The decision to launch a business is both scary and exciting. Most budding entrepreneurs have dreams of spending all of their time doing the work they love while achieving wealth beyond their dreams.
However, new entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants can become overwhelmed by the complexity of running their own businesses. They realize that being the boss means every aspect of the business is their responsibility. All of sudden, they need to juggle marketing, selling, and much more. However, they can attract clients and establish a lucrative income if they remain focused on the right things to achieve their successful breakthrough.
As a new entrepreneur, your success requires the constant monitoring of what is working and what isn’t working. This also means that you will need to make modifications to your business strategy until you find your sweet spot. Your success is contingent upon following the right path, which often includes changing your original business plan.
So, to help you focus on the right things, we reached to 37 successful business experts that specialize in business growth, consulting, coaching, SEO, digital marketing, and sales. We asked them to share:
What is your #1 tip for a common mistake made by new entrepreneurs?
We received some great insights that you can read in the post below.
Mark Fidelman – Fanatics Media
Mark Fidelman is the CEO for Fanatics Media, a Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency with a focus on B2B and B2C Influencer marketing. He writes the Socialized and Mobilized Columnist on Forbes and is the author of the book SOCIALIZED!“Not studying their target markets enough to understand their blue ocean opportunities.”Click To Tweet
Instead of competing with other companies, the Blue Ocean Strategy focuses your efforts on creating a new marketplace where you can dominate rather competing with others. A quick example is the difference between Cirque du Soleil and other circuses. Cirque du Soleil burst into the circus industry with a unique circus experience and created a new market rather than copy existing circus platforms.
Jeffrey Hayzlett is a well-traveled public speaker, the author of two bestselling business books. He is a global business celebrity, speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders.
Listening to your own story rather than validating the idea. We all come up with the way we think it will be, the solution or product that everyone will rush to buy or pay you a gazillion for rather than making sure it will.You must turn the theoretical into reality by getting someone to buy it. And then get more to buy a lot.Click To Tweet
That’s success, the other is still just an idea or a dream. When you have people who give you real cash, its real. The other is something that only your mom loves. And remember, your mother loves anything you do, even if it’s stupid.
Michael Zipursky – Consulting Success
Michael Zipursky is the CEO of ConsultingSuccess.com and Coach to Elite Consultants. His Accelerator Coaching Program has helped consultants attract more clients and create sustainable and profitable consulting businesses.It's critical that consultants get clarity on who their ideal client really is.Click To Tweet
When you have ideal client clarity you will know who to target and be able to develop a message that really resonates with them.
If you go too broad with your ideal client criteria you’ll have a hard time targeting buyers and your message has less chance to really get the attention and interest of buyers. Because having a message that resonates with your ideal client is the first step in creating a conversation with them, it’s important to work through an ideal client discovery process.
This includes looking at your area of expertise and interest, market potential, and need, location, industry, job title, and many other criteria. Knowing these will provide clarity to identify ideal clients, a direct way to target and deliver a message that resonates with them.
Minuca is a freelance writer specialized in creating expert roundups. Her posts provide quality content, bring huge traffic and get backlinks. She also helps bloggers connect with influencers.
New entrepreneurs make many mistakes and I was no exception. One of my mistakes was telling friends and relatives how much I earn. That is not wise. If you are not earning well they will discourage you and advise you to get a job and have a “safe” life as an employee.
If you are earning good money, people can become envious and ask you repeatedly for loans. These are your hard worked money. Don’t believe anyone that says you were lucky. If luck would be enough everyone would be rich. Also, don’t discuss business with people that earn less than you, even if they work in the same field as you.
Often times, people think they know everything they need to have a profitable business but they don’t have enough time or the right connections or money to do it. The excuses they give really don’t matter. Only results count.
Neil Patel helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP, and Viacom grow their revenue. He is an investor & influencer. Columnist for Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, & more. His specialties include Search Engine Optimization, Internet Marketing, Conversion Optimization, Growth Hacking“They don't learn from their mistakes. Click To Tweet
You are going to make them, which is fine, but if you don’t continually learn from them and avoid making the same ones over and over again, you won’t do well.”
