During my 20+ years of experience I have concluded that most business ventures fail not because it was a bad idea, but because it was a poorly implemented idea; or there were entrepreneurial mistakes that ended up driving the business into a downward spiral.
If you are a startup business, what will set you apart from the rest is having a plan then having the discipline to act on it. Mistakes are part of the growing process. However, it is not healthy for your business venture to be making the same mistakes over and over.
Mistakes are common in the business world. They also can make you a more cautious and wiser businessperson. Successful entrepreneurs are not those who never make mistakes. What makes them successful is that they learn from the mistakes. Repeated mistakes will become costly for your business venture regardless of the stage of your business.
“In the real world, the smartest people are people who make mistakes and learn. In school, the smartest people don’t make mistakes.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Here are the seven deadly sins of entrepreneurship you must avoid right now:
- Disorganization. It is cheaper to address disorganization than to address the consequences of disorganization. Disorganization creeps into our lives and does not want to leave. It starts with a few papers on our desks and later it becomes a pile. Later we accept the pile as being part of the décor. However, disorganization not only hurts your deadlines, projects, and leadership accountability, it will cost your business money in lost hours and missed business opportunities. Surveys have shown that disorganized employees who earn $50,000 a year can cost companies an estimated $11,000 a year in lost hours. Not good for your business! Whether it’s office and desk clutter or a flood of unorganized emails every day, lack of time management can hurt the entire company.
- Lack of delegation – I hear this one very often “I can do it myself”. However, most business owners do not have the legal, accounting and tax knowledge they need to stay out of trouble. Their strength is the development of their business, but they won’t invest in business planning or legal advice to properly set up their corporation. Some of them want to go the “cheap” way, so they purchase TurboTax and Quickbooks. Even if you have the understanding of accounting and tax, should you be doing your monthly accounting? Or should you focus on the growth of your company?
- Putting your customer last in your priority list. Most entrepreneurs launch their business focusing only on profits. While profits are important, a business without customers is dead and won’t generate profits. They main purpose of your business must be to make acquire and keep your customers. You keep your customers by getting to know them and their needs. You may have the most amazing product or service, but if it’s not in agreement with what your customers want, they’re not going to buy and you’re never going to make a profit.
- Failure to launch. Sometimes the fear of failure creeps in and prevents great ideas to materialize. Far too many business ideas fail due to a slow launch, which needs to be both stealthy and strategic to be successful. Don’t spend too much time building out your idea and features, trying to create the “perfect product/service”. Instead, build out your most valuable product, release it, and see how people react to it.
- No marketing. Many business ideas are brilliant, which may lead the entrepreneur-to-be to think that he/she does not need to spend time and money in marketing. This has been proven to be a costly mistake for many. Establishing a strong online marketing effort is something pretty much every company must do now. Today marketplace requires that you invest in consistent lead flow through online marketing (search engine optimization) and to build a great product and focus on making sure you build happy and loyal clients who refer your business to their friends.
- Lack of clear mission for your business. Do you, your customers and your staff have a clear vision of what your business stands for? Where is your business going? Why does your business exist? Establishing a clear mission for your company, based on the values that you believe in and refuse to compromise, is the equivalent to building a deep concrete foundation for building before you begin construction.
- No competitive advantage. What is your Unique Selling Proposition? To be successful you must develop and maintain a meaningful competitive advantage of some kind. What is it that your company does really well? Where do you perform at a high level? What is the area of excellence of your key products or services? What makes you/your product meaningful to your customers?
“If you don’t have competitive advantage, don’t compete!” – Jack Welch
Every company that gets into trouble is a company that has either lost its competitive advantage, relative to its competitors or a company that never had one at all.
This post is not exclusive to for-profit entities, even if you have a not-for-profit organization you can benefit from the tips offered here. Disorganization affects for-profit as well as not-for-profit by making them both inefficient and irrelevant to the customers and donors. Change the word marketing for fundraising, change the word customers for donors or program participants, and change the word product & service for programs and you will see that the tips offered here applies to your not-for-profit organization as well.
I prepared a special report that expands on this post and provides you with additional deadly mistakes that you must avoid right now if you want your business to succeed.