Mistakes are inevitable along the entrepreneurial journey. But most entrepreneurs can’t afford to repeat the same mistakes over and over.
In her new book, #KeepGoing: From 15-Year-Old Mom to Successful CEO and Entrepreneur, Mari Tautimes shares her arduous journey from teenage mom on welfare to entrepreneurial achievement. She has succeeded not only because of her grit, tenacity, and self-directed education but also because of her resourcefulness. And that acquired ability stemmed in part from learning from mistakes.
As Tony Robbins once said, “Success in life is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually the result of experience. Experience is usually the result of bad judgment.”
Here are some tips from Tautimes to help you use sound judgment and avoid the following common mistakes entrepreneurs make.
1. Being an entrepreneur versus having the entrepreneurial spirit
Sometimes people mistake having an entrepreneurial spirit for being an entrepreneur. People that have the spirit should absolutely work in entrepreneurial companies and might even make for good leaders or team members. But that doesn’t mean they should be starting their own businesses.
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It requires a daily mindset that includes leadership, vision, taking action, and having the ability to overcome barriers and adversity.
A true entrepreneur has to be self-motivated all the time, maintain passion for the enterprise, inspire others, and be grounded in the daily reality of hard work as well as having a dream.
2. Wearing too many hats
A big mistake many entrepreneurs make early on is trying to operate completely independently, without surrounding themselves with wise counsel and capable employees or vendors with the right skill sets.
“This is such an important skill to develop because the only way to elevate the business to reach the next level is for the founder to properly delegate,” Tautimes says. “But if they can’t trust that the person they’re delegating to can run with it, the entire business will be stuck with the founder doing too many things that are not their highest and best use.”
3. Complicating the business plan
Have you ever heard the saying, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time?” It takes time to really be crystal clear about where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.
Tautimes says, “Go with a simplified two-page business plan. The reason we advocate for a two-page plan instead of a 10-page plan is that complexity is the enemy of execution.”
Whether you have two pages or 10 pages, according to Tautimes, the most important thing is that you have a plan or you probably won’t have a business for long. Too many entrepreneurs want to make up a lot of it as they go along.
4. Hiring the wrong people
Bad hires in the early going can kill a business before it ever gets traction. First-time founders tend to hire people who are excited about their business idea, not those who have the skill to help bring that vision down to the ground and execute on it with discipline and accountability.
To improve hiring, Tautimes advises entrepreneurs to follow three steps:
- Create a detailed job description to attract talent that fits,
- ask questions in the interview process to learn how the candidate handles challenging situations; and
- analyze a candidate’s growth potential based on their skills, experience and personality.
5. Ineffective marketing
Your marketing must reach the right people. That entails having a detailed marketing strategy that encompasses the conversion of users into paying customers and keeping those customers happy enough that they help bring you more customers through referrals, online reviews, and word-of-mouth.
“Even if you spend years improving your product, your startup won’t take off if you don’t know how to market it properly, especially in the digital age,” Tautimes says. “Learn how to write compelling content, feature your products in videos, and generate leads.”
Avoiding these mistakes can get your enterprise up to speed quicker and enable it to maintain momentum. And remember, if you do make one or more common mistakes in the beginning, it won’t end your business as long as you learn from them.