Nils Salzgeber – NJlifehacks
Nils is a lifestyle coach and co-founder of njlifehacks.com, a blog dedicated to helping people live a better life through relentless self-improvement. He’s on his journey to become the greatest version of himself and loves sharing what he learns along the way.
One of the big mistakes many of us are making, in the beginning, is trying to grow too big too fast. Instead of trying to blow something up as big as possible, we should just focus on building something meaningful and valuable.
It’s much smarter to build a small but sustainable business, instead of trying to make as much money as possible. Before you know it you’ve built that huge business and find yourself trapped in something you didn’t want in the first place.
Better to go slow, steady, and purposefully. Bigger is not better.The ultimate currency of life is happiness and freedom, NOT money or approval.Click To Tweet
Dexter Tarbox – SocianSelect
D. Dexter Tarbox is the CEO of SocianSelect, one of the leading providers of Social Influencer Marketing for independent brands across the world.Failing to adequately incorporate adaptivity into the business model isClick To Tweet
This is in my judgment one of the biggest mistakes that a first-time entrepreneur can make. Especially when faced with the ultra fast-paced dynamics of the digital space, it is fundamentally important that all new companies embrace adaptivity at all levels of their business (and act quickly in doing it).
Lindsay Anvik – See Endless
Lindsay Anvik is a business coach and international keynote speaker. Her seminars and consulting have been praised by major museums, Fortune 500 companies and small mom and pop business owners. Her company, See Endless, consults with businesses by playing the role of both coach and cheerleader.
I think the biggest mistake that business people make is being excuse oriented instead of solution oriented. Click To TweetWe get set in our ways, we get comfortable with doing something a certain way even if it isn’t working for us and continue to do it. The fear of doing something new is either too scary, too much work or will cause us to have to sacrifice something in order to make it happen. Enter excuses. Excuses provide the perfect out for why you can’t make something happen. And excuses can range from everything from something in your control (I don’t have time) to things out of your control (the weather was bad so business was bad). Being solution oriented means consistently and continually finding ways to fix the ways in which you or your business aren’t performing optimally.
We get set in our ways, we get comfortable with doing something a certain way even if it isn’t working for us and continue to do it. The fear of doing something new is either too scary, too much work or will cause us to have to sacrifice something in order to make it happen. Enter excuses. Excuses provide the perfect out for why you can’t make something happen. And excuses can range from everything from something in your control (I don’t have time) to things out of your control (the weather was bad so business was bad). Being solution oriented means consistently and continually finding ways to fix the ways in which you or your business aren’t performing optimally.
Chris Voss – The Chris Voss Show
Chris Voss is a successful entrepreneur for Multi-Million Dollar Companies. In addition to writing a blog, Chris is the Social Media Marketing Expert other “experts’ call for help.Locking into their original business plan and sticking with it till they go broke, never adjusting it to succeed.Click To Tweet
Adèle is a Small Business Growth and Peak Performance Consultant/Mentor for over 25 years. She founded Small Business Huge Success™ – a collaborative online learning platform that supports small business success around the world.
The biggest issue I see is experts, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants not focusing on building their personal brand so that it’s clear what they do, for whom they do it, and why they do it.People connect with people they resonate with and trust, so building a personal brand is VERY important.Click To Tweet
Tsavo Neal – Tsavo Neal Consulting
Tsavo help coaches and consultants get more clients through their website. His goal is to help businesses turn their websites into a perfect marketer and help them scale their marketing, making it more effective and less time-consuming.
The most common mistake I see coaches and consultants make is in their positioning — they try to serve everybody.As a coach or consultant, you're an entrepreneurial expert. You make your living from selling your expertise. Click To Tweet
And you can’t stand out from your competitors unless your expertise is specialized.
It seems counter-intuitive to choose a specific industry to serve and make it public (through your website, LinkedIn page, etc). But, doing so makes it much easier for you create a list of your potential clients and get through to them.
My #1 tip is to choose a specific industry to serve, make it public, and stick to it for at least two years. You will be surprised at how much easier it is to get through to your potential clients (and how much more often they come to you) when you consistently name their industry in your marketing communications.
