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Everyone makes mistakes. We all know it, and sometimes we recognize it as soon as we have done it that we have screwed up. Sometimes these mistakes can be avoided, other times they’re made when we’re not in our right minds, and sometimes we have no way of knowing they are mistakes until later. There are thousands of clichés and sayings that talk about mistakes just for these reasons. One way of making sure that mistakes aren’t made is to pay attention to what you’re doing, but another, perhaps more important, method is to pay attention to the mistakes of others. The trick is not just learning from your mistakes, but learning from the mistakes of others as well.
An entrepreneurial friend of mine has started companies around the world. One thing he always tells up and coming entrepreneurs is that they should do as he says, not as he does (or did). He turns all of the mistakes that he has made in business into teaching opportunities, showing others how not to make the same mistakes that he has made. While I cannot, and would not, want to go around telling you all of his mistakes, after all, those are his to tell, I can tell you from personal experience that there are certain things that don’t work, and hopefully you’ll be able to learn from the following:

Choose something you are passionate about

Just because you know an idea can be a successful one, don’t choose it just for that, choose it because it is something that you enjoy.
Look, just because an idea is a great one doesn’t mean that it’s worth the hassle. If it’s not something that you enjoy, don’t do it. If and when it takes off, you’re going to be stuck with that business. You’re going to live it and breathe it as you work to make your company successful. If you hate the concept, don’t bother starting. You’ll waste your own time and burn out quickly.

Be realistic

Just because you know you can make something work, you shouldn’t expect it to happen overnight. Sometimes companies take years to become fully solvent. Know that it will take a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of hard work to make your business take off. Once it does, you’ll have relatively smooth sailing, but it’s not instant.

Get out there and do it

Don’t just talk about it. All the talk in the world won’t help you succeed; you’ve gotta work to bring it into existence – whatever “it” is. A book wasn’t ever written by talking about finding time to sit down and write a book, it was written because someone actually did sit down and write the book. Businesses are the same way. You can talk the talk all day long, but until you take that first, second, and third step, it makes no difference. Get to work!

Always treat what you do as a business

It doesn’t matter what your product or service is; once you decide to start offering it to others, for money, you must always treat it as a business, for that’s what it is. It’s your new source of income. Don’t blow it because you used to just do “it” for fun. If an individual decides to start making prints and selling them on Etsy because all their friends wanted one, once that first order comes in, you get it done, get it shipped and move on to the next one. It’s fun, sure, but it is work too, and it needs to be treated as such. Make a home office if you’re working from home. Use it for only work related stuff. That will become your new place of business, going to that room or area as opposed to leaving for an office. It will put you in the right mindset and ensure that you are able to successfully dedicate your time to what you do. (For example, I used to love MMORPGs, but my computer is my work area, so I’ve gone back to console gaming, ensuring that I’m not distracted from work by anything other than the occasional website, academic journal, or the biggest time killer of all – Facebook.
By working to avoid these mistakes, you can work to make your business a success. Just remember, there are thousands of people online who can tell you what not to do, but only you can find out the winning combination that works best for you!

Image Source: Bullas, J. (2012). Oops!. [image online] Available at: http://www.jeffbullas.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Personal-Branding-LinkedIn-10-Mistakes-to-Avoid.jpg [Accessed: 27 Mar 2014].

One thought on “Four Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Business

  1. I would add, pick a reliable hosting service. For the curious, go check the hostgator facebook and hostgator support twitter feeds. There you can see what not to expect from a service provider.

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