Entrepreneurship is tough enough as it is.
The path is not at all clear sometimes and that ends up meaning there are a ton of different mistakes Entrepreneurs make.
Today we're going to break down the top 11 mistakes Entrepreneurs make so that you can be sure to avoid these pitfalls.
Let me know in the comments below if you have personally made any of these or if you have any follow up questions.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Henry David Thoreau unfortunately had it right.
Too many of us want to start a business but never do.
Our minds get awfully creative in coming up with reasons why we can't start a business.
It's a daunting prospect and a significant risk, so we delay, delay, delay.
But starting a business can be one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. It's empowering, it builds character, and it can provide true financial freedom.
At the end of the day, you just have to start. Accept that it won't be perfect and just start taking action.
Even if you fail, you'll pick up invaluable information along the way that will make it that much easier to start your next business.
Once you do decide to take the leap, the single biggest mistakes Entrepreneurs make is not committing.
I'm not using that word lightly.
Entrepreneurship is a fucking grind.
You're guaranteed to fail and nobody is going to come clean up your messes – it all falls on you.
So if you haven't firmly decided that you're going to make this work no matter what, it's never going to pan out how you want.
You have to ask yourself how bad you really want it. If you don't crave this shit with every ounce of you, it simply won't work.
You have to want it more than you want to spend weekends with friends.
You have to want it more than you want to take vacations.
You have to want it more than you want to watch your favorite TV show.
There are so many obstacles. So many moments where you'll feel defeated and the path won't at all seem clear.
So when you think about being an Entrepreneur, if you say things like “yeah, that'd be cool,” or “I should start a business,” don't even bother getting started. The level of commitment required is off the charts.
If you don't feel that level of commitment currently, try out the exercise I mention in my How Bad Do You Want It post. Go burn those ships.
This one kills me.
No seriously, it pains me to think about this one.
Reason being – it's personal. I've seen this play out not only with myself but also with a lot of people I'm close to.
So many of us end up waiting until everything is perfect before jumping in. We want the perfect business plan, the perfect business partner, the perfect economic conditions, and every little detail on our website ironed out.
In reality, business is incredibly messy. Nothing is ever perfect, so there is no sense in waiting and planning till kingdom come in the first place.
For me, I knew I wanted to start building my personal brand for a long time, but I waited. And then I waited some more. And then I planned. And then I went back to waiting.
Looking back, I was simply afraid.
I didn't want to embrace the unknown. And ultimately, I wasn't quite confident I'd be able to figure it out if I did fail.
Entrepreneurship isn't about making a plan that eliminates the possibility of failure because it's just that good.
Rather, entrepreneurship is about taking massive action and then figuring out how to adapt when things don't go your way. The person who gets up the most after failing wins – period.
I went into a lot of detail on this point back in my post on finding a mentor, but it's so important that it deserves reviewing here.
As we just covered, business is tough shit.
There are so many unforeseen obstacles that make the journey that much more challenging.
But what if you could eliminate (or at least be aware) of the majority of those obstacles?
That's what having a proven mentor does for you. But giving you advice on how to avoid or overcome challenges is really only scratching the surface of how mentors can help you.
Mentors help Entrepreneurs in 4 distinct ways:
So I implore you, take the time to go find a mentor. It's not as hard as you think and it will exponentially impact your growth as an Entrepreneur.
For more on how to actually find a mentor, check out my post on mentorship.
It's tempting, I know.
Your business is like your first child.
You want to give it everything it asks for.
Every need seems like it has to be addressed.
And worst of all, it's easy to justify. After all, if you're going to spend money, you may as well spend it on your business, right?
While that is correct, it's all too easy to get carried away here.
As you get started in Entrepreneurship, you'll realize there's an endless list of products and services designed to make your life as an Entrepreneur easier.
While it's great that these products exist, it's brutal at the same time. With each one, you get that dopamine rush and you wonder how your business could possibly operate without it.
It seems like it's an absolute must.
You're smarter than that, though. Right?
You know that it's not about how much you make, but how much you take home.
While I'm all about maximizing revenue, at some point you have to actually pay the bills. So you have to be incredibly selective in terms of where and how you spend money.
If not, before you know it you'll be spending hundreds or even thousands every month and making it too difficult to actually overcome your costs.
When just starting out, one of the biggest mistakes Entrepreneurs make is spending too much money in their personal lives.
Just as in the last point where you can't afford to spend too much in the business, it's even more important to manage your personal spending.
Every single dollar you spend on yourself is a dollar you can't put towards growing your business.
Yes, this means making sacrifices. I'm not going to sugar coat it and tell you it doesn't.
You can't have a thriving business and spend $200 at the club every Saturday night. At least not in the beginning.