Marc Spindel – Pixeo SEO Consulting
Marc has been doing Digital Marketing for 6 years in various capacities including overseas agencies in Vietnam, B2B in China and Vietnam, Lead Generation in the local Florida markets and Brand development for every project along the way.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the shiny-object syndrome. No product will solve your barriers to entry in the way it’s presented to you.Find your own path by reaching out to those who are successful and not trying to sell you a new tool or method.Click To TweetTalking about yourself endlessly as if your personal experience is the anecdote of salvation for your clients.
Talking about yourself endlessly as if your personal experience is the anecdote of salvation for your clients.
Ann Smarty – SEO Smarty
Ann Smarty is the brand NINJA at Internet Marketing Ninjas as well as the founder of numerous startups including MyBlogGuest, MyBlogU, ViralContentBee, TwChat, and others. Ann Smarty has been an online marketing consultant for 10 years providing high-quality digital marketing consulting through her services and courses.
Not believing enough in yourself. I've been there and remember all too well how intimidated I was. Click To TweetI wouldn’t take on paying clients because I was too afraid that I was not going to provide any value to them.
I wouldn’t take on paying clients because I was too afraid that I was not going to provide any value to them.
Yes, it helps to constantly educate yourself and never stop learning but at some point, you need to stop and evaluate your strengths. Sooner or later you’ll have to go from learning to be an entrepreneur to becoming one and the best approach to act as soon as you can.
Don’t wait until you have the time or until you are a better expert, start now and you’ll learn how to overcome those challenges when you are here.
Dmitri Kara – Fantastic Services
Dmitri Kara is a digital enthusiast: video, motion and static graphic designer, online marketing specialist, DJ / Audio and passionate IKEA Lover.
Prior to launching a new product on the market, some entrepreneurs, especially the young and inexperienced ones, often neglect the importance of creating and sticking to a solid business plan. In order to succeed, it is imperative that they set realistic and attainable goals, both short- and long-term. A typical business plan is both detailed and short in length, and consists of:
- A well defined Mission
- Clear Objectives
- Well-thought Strategies
- Clever Sales
- Efficient Marketing
- Sturdy Finance Management
Think twice! Reevaluate, rethink, evaluate and act! Saying “NO” is not always a bad thing.Choose your battles wisely and most importantly - never stop.Click To Tweet
Christine Perakis – Business Break Through Pro
Christine created one of the most robust teams of business coaches in the world. She is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer; sharing the “Roadmap to Small Business Success” to audiences to kickstart their business growth goals; professional navigation for small business owners to achieve results faster and more efficiently than if they are on their own.Most entrepreneurs, small business owners, and service providers fail to think strategically when it comes to marketing.Click To Tweet
Most people are tactical with their marketing – throwing a bunch of marketing tactics against the wall, hoping something will stick, rather than going about marketing their businesses strategically to yield the greatest results – giving their target audience exactly what They want.
Greg DiVilbiss – Accendo Marketing
Greg DiVilbiss is the founder of Accendo (ah-chen-doe) Marketing, meaning he has been in sales and marketing for 35 years. Twenty of those years he has been a partner in a commercial real estate development company focusing on retail and office properties.
“Focusing on the plans rather than taking action. Many entrepreneurs will get mired in details that do little to move a business forward. Always trying to get everything perfect.Try taking action first, if it does not go as plan adjust accordingly and just move forward.Click To Tweet
Andrew McCauley – The Social Media Bloke
Andrew is an Amazon best Selling Author and consults all types of businesses on their Social Media and Online Strategy. Having been a speaker at over 300 live events, his passion for making the Online world more understandable shines through in all of his presentations.
The #1 tip that MOST coaches/consultants/entrepreneurs make is that they think everything has to be perfect before they start their business… their website has to be perfect, their business cards, their logos etc… too much worry about incidental stuff and not enough energy focusing on the main task at hand…attracting clients.My favorite saying is version 1 is better than version none.Click To Tweet
Robert Lord – PARMA Recordings
There are two important points I’ve learned in my decades in the music business and as an entrepreneur:
1. Fail Faster
2. Next Play
On the first, it is vital to fail as quickly as possible, in as many ways as possible, and in as controlled a way as possible. Never take a risk that could totally destroy the operation before it begins, but if you aren’t failing then you aren’t trying.The more you fail, the quicker you find out what DOESN'T work, the better.Click To Tweet
Too many people focus on what they should do as opposed to what they shouldn’t do. It is my belief that the latter is vastly more important than the former.
