So you’ve formed an idea, labored over a business plan and decided, once and for all, that you’re invested in your new entrepreneurial enterprise. Now it’s time to execute. Unfortunately for most new businesses and business owners, there will be a lot of growing pains. The path to success will come with its fair share of obstacles. While many of these challenges are unavoidable, there are others that you can prepare for. As an aspiring entrepreneur, it is important to learn what mistakes you can avoid, and how to avoid them. Here are three common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when starting their new business and some quick tips on ensuring they won’t bog you down.
1. Setting Sights Too High
Not every new business venture is going to have the quick start that businesses like Facebook or YouTube enjoyed. When Youtube was sold to Google in 2006 for over $1 billion, it set a precedent of success that might be tough to match today. If you start your business with unrealistically high goals, it will make reaching them all the more difficult.
While goal-setting is an imperative step in starting a new business, setting smart and realistic goals is even more pivotal. When setting goals for a new business, try utilizing the SMART acronym that is commonly used in business today. Setting goals that are Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time-Bound can help you keep your eye on the prize without shooting too high. Shooting for the stars and missing can hurt both morale and company growth, which leads to the next mistake to avoid.
2. Giving Up Too Easily
So you’ve set your goals and when your time-bound (remember, SMART) deadline came around, you fell a little short. A common mistake to avoid at this point is giving up. If your company hasn’t been valued over the $1 billion mark within a year like YouTube was, there is no need to call it quits. In fact, some high-ranking executives, such as Jason Fried, founder of 37signals, believe that slow growth can be more beneficial to a company in the long run.
In an interview with Fast Company magazine, Fried said in part “I’m a fan of growing slowly, carefully, methodically, of not getting big just for the sake of getting big.” Not every business booms from the start. Recall that Apple, which now has a market value well over $500 billion, was on the verge of bankruptcy in the 90’s before reinventing itself and becoming what it is today. Had Apple’s executives given up, the history of technology and computing would be changed forever. Luckily for Mac users everywhere, they chose not to relent, bringing us to the third and final mistake to avoid in your young entrepreneurial career.
3. Being Afraid to Adjust
All things considered, failure seems at this point to be too easy of an option for entrepreneurs today. Adjustment–or the openness to the idea–can prevent failure before it occurs. Undoubtedly by this point you’ve invested quite a bit of time and money in your product or service and you want nothing more than to see it succeed.
While failure to meet predetermined goals can certainly be a precursor for a company’s demise, it can also signal the need for flexibility. New competition in the business world can cause the need to adjust prices, marketing strategies or the core focus of your enterprise. Refusal to adapt to the constantly-changing world around you can spell disaster for an emerging business.
PR In Your Pajamas cites three quick and easy keys to maintaining business flexibility: listen, really listen, and open your mind. By opening yourself and your business to the idea of adaptation, you can avoid the pitfalls of businesses like Blockbuster, who refused to acknowledge the streaming-video market. Very few things in the world right now are stagnant, so why should your business be one?