I’ve learned a lot about business success after three decades of practicing law and starting my own businesses. The more I learn the more I realize that mastery of the simplest things always forms the foundation for a winning business venture.
In the interest of full disclosure, I made the majority of the seven critical mistakes I’m sharing here, so let me help you shorten your learning curve by avoiding a of repeat of that history.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs think business starts with their idea. And, many business coaches are happy to start you there. I count that as the first critical mistake people make in business so technically there are eight!
Before you turn your attention to refining and developing your business idea here are seven critical mistakes that you can turn into stepping stones to success by doing the direct opposite of what most people do.
- Not having a compelling reason for wanting a business.
New entrepreneurs have a variety of reasons for starting a business. Some see it as glamorous. Some simply feel it’s better than working for someone else. Others like the flexibility of being their own boss. And, some find it rewarding to do something they have created.
While those are nice perks for business owners your reason needs to be compelling not just nice. Entrepreneurship comes with challenges and your compelling reason will keep you focused on pushing through them. Make sure you drill deep and establish the true reason you want a business.
- Failing to develop the mindset of an entrepreneur.
Most small businesses fail from flawed execution. Many new entrepreneurs lack the skills and resources necessary to bring their ideas to life solely because they don’t equip themselves with them before they begin.
Commit yourself to acquiring knowledge to adjust your mindset to that of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs think differently than employees. This is an acquired skill that can be developed with the right training.
Take time to read the stories of successful entrepreneurs not just for the inspiration but for the gems they share on thinking like a business person. Take a course or two on success mindset and visionary thinking. Those will put you in the right mindset for business success.
- Failing to educate yourself before you start.
New entrepreneurs typically spend 12 years in primary education, another 4 in college and possibly more in graduate school, all in preparation to secure employment. But, when it comes to starting a business many get almost no direction on the topic before venturing into uncharted waters. It doesn’t make sense but it’s exactly what we do!
I recommend that you start by reading Startup CEO by Matt Blumberg. Matt’s book offers an incredible assembly of experiences in which he shares what it means to be the CEO of your company. You will find his journey full of insights that will help you with yours.
- Failing to find mentors.
Talking to mentors is one of the fastest ways to shorten your learning curve. Mentors have experiences, resources, and connections that will accelerate your start and smooth your path. And, they can help navigate you past challenges and provide moral support.
Find mentors who have experience in your industry and general business experience with the type and size of business you’re looking to start. Look to them for advice on important decisions and also have them connect you to other professionals in their network.
To better understand the value of mentors I highly recommend reading The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann. The wisdom in that short parable is priceless.
- Failing to associate with other entrepreneurs.
Joining entrepreneur organizations and groups is a great way to learn from others and to find support for your own business idea. There are plenty of online groups that make interacting with entrepreneurs very easy.
If you’re in a good group the members will be doing the things in this article and that makes it easier to hold yourself accountable. It also means they’ll be making great connections, finding valuable resources and sharing them with you and others. There’s nothing like being a member of an entrepreneur “fraternity”!
- Failing to reduce your vision to writing.
The teachings of Napoleon Hill taught me the importance of reducing your business vision to writing. In his book, The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons he shares a three step process called the Definite Chief Aim. I highly recommend that you grab a copy of the book and follow the three step process. It will form the foundation for everything else in your business.
In fact, that one lesson is so important to the future of your business that I’ll cover it in greater detail in another article. It’s worth the effort to go deeper on it than we can here.
- Failing to be open to change and ready to evolve.
Always be open to change. Along your journey, you will change, opportunities will change, and markets will change. You must proceed with your eyes open to where change is taking place and to prepare yourself to pivot in it’s direction when desirable.
Nobody draws up the perfect idea and plan on the first attempt. Be ready to learn as you go and to adjust your approach when needed.
One of my favorite books on the importance of knowing when to pivot is Disrupt You!, by Jay Samit. Jay is a business genius. In the book he shares an array of wonderful entrepreneurial stories that you’ll both enjoy and gain inspiration from in the process.
Remember, your entrepreneurial journey starts well before you begin to execute your idea. And, it will start and proceed on much more favorable and enjoyable terms if you take stock of these seven mistakes and turn them to your advantage by not making them. Good luck!