On the second point, it is crucial to not linger on these failures. Keep pushing, and think about the next play. Great, so your QB got sacked for an 8-yard loss, but you’ve got 3 more downs to go, and even then you can think about field positioning, clock management, etc. Nothing in business or art is a one or a zero, there is no black and white, it is all shades of grey – which indicate relative probabilities.
Nobody can predict the future, but probabilities dictate certain actions. The bigger the data sample, the easier it is to understand the landscape of potential actions.
If you fail quickly and then move on quickly, what appears to be business precognition or good luck is simply a matter of statistics and sample size. Numbers don’t lie.
Then and only then should the artist begin to work their magic!
Elinor Stutz – Smooth Sale
Elinor was a top producer at every company she ever worked all the while ignoring attempts to get her to quit. Stutz is a motivational/inspirational speaker, author and sales trainer.Eliminate the assumption that everyone needs your service.Click To Tweet
Instead, inquire of the other person how they are doing, and if they have a business question you might answer, what might it be? From there, the conversation develops with greater understanding and perspective for a more robust and tailored solution.
Carthage Buckley – Coaching Positive Performance
Carthage is a Stress and Performance coach who has lived and worked in 5 countries while collaborating with clients across the globe to help them be more productive, achieve greater goals, develop lasting confidence and communicate effectively; in both their personal and working lives.
Not being focused enough. When you are focused on what is really important, you eliminate a great deal of the tasks and projects which do not add any real value to your work.When you are focused, you save time, energy and money while having more of each to use on your most important work. Click To Tweet
You then achieve better results; faster.
Dennis Brown – Ask Dennis Brown
Dennis is a 20+ years entrepreneur that has built 3 multi-million dollar companies. Now, he is a LinkedIn marketing and social selling consultant who helps coaches, consultants and B2B sales teams to increase revenue via social without spending a dime on advertising!
Failing to invest enough time researching product-market fitClick To TweetEvery entrepreneur falls in love with their idea. It’s like their baby and the key is to talk to enough of your target market so people can tell you that your baby is ugly. This allows you save time and money by refining your plan before you launch.
Every entrepreneur falls in love with their idea. It’s like their baby and the key is to talk to enough of your target market so people can tell you that your baby is ugly. This allows you save time and money by refining your plan before you launch.
Monica Eaton-Cardone – Chargebacks911
Monica Eaton-Cardone is an international entrepreneur, speaker, author, and industry thought leader. She has extensive experience developing agile technologies and creating payment processing solutions. Monica is the co-founder and COO of Chargebacks911. This global risk mitigation firm helps online merchants optimize chargeback management through offices in North America, Europe, and Asia.The single most common mistake I see in first-time entrepreneurs is following the PLAN at the expense of the GOAL.Click To Tweet
Don’t get me wrong: having a strategic outline is key to your success … but the Plan itself is only a tool used to reach your Goal.
You can’t afford to fall in love with a plan. Circumstances change … and if your Plan isn’t getting you closer to your Goal, it needs to be adapted.
Yvonne Heimann – Ask Yvi
Yvi serves as CEO of Pacific Crest Media, which specializes in website design, marketing, and public relations, and continues to operate Ask Yvi as owner, consultant, and business mentor.
Leaving my safety net behind when leaving Germany and immigrating to the States, I knew I had to find my own way to build a retirement account.
When my husband got diagnosed with cancer and later passed away, the importance of residual and passive income became even more predominant.Starting out in our business, we often focus on only one month at a time.Click To Tweet
Make sure to set aside and schedule the time to develop multiple ways of earning income that you only have to maintain with minimal effort or none at all. Life often strikes faster than you think.
Develop monthly maintenance packages, offer ongoing support for a flat fee, and build sellable workbooks, courses or products.