The funny thing, though, is that when you're truly committed to this, it doesn't really feel like much of a sacrifice. It's just part of what has to be done. The option to go out every weekend and blow money unnecessarily isn't even really an option, so it doesn't hurt that much.
Focus on living small for the first 3 or 4 years. Understand that each dollar that comes into your wallet has one job and one job only – to go out there and earn you more dollars.
Every dollar you save is a dollar that can be invested. Ultimately, you do get to a point where you're able to spend more freely (that's the whole point, right?).
But in the beginning, living small is the key.
Even if you decided to be super frugal when you go out on weekends, that's not enough.
Not being laser focused when you're starting a business is one of the biggest mistakes Entrepreneurs make.
At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, I'll say it again – Entrepreneurship is tough shit.
Why make it harder on yourself than it needs to be by diverting your attention all over the place.
You have to cut out the distractions. At a bare minimum, you have to dramatically cut back on them. Maybe go to that birthday party once in a while or spend time with the girlfriend once a week. But outside of that, it's one-on-one time between you and your business.
You can have the best business plan in the world, but if you're not focused, what the hell is the point?
You can read every business book in the world, but if you keep watching TV for 3 hours every night, how are you ever going to make progress?
To me, this comes down to this subconscious belief that we always have more time.
Newsflash – that's a lie.
Every day that passes where you're unfocused is another day wasted. Those days add up.
Whether you like it or not, you and I are both slowly marching towards death. I know that sounds morbid, but that's the reality.
So wake up to the fact that the clock is ticking and get focused.
This is another painful one for me.
I struggled with this for a little while but I also have friends that struggle with this.
Too many of us feel like we need to be the next Google or Facebook. We think we need to have a totally revolutionary idea in order to start a business.
That simply isn't true.
If you take a look at the Forbes list, you'll see that most successful entrepreneurs didn't reinvent the wheel – they just executed.
They saw a profitable market, got into it whether they knew much about it or not, and competed.
While yes, if you want to become an overnight billionaire you're going to need one hell of an idea coupled with incredible execution, for the rest of us there is plenty of money to be made by getting into an existing industry, somehow differentiating ourselves from our competition (not even as much as you might think is required) and outselling/outcompeting them.
There are multimillionaires who own car washes, landscaping companies, and all sorts of random, boring businesses. I had a client at the bank who owned a fresh seafood delivery business – he made more than $5,000,000 a year.
These people aren't developing revolutionary inventions that change the whole landscape or create new industries. They're going out into the marketplace and executing.
Execution beats ideas every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Your job as a new Entrepreneur is to go out and collect checks – that's it.
But in order to have a laser-like focus on sales, you need to keep things simple.
Put out your Minimum Viable Product, sell the hell out of that and only then should you worry about other components of your product line.
As I said earlier, your business is like your first child. As Entrepreneurs, we tend to get overly excited about it. This is a good thing, but only in moderation.
If we spend more time on product development than actually getting customers in the door, our businesses won't last long enough for those products to make it to market in the first place.
Determine what the market needs the absolute most. Deliver that, get as many happy customers as you possibly can, and then figure out how to further monetize that customer base.
We live in the information age.
If you spend any amount of time at all online, you're going to constantly be exposed to new ways to make money and different business models.
Inevitably, things will get tough with whatever business model you're trying to implement. When that happens, it'll be all too easy to just want to switch things up and move on to either a new strategy or a new business entirely.
You have to ignore these temptations. I learned this the hard way.
Throughout my life, I've started a number of different ventures that I simply gave up on way too easily. Had I stuck with them, I probably could have made any one of them successful.
Angela Duckworth, a psychologist who's studied success extensively, determined that one of the most important determinants of success is Grit (basically one's ability to stick with a particular venture for an extended period of time).
Only once you've dedicated large amounts of time to practicing a particular pursuit can you truly start to make progress. Don't let the temptation to change course get the better of you. Every obstacle has a way around it. Find it and keep moving forward.
For more on the concept of Grit, I can't recommend Angela Duckworth's book highly enough:
Did I mention the clock is ticking?
Well, it is. And that's why one of the most common traits that successful Entrepreneurs share is a sense of urgency.
If you keep watching TV at night thinking you can just do it tomorrow…
If you keep going out on the weekends thinking you can just do your work during the week…
If you keep taking vacations thinking you can just do it next month…
Your business will never get off the damn ground.
To me, this is one of the worst mistakes Entrepreneurs make.
Success in business (or really anything) requires taking massive action. You can't skate by with just a little bit of work here, a little there.
I hear so many people, both in person and in the comments sections online, talking about how they want to do this or they want to do that…
Alex is a serial entrepreneur, coach, and active investor who drives growth and scale for his portfolio companies.