mouth and an organic online presence. Owyn thinks that “spending money on advertisement is important because it allows you to reach more customers and in turn, make more money.”

Marketing is not always spending money to get your name out there; it’s also about building relationships that might help you distribute your products or services.

Delaying such partnerships might cause you a lot, as it did with Ema Rimeike, Founder of Quantum Cybersecurity Skills for SOC. She stresses out the importance of identifying the proper fit of channel partners, researching how your solution would enrich their current portfolio, thinking about a few business use cases how your solution could be implemented at their customer environment with ROI in mind, differentiating from competitors, and importance of early partnerships.

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3.   Be Careful When You’re Evaluating Your Prices and Budget

Managing your prices and budget is of utmost importance if you want to have strong finances to keep your business going. Modesty is a great character trait, but being too modest, especially in business, might cause you to undervalue yourself, your products, and your services.

Amos Webberley, Owner of AD Property Services, says that his biggest mistake was underpricing his service. But, of course, modesty is not the only reason; lack of market research might cause the same result.

Nomvula Mpungose, Owner of NBT Bikinis, tells “my biggest mistake as a new small business owner was not doing enough research about the market I was going into, how to price my products in a way that is profitable for my small business but still fair on my customers.”

You need to be careful where you spend your money too. Arif Hussein, Co-founder of Klyk, spent most of their startup funds on website design. His experience made him realise that investing in the customer experience doesn’t mean a better user experience on the website. Arif sums up what he learnt from his experience as “trying to predict the actual customer journey is a tough thing to do. It’s important to let this happen organically where possible, rather than prejudging and then not having the resources to be nimble and make a change if your anticipated approach needs a tweak or even a fundamental change.”

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Another example of poor budget management was from Verdad Mupezeni, Owner of Chartarm. He told us that his biggest mistake was purchasing a large amount of stock without establishing a good client base, then he started to develop a business plan that included a step-by-step marketing plan.

You might have a business plan with an expected revenue forecast, and you might adjust your budget accordingly; you should consider there might always be “unforeseen expenses and unexpected issues,” as Paula Alcalde, Founder of GreenBay, told us. She learnt a lot from those early mistakes, which she describes are “invaluable.” Paula states that they now have the experience and knowledge that has allowed them to anticipate problems and adequately plan for them in advance. They have become extremely good at managing capital and growing the business on a shoestring budget.

4.   Take Funding Seriously

“I didn’t realise trying to fundraise would basically turn into a full-time job in itself,” says Nathan Svirsky, CEO & Co-Founder, HomeWerk.

A significant amount of startups rely on funding for consistent finances, and the funding rounds, no matter at which stage your startup is, requires hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. However, Nathan says that it’s never too early to start contacting investors, and it’s not only about the money.

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Their experience and networks also give you an advantage at any stage of raising funds. Also, going for the right investor matters. Otherwise, you might have an experience like Suzanne Noble, Co-founder of Silver Sharers (now Nestful). She thinks if you try to reach investors without discrimination, you might end up in a desperate situation. So your quest for funding should be to the point and consistent, as Sam Tugman, Shareholder of Umbra Technologies, puts it.

5. Don’t Doubt Yourself but Don’t Be Overconfident

It’s possible to suffer from impostor syndrome if you try to please every customer, instead of trying to “pinpoint your niché,” in other words, your USP, as Jess Archer, Founder of Savvy Phnx did. After narrowing her offering and believing in her value, she says she gained confidence and started attracting the ideal clients for her.

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Your clients are not just sources of income, they are also your solution partners, and your relationship can have mutual, balanced benefits for both sides. If you work with a client and the only thing you have is a financial benefit for the sake of your mental and physical wellness, just quit before you harm yourself and your business more.

Self-doubt might even cause you to delay launching your business, especially when you don’t know whom to go for advice. Steph Van Der Wens, Founder of A Brand New Day, recommends discussing your business ideas with other founders and mentors who have experience in the same field.

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Trusting your guts has its advantages but sometimes, taking a step back and evaluating your business path is as important as being confident. Aarish Shah, Founder of EmergeOne, says his biggest mistake was not backing himself or second-guessing the decisions he made when information was scarce. He learnt to have the courage of his convictions but also to be prepared to change them if the data changes.

6.   Doing Everything by Yourself Is a Big Mistake

When you start a company, it’s perfectly normal to manage everything by yourself—this one is one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make. As stated in one of our articles, you should at least work with an accountant to care for your financial operations.

There are many other areas that you can get help to run a healthier, faster, and more efficient business. Lee Lehane-Blackford, Founder of Colossiam, says he started “trying to do too much too soon” instead of focusing on his strategy and content direction to build his brand.

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It’s not impossible to build everything by yourself from scratch and achieve your goals, but it might take longer than you expected. “After a corporate career in the gaming industry, I really wanted to call all the shots of my business, bootstrap and create g33kdating just the way I imagined in my head,” Matthias Fellinger, Founder of g33kdating, told us, and added, “I did, but it took me way longer than I ever anticipated and planned for.” However, he admits that he could have avoided many of the mistakes he had made along the way if he wasn’t stubborn, even though sometimes it helps to get over tough times.

Planning ahead and identifying areas where you might need help from the start will help you grow your business more efficiently and faster.

7.   Pick the Correct Business Strategy to Match Your Goals

Great ideas don’t always work well. Today MMO games have tens of billions of pounds market. It’s a lot harder to compete in that market because it might be a little too late, but there was a time that it was a little too early. Chris Pointon, Co-founder & CTO of Racefully, and his friends developed MMO games when most internet users had only dial-up connections, which was doomed to fail. Even though games were successful, they were unable to monetise them.

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Syed Muhammad Suleman, Founder of Scootia, aimed to establish an eco-friendly urban mobility business with shared e-scooters. Now they’re everywhere, and most solutions for not creating large amounts of carbon footprints are clear. However, Syed says that instead of taking the scooters to recharge, they only took the batteries to make the procedure more eco friendly. Still, they realised that they were producing the same amount of carbon, which is not what they really wanted.

You need to think about your business strategy thoroughly to match them with your goals. Otherwise, it might cost your business in ways you hadn’t imagined.

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