Being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks. Sometimes it can feel like we’re kayaking up stream with a soup ladle, not realizing the ease of which our travels could be made by reversing our direction, or you know… using a paddle? While there’s a tremendous amount of appreciation for the art of trying, and the lessons learned from failing, entrepreneurs never set out with the intention of being unsuccessful their entire career.
I’d like to share some of the best tips for those of you who are on the up and coming path of running a business and working under your own determination. Mistakes are guaranteed to happen, but here are four ways to prevent some of the bigger ones from adding your business to the 50-70% that will fail in the first 18 months.
1. Not Asking For Feedback From Your Customers
I have a good friend, brilliant in all ways business but one: getting to know the people he wants to buy his product. While your idea, service, or art may sit pleasantly in the realm of personal admiration and approval, those you intend to buy it might have a suggestion (even small ones) that will take your sales to the next level. Not being able to take constructive criticism will only hurt your business in the long run.
The biggest companies out there also have the best methods for customer surveys and outreach. Would you want to buy from someone who doesn’t care about the experience you had with their service?
Treat every customer knowing they’re ultimately the one helping sustain your lifestyle.
2. Going Into Business With The Wrong Partner
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”-Jim Rohn
A quote that we believe will live on timelessly, and has everything to do with those you’re setting out to be successful with. In College, institutions place high value on social science as a supplement to nurturing the way in which we work among others, knowing how we act emotionally (EQ) plays a bigger role in successful businesses than (IQ).
Sometimes we select a business partner based on a particular skill, knowing nothing about their ability to work cooperatively on a regular basis. Making a partnership work starts well before the union is formed, and we suggest asking yourself six questions when you’re looking to pick a partner.
3. Choosing Not To Emphasize Marketing
I have another friend, and in this instance he believes the best businesses are found organically. While this may be true for your local restaurant, word of mouth cannot compete with the way in which search engine optimization has gripped our culture. When you’re visiting a new city, how do you choose where to get a hotel? Where to eat?
You Google it, right? Right. It’s that simple, and like it or not most businesses will not survive without maxing out efforts to be seen online where 70% of mobile customers will call a business directly from the search pages.
4. Going Too Heavily Into Debt
There’s a strong temptation we all face when we’re planning out our first business, and that’s to borrow a reckless amount of money in hopes the investment will pay for itself once the profits start rolling in. For most, that loan will be spent much faster than intended, and there’s nothing to show for it.
Nowadays, there are brilliant ways to replace, or even supplement the money you take out on credit, a few being:
- Crowd Sourcing – If you have a great idea, try taking it online where people may be willing to help you get it off the ground. Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and Crowdfunder are three of the best and largest user bases to help forgo money borrowed.
- Government Grants – Although regulated and sometimes difficult to qualify for, these grants are in place to help you become a contributing entity of this country. What’s great is you won’t have to pay it back! Think you qualify?
- Pockets – Yes, as in your pants and wallet. Having the money up front will save you the pain of having a business fail, and still owing $50,000 with no foreseeable income. Sell an asset, consult friends and family, or get to saving.
Perhaps the fifth mistake most entrepreneurs will make is not taking advice. I sit here reflecting on all the times in which actual recommendations could have saved me from unnecessary turmoil. Don’t be afraid of failure, but even more important don’t forget to learn from those mistakes so they won’t happen again.
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