Kate Sullivan – TCK Publishing
Kate Sullivan is the managing editor of TCK Publishing, an independent press specializing in books on entrepreneurship, self-help, and other popular nonfiction topics (in addition to her fiction line!). She also is a coaching psychologist, and she frequently works with her clients to help them make the most of their personal and professional lives.The #1 mistake that new coaches and consultants make is trying to solve their clients' problems.Click To Tweet
We get into this field because we want to help, and so it’s natural that we would try to offer solutions. In many cases, that’s even what the client thinks they want – a solution to a problem! But the real value of a coach or consultant isn’t in a quick fix – it’s in helping the client figure out why the problem exists in the first place, develop a strategy for identifying and addressing problems, and creating a system for working through future issues.
In the process of all this, you help the client figure out how to solve their problem on their own – and how to deal with future issues more smoothly and efficiently!
There are many different techniques that coaches and consultants can use depending on their client’s unique needs, but all of the most effective coaching relationships focus more on helping the client to recognize and handle problems on their own rather than handing them a neatly packaged solution that might only work once. You want to provide a toolbox, not a band-aid.
One technique that works really well for a lot of folks is process excellence.
Amir Atighehchi – Habit Nest
Amir graduated college and jumped straight into running three startups by growing into a creative mastermindNetworking should never be approached as a one-way street.Click To Tweet
If you’re trying to work up the ladder and meet people in your field the first and only thing you should start doing is providing value.
I repeat, provide real and useful value. You need to come across very genuine (and you should be genuine), but instead of looking for a short-term gain (i.e. have them shout out your product their massive email newsletter), you should look at the value of knowing people like them and what that could mean in the next 3-5 years.
Everyone wants overnight benefits, and relationship building isn’t a one-night-stand. Make positive gestures, and make them often.
I, personally, keep a spreadsheet of the ones I really want to connect with because I admire their work and set a reminder to touch base every 4-6 weeks. I’m always trying to think “who do I know, or what do I know that would benefit them”. Intro emails are gold!!
Pooja Krishna – Maroon Oak
Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur & Business Mentor. An MBA with 23+ years of business experience, she’s a co-founder at Maroon Oak, a Free, Digital Career Platform for Women and a Founder at Win Thinks Consulting, where she speaks and writes about strategy, brand building and future-ready career solutions (Recent Articles). As a Classroom Mentor, she also teaches students across the U.S. about Job Skills and Entrepreneurship.My tip: Widen your range of functional skills & expertise!Click To Tweet
Most entrepreneurs and coaches/ consultants have an in-depth understanding of their core work, but ignorance in other areas often costs them big.
I’ve worked with social media consultants who didn’t have even the basic knowledge of SEO. The result – not only were their client recommendations sub par, they also lost business when existing clients were ramping up their SEO. There are small businesses running e-commerce portals but are completely dependent on their tech provider for the smallest updates. A fitness studio owner who hires short-term and seasonally, struggled with reliable instructors (and hence erratic customer volume) till she learnt better hiring and retention techniques.
A little of everything. Even at the Start.
Sure, most people pick up skills as they go along. The trick is to do so right off the bat! I recommend learning about some of the support functions early on, as a part of your business plan. You can choose formal courses or go through the vast resources available online and free. It’s not that hard even if you’re a tech or design novice.
Learning entrepreneurs build leaner ventures
In the long run, this will lower the unnecessary overhead of hiring (instead of in-house) for every small job. Plus, you will save yourself the opportunity cost of riding that particular learning curve.
A smart way of doing this is to ask yourself – What do I know about this? – for every function that you laid down in your business plan and not just your main one!
E.g. if you run a food business with a marketing plan focused on Pinterest, you should learn a little about it. Similarly, the basics of bookkeeping – find out the DIY work you can do before you hand the returns to a to a pro. What are the smart ways and places to hire for your type of business.
For consultants and coaches, having a ‘mile wide’ insight on related functional areas will make them so much more effective, not to mention appear very knowledgeable to clients and prospects.
John Jonas – Online Jobs
John is the founder of OnlineJobs.ph, a site that connects Filipino workers with people that need to find a VA with internet marketing skills at an affordable price.
