Starting your own business is very hard. And making some mistakes is inevitable for most new entrepreneurs.
The trick for new business survival is to minimize the very costly mistakes.
Here is a list of some of my startup mistakes I’ve made. You may want to avoid some of these to help you “keep the train on the tracks.” And avoid the startup graveyard.
1. Market and Sell-24/7
This will help minimize the entrepreneur ups and downs, which will be many. The more potential customers/clients you can find and sign up, the more money you will make. And more importantly, the more bills you can pay.
Some of the best advice I got early on was this; you have to market and sell everyday, otherwise you will fail. Remember, nothing else in business matters except customers, paying customers. Not the best mousetrap, not the best technology, not the smartest guys in the room, not intellectual property, only customers.
Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was right on; “Sales cures everything.” Jerry Mitchell, President and CEO of Jerry R. Mitchell and Associates, Inc; and President of The Midwest Entrepreneurs Forum, said; “Neil, this piece is a must read for every one thinking about starting their own business venture who thinks sales is a dirty word.”
2. Have a Sense of Urgency-24/7
This is one of my biggest, hardest lessons learned early on. After I got fired from the corporate world, I had a nice severance package, insurance to fall back on. I think you know where this story is going. I kind of cruised along during the first two years of The Courage Group.
I did not have a sense of urgency until the bills were starting to go unpaid, creditors were calling, and the electricity and phone were being turned off.
You have to understand that many people are afraid to take the leap, and will talk others out of taking that leap as well in order to make themselves feel better about their fears.
The experts were right; it will take you twice as long as you think it will to turn the corner. Treat every day and every dime like it is your last, right at day one of opening your doors.
3. Hunker Down-24/7
During the down times, which will be many, you really have only one choice, hunker down. You can’t allow panic to set in. This will only lead to inaction. And inaction can lead to business failure.
My dad was right; A hungry dog hunts better.” When I was on the ropes, (many times) I hunkered down, got even more focused and always seem to pull another sale out of the hat.
Try this, when you hit a down time, try listening to Beethoven’s music. This worked for me. Listening to his music helped clear my head, helped me come up with solutions to a problem.
Beethoven, despite being totally deaf, composed some of the world’s most optimistic music. In business, optimism rules. You have only one way to go and that’s up.
4. Take Nothing For Granted- 24/7
This is one that causes many quick, incredible highs. And at the same time, causes many quick, incredible lows.
Never take a potential sale for granted. When a potential customer or client says; “Let’s do the deal.” Don’t get overly excited right away. Don’t go out on a spending spree, start immediately paying bills, thinking that the check will soon be forthcoming.
Get excited only after you receive the check. The moral of the story here; when you hear yes, start smiling and immediately go out looking for your next sale.
Starting and building a company from scratch takes a lot of energy.
Entrepreneurs need to build some form of exercise, no matter how small every day. This is especially helpful when facing a problem. Some of my best solutions to problems came during short jogs around the neighborhood.
John Lennon was right; “There are no problems, only solutions.”
Little things help as well. On your next visit to a coffee shop or restaurant, lose the drive up. Get out of the car and go in.
Not only will you get some exercise, it may bring in some new business. I have had many new sales result by going inside and visiting, networking with the employees inside.
6. Stay Away From Negative People-24/7
Time is precious for new entrepreneurs. Don’t be around people who are negative and will try to bring you down.
You still need to stay positive and optimistic. People can be negative simply because, deep down, they are jealous that you had the courage to follow your own dream, not just talk about it.
Said Jim Evanger, PE Interim CEO & Operating Partner; “This is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t pursue their dream of business ownership…they get talked out of it. You have to understand that many people are afraid to take the leap, and will talk others out of taking that leap as well in order to make themselves feel better about their fears.”
7. Have A Daily Business Plan- 24/7
In business, you have to know what you are doing and then do it.
Having and executing on your daily business plan will be your roadmap to success. It will force you to understand what you are doing that day and why you are doing it.
Time is very precious for entrepreneurs. Most entrepreneurs are the chief, cook and bottle washers of the company, in most cases.
Don’t listen to others who say having a business plan is unimportant. They are. If you plan is to survive, grow your business and plan on never going back to work for someone else ever again. Plus, your business plan should be work in motion.
8. Visualize Success-24/7
Entrepreneurs need to visualize success at all times, not failure.
Your mind needs to know that although there will be many ups and downs, a light does exist at the end of the tunnel, and it is bright.
By visualizing success, your actions will become more confident. And increased confidence breeds success.
Remember, customers or clients prefer to do business with people who are confident; knowing that buying their services and products will indeed help them.
9.Remember The Alternative-24/7
You need to keep telling your mind, especially during the down times, why you are doing this in the first place.
Remember, you are trying to create a better future for you and your family.
Just visualizing yourself at the mercy of others controlling your life, playing corporate politics, reporting to incompetent bosses should be sufficient motivation to keep your mind right.
10. See # 1 Again!-24/7
I think these comments are right on; especially like the emphasis regarding the importance if you’ve never been in business before and the value gained from pre-planning before executing………….!!!! Can’t stress this enough! Well done Neil!
Hi Neil, saw this article, loved it. Reminded me of the time I was thinking about starting my new venture. All the time I spent sitting in Borders and B & N reading magazines and books, researching online to understand the market for a brand new idea back then, paid off. The business plan also helped me focus on a specific service as compared to many services all at the same time, which would have been a disaster. The plan gave me a foundation with all the baby steps I was going to have to take in order to achieve the big picture.