Subscribe to Making Money Magazine

UK Startup Business - Focus On Business Opportunites

Experts in helping new & seasoned entrepreneurs start new businesses since 1997

Start a Business

8 Common Start-Up Mistakes, And How To Avoid Them

Louise Ramsay highlights eight common start-up pitfalls and how to avoid them 8 Common Start-Up Mistakes, And How To Avoid Them

Every year people turn their dream of starting their own business into reality. Being your own boss often means learning from your mistakes. But some can be costly and result in start-ups failing before they have time to flourish.

Some of the most common pitfalls are detailed below. Ignore them at your peril:

No business plan

A business plan is essential to any start up, but all too often start-ups fail to get a proper one worked out. A good plan will include market research, short and long-term goals and a financial strategy.

If you don’t have a plan, you will be operating in the dark. That said, while your business plan needs to cover all the main bases, don’t spend too long agonising over it. If you do, it suggests you’ve forgotten your main aim, which is to get the business started.

The most successful people don’t just plan ahead, they’re also able to adapt, so once you have the basic framework of your business on paper, get going - and adapting.

Lack of goals

Goals are crucial in business. They establish what your aim is, help keep you on track and allow you to monitor your progress. They also motivate you and help to improve the performance of your business.

The more carefully you work out what your goals are, the more likely your business will succeed. Ideally, you need a mixture of long-terms goals (for instance, how much your turnover will be in five years) and short-term goals (win a certain number of new customers in the next four weeks).

You attain your goals through objectives, which are the steps you and your business need to take to reach your goals. A common mistake is to fail to review short-terms goals on a regular basis, meaning long-term goals are undermined.

Not charging what you’re worth

It’s quite typical when starting out to undervalue the products or services you’re offering.

A lack of confidence and experience can mean you don’t feel you’ve quite got what it takes to charge what you’re worth. While this might initially bring in more work, in the long term you might become frustrated and resentful when people expect you to keep charging the same rates.

It can take time to recover from initial low prices, so make sure you start off charging rates that reflect the best price entry point for what you’re selling.

Being afraid of marketing

Marketing is in itself a huge industry - people even do degrees in it. This can make it seem intimidating, but whether or not you have experience in it, you’re going to have to market your business - you can’t ever assume work will just come to you.

The best thing to do is break marketing ‘chores’ down into manageable chunks. Remember too that there are lots of different ways to raise your business profile and increase sales, from word of mouth to full on multimedia campaigns.

What’s best for you will depend on the kind of business you run and your target audience - so do your research first. It’s important too to identify your ideal customers and work out the best way to bring them to your door.

Often, businesses make the mistake of trying a little bit of everything on everyone - but finding your market and focusing on it will bring you the best results.

A lack of commitment

To be successful in business you need drive, dedication and commitment. You need to be happy to make sacrifices, put in the hours and be willing to meet challenges head on.

Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s being able to admit to them and turn them around that’s key to business success. As a business owner, the buck stops with you and no one else. Being this resilient can come as a shock to lots of start-ups - but you can learn.

Failing to delegate

It’s a classic start-up management problem. You want to do everything yourself rather than give up control and trust others to help with the workload. It’s an understandable instinct, but it will lead to failure.

To overcome your fears, start by drawing up a process document, which details the way you’d like things to be done. That way you’ll feel calmer and your employees have something to refer to when it comes to taking on the work.

Unless you’re a one-man band, you’ll always have to delegate, so get used to it.

Employing the wrong staff

‘Can’t get the staff’ is perhaps the most common complaint of any business. The problem is even more acute for start-ups, which often can’t pay salaries high enough to attract the right people, but need competent workers to function effectively.

The temptation can be to take on just about anyone to get things moving, but unless they’re right for you, you’ll end up having to let them go, which isn’t just painful for both parties, but also time consuming.

Try and get it right first time by asking around within your industry to see if anyone comes recommended - like anything, word of mouth is priceless. Make sure too that whoever you employ knows about you and your industry by asking them exactly what they know.

Spending too much

There’s a huge temptation when starting out to invest in the very best of everything. Cafe start-ups are a prime example - swanky lights, squishy settees and a state of the art bar.

But if your business fails to take off, this will have all been for nothing. The same goes for the likes of the best software or marketing campaign. There will always be less expensive, but equally viable options out there if you’re willing to do the work to find them.

It’s important you create a realistic budget and stick to it to ensure you don’t overspend. On the other hand, don’t scrimp. While there are certainly lots of ways to start and grow a business with limited funds, some capital investment will always be needed. You don’t want to limit your potential because you’re afraid to spend money. Read more like this

< Back