I think a common mistake that most 1st entrepreneurs make is thinking that they can and should do everything themselves. It’s a point of pride for them to do everything. It shows that they’re hardworking or they’re hustling.But the thing is if you do everything yourself, you're actually wasting time.Click To Tweet
If you do even the most menial of tasks yourself, you’re losing valuable time and you’re costing your business money.
Focus on doing things that provide VALUE for your business. Delegate and outsource stuff that you hate. If you do the math, you’ll see that it’ll be better for your business in the long run.
Kean Graham – MonetizeMore
Kean Graham is the CEO of MonetizeMore, a leading ad tech firm that is a Google Certified Partner.
When I started the business it was challenging and exciting. We were able to break even by month five. Our first client was the employer that laid me off. I offered them a percentage of the ad revenue increase and was able to make them additional millions.The biggest lesson I learned is to not communicate the company in terms of 'where we are', but 'where we're going'.Click To Tweet
If I were to do it again, I would have communicated my company as larger than just me so they looked at my company as a company rather than a previous employee. Then I would have been able to avoid issues with earning “too much commission”. I wasn’t alone with this mistake. Many first time entrepreneurs make the same mistake.
Meiyoko is a best-selling author, entrepreneur and Personal Development Coach. Due to his expertise in leadership and emotional mastery, he works with CEO s, executives, celebrities, industry leaders & entrepreneurs guiding them toward self-improvement.One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants make is they try to market to everybodyClick To Tweet
When you first start your business venture it’s so exciting and you want everyone to value from your services. I get it. However, the entire population on earth is not your ideal client. This unfocused approach will lead to frustration and burn out very quickly.
The #1 tip in turning this common issue around is to focus on one specific problem that is currently impacting a lot of people. Find the solution to this problem and master your methods for solving it. This will add value to your marketplace and will set you apart as the expert in this particular area. Now you will have a benchmark to build your business around and a great opportunity to consistently grow your brand as well as a consistent flow of clients.
Marc Prosser – Fit Small Business
Marc Prosser is the co-founder of FitSmallBusiness.com (NYC-based digital magazine with 45 employees). He has been involved in many businesses as an executive, advisor, and investor. Prior to starting his own company, Marc Prosser was the first employee and Chief Marketing Officer of FXCM. During his ten years at FXCM, the company grew from a small business to over 700 employees.
Don’t be afraid to decide that you don’t want to be an entrepreneur, coach or consultant! I was the first employees and Chief Marketing Office for a company which went public on the New York Stock Exchange.
After I left the company, my services were very much in demand as a consultant. I spent a year doing consulting for several companies and I hated it! After three months, I should have changed direction because I am temperamentally unsuited to be a consultant.As a consultant, I had very little control over what happened with my work ideas.Click To Tweet
I would spend weeks or months researching and planning a new business line, only to be told the company had changed priorities. Also, there were lots of politics involved with consulting.
I am much better suited to being an entrepreneur. In 2013, I co-founded FitSmallBusiness.com which has grown into being a 45 person company. I love the control and the ability to see the fruits of my efforts which comes from being an entrepreneur.
Vasco Patricio – The Rewired Founder
Vasco Patricio is a 2x startup co-founder and multiple-time startup employee. Also past Intel Lead for the MIT-Portugal startup accelerator.
I would have to say the number one tip is authenticity. You have to be divisive, you have to stand for something and you have to be willing to politely disagree with others. Sure, most visionaries like Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos impose their will on everyone even when causing massive conflict. But most founders aren’t like that.
Most startup founders (or entrepreneurs in general) are usually stuck between product problems and the wills of different employees and stakeholders – so many times they agree with them and compromise on things that they shouldn’t, which leads to inferior product quality or moving slower and kills the startup.
For a startup to succeed, it must be a coordinated effort. Everyone must be on board with the founders. But for that, ironically, there must be conflict.Ideas have to be discussed and torn down until we get to common ground and agree. Click To Tweet
If the conflict is avoided it results in people doing things against their will or holding back or feeling resentment, which leads to a division between the ranks and a nasty fallout afterward.
Paige Arnof-Fenn – Mavens & Moguls
Mavens & Moguls was founded by Paige Arnof-Fenn. Paige was formerly VP of marketing at Zipcar. She was responsible for all branding, corporate communications and corporate partnerships for the business and was instrumental in the fundraising efforts for this early stage company.
I started a global branding and marketing firm 16 years ago and I learned that the people you start with are not always the ones who grow with you.The hardest lesson when I started my company was not getting rid of weak people earlier than I did in the first few years of my business.Click To Tweet
I spent more time managing them than finding new customers.
I knew in my gut they were not up to snuff but out of loyalty to them I let them hang around much longer than they should have. It would have been better for everyone to let them go as soon as the signs were there. They became more insecure and threatened as we grew which was not productive for the team. As soon as I let them go the culture got stronger and the bar higher. “A” team people like to be surrounded by other stars.
It is true that you should hire slowly and fire quickly. I did not make that mistake again later on so learned it well the first time. I wish I had known it even earlier though but lesson learned for sure!
I retired as a consultant from the Chicago office of the McGladrey accounting firm in 2006. Upon my retirement from McGladrey, I reinvented myself by starting my own firm in Chicago, which is now devoted to helping veterans who want to start their own business. I am a former U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lieutenant, who fought in the Vietnam War. I was the creator of the concept for an incubator in Chicago for veterans who want to start their own businesses, called The Bunker, which has been recently rebranded as Bunker Labs.
In November of 2013, I moved my headquarters to Durham, NC, but maintain an office in Chicago, also. I am working with an organization, called Entredot, to start a support program for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs in North Carolina, called VetStart, which has recently been rebranded as Bunker RDU. I have been in the professional services business for most of my working life, but have never worked with veterans before this.
But, my business didn’t start out with the idea of helping veterans. I started out thinking that I was going to provide project management and business development services to companies in the service industry. But, that didn’t work out. I had to “pivot” several times before I found a niche that worked. THAT WAS MY BIGGEST SETBACK.
My big break and big pivot point, was when one of my clients, Crain’s Chicago Business, our regional business publication in Chicago, asked me to do some research in 2011 on companies in Chicago that were hiring veterans. I spent a considerable amount of time on this assignment, much more than was necessary or what I got paid for, and learned what I could about businesses in Chicago, and around the nation, who were hiring veterans, and the support programs for veterans wanting to enter the workforce upon leaving their military service. All of this research led to a very successful section in the publication around Veterans Day in 2011, called “Veterans in the Workplace” (http://www.dillonconsult.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Crains-Veterans-in-the-Workplace-Focus-Section.pdf).
And, things just took off from there…
That one assignment launched my second career in assisting aspiring veterans who want to start their own businesses.
HERE IS WHAT I LEARNED FROM THAT CHALLENGE AND MY NO.1 TIP FOR ENTREPRENEURS: Be flexible!Find an area or industry that is underserved where you can add value…then go for it! Don’t take no for an answer. Click To TweetIf you meet with rejection, get up, brush yourself off, and try again. There is always more that one way to skin the proverbial cat.
If you meet with rejection, get up, brush yourself off, and try again. There is always more that one way to skin the proverbial cat.
Adam Honig – Spiro Technologies
Adam Honig serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Innoveer Solutions, Inc. Adam Honig is responsible for the Innoveer Solutions, Inc.’s overall vision and strategic direction, and for guiding operations toward increased market share.
I’ve started four companies and been involved in helping quite a few others start companies.I find the biggest mistake the new entrepreneurs is underestimating how long it takes to build a business. Click To Tweet
Perhaps it was watching the Social Network movie and seeing how fast Facebook grew, or reading stories in the press, but business success seems to happen overnight.
The truth is that the path to success is always trial and error, which means the best plans always change, and take longer. Perhaps your product idea isn’t quite right, or finding the best customers takes longer. Having started four companies, I can say even for experienced entrepreneurs it is almost impossible to hit upon the right approach right away.
John Waldmann – Homebase
John Waldmann, co-founder, and CEO of Homebase www.joinhomebase.com in San Francisco, which offers a free software and app that helps over 60,000 small and mid-sized businesses eliminate paperwork and improve managing their hourly employees.
One of my early mistakes was positioning myself as a small startup.
Before I had built a team or even any product, I began talking to local business owners about ways I could help them manage their employees. When I offered to help, I didn’t get any traction. It was just me, and business owners rightfully didn’t trust me to handle sensitive operations.
So, instead, I started projecting that “my company” was bigger than it was. I told a pizza restaurant on the “system” I had for sending text reminders to employees about when they were working.
In reality, the system was just me with a phone texting everyone. This gave me the confidence—and data—to start building Homebase.My marketing mistake was appearing small and new to prospective customers.Click To Tweet
Something to consider, and possibly avoid, when a tech CEO starts-up a new business.
Bryan Clayton – GreenPal
Bryan Clayton is the CEO of GreenPal which is best described as Uber for Lawn Care
My previous company was a landscape contracting firm but I grew to 125 employees and $8 million a year in annual revenue last year I sold the company to a national organization.
In addition to the basic liability and workers comp insurance, our company also pays for employment law liability insurance.
This covers your business in case you make mistakes around calculating overtime and wage and hour violations.
These laws are complex and you could be in total accord with them however unscrupulous attorneys will still sue your company to try to extort money from you and this insurance pays for those lawsuits and any judgments that should occur.
Unfortunately, this is just part of doing business if you’re going to have employees.
Now comes my personal nightmare
In 2009 my company was audited by the department of labor and they determined that our crew leader managers could not be paid a salary need to be paid as hourly wage employees.
This, in turn, kicked in additional overtime time charges that were due to 80 employees and long story short resulted in a $450,000 fine that my company had to pay.
If we had the proper insurance we would’ve been covered in this nightmare that almost killed our company. That is a mistake I will never get a business.Don't be Pennywise and dollar dumb. Get the proper insurance coverage is in place before you scale your company.Click To Tweet
Roman Jhur – HuntSmart
Roman Jhur is Founder and CEO of outstaffing/outsourcing company HuntSmart Inc.
Effective marketing is one of the main reasons for success. After one of my old projects, in which I invested a lot of money and six months of work, I finally understood that fully in practice. I was developing a closed businessmen portal which, in my opinion, would be transformed in a powerful international club of ambitious people who can help and support each other. I saw one such example, but I focused in the technical work mainly, I wanted to make it more technologically and more convenient, forgetting about marketing.
As a result, with problems, as it often happens, but the project started. So, it’s time to move forward, to attract people! And then the main problem arose – there were not so many key requests, banner advertising was not so developed as it is now, and was only suitable for selling Chinese cheap goods, it wasn’t effective with for a closed club where the main sale is a monthly paid subscription.
I underestimated the fact that people can pay for such virtual product only by trusting the founder, and a guy from whom I took the example was already a well-known media personality with a bunch of projects, he had an audience that trusted him. They wanted to be next to him because he shared his the most effective business practices on this closed online club. I was not so much known at that time. In fact, the guy used simple content marketing and used the period of rapid growth of social networks in order to gain a lot of fans.
People would follow popular personalities, and popular personalities would not agree to cooperate because there were no people. Unfortunately, the circle is closed.
In this example, we can learn that every business has a list of marketing tools that fit best. If you sell completely new technical equipment for business, you need to use content marketing and explain the usefulness of your development. If you resell Chinese clothing, you need to master the Pay Per Click tools such as Google Adwords.If you sell a virtual product, for example, your knowledge, you need to develop trust initially.Click To Tweet
Thank you so much to all the experts that contributed to this post. As you can see, making mistakes as a new entrepreneur is pretty common. Luckily, you can improve your chances of success by avoiding these pitfalls, focusing on attracting your ideal clients, and closing sales.
If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it on social media so we can help more new entrepreneurs avoid these beginners’ mistakes.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
This post was made by Tonya Gilson and Minuca Elena. Tonya is an experienced 6 -Figure Consultant that helps others reach the same level of success and make their dreams come true. You can learn more about Tonya’s coaching sessions and sign-up to receive a free offer. Minuca is a is a freelance writer specialized in creating expert roundups. You can find out more about her services on her site.