If it’s time for you to leave the world of employment and start a business, you’re probably both excited about the possibilities and terrified about the likelihood of failure. Fortunately, while starting a new business can be one hell of a rocky ride, there’s a lot you can do to make that ride smoother. To help, here are five mistakes to avoid when starting a business.
Not doing enough market research
It’s easy to get so excited about an idea that you forget to run it past your ideal audience. However, failing to make sure that there is a market for whatever you are selling BEFORE you launch your business will make life difficult for you in the long run.
It’s infinitely easier to sell bread to the hungry than an umbrella in the Sahara dessert, so do your research and check that people want your product or service! We highly recommend the book The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick for the best advice on how to check that you are onto a great idea.
Wasting time on details that don’t matter
A new business is a representation of you and that’s why most entrepreneurs want things to be as close to perfect as possible before unveiling their business to the world. This is where the saying ‘done is better than perfect’ comes into play. A classic mistake we see all too often is a new business owner spending an obscene amount of time trying to find the perfect business name, logo or website design.
If you’re guilty of this, stop. The reality is that no-one cares about your logo or name as much as you think they do. While it’s great to have a name that embodies everything about your business, you only have to look at successful companies with obscure names like Apple, Bumble and Amazon to see that your actual business idea and model matter more than your name.
As long as you aren’t infringing on someone’s trademark or using a name that’s too similar to a competitor’s, just pick something and get moving.
Not researching the business name you choose
There is only one exception to point made above: choosing a name that’s similar to your competitor’s. It’s commonly done: you have a dream name in mind for your business and you find out that a competitor has a similar name but because you love the name so much you choose to stick with that name. Or even worse, you don’t bother to check if anyone else is using that name and go ahead and launch your business.
The problem with doing this is that if you start running your business with a name that is trademarked and registered by someone else, you are putting yourself at risk of unnecessary legal action if/when your company takes off. And even if the name isn’t trademarked but someone else is already running a business with that name and they are selling a similar product to yours, your decision to stick with that name could end up costing you dearly. Customers may not realise the difference between the two brands and those searching for your company could find your competitor instead. Avoid this by searching for trademarked names and similar domain names before launching your business.
Trust us, you’ll be glad you took the time to do so.
Catering to everyone
As the saying goes, ‘if you speak to everyone, you speak to no-one’. Regardless of this, we still hear new business owners insisting that ‘everyone’ is their target audience. On the surface, it’s a strategy that makes sense. If you cast your net as wide as possible, you’re likely to catch more fish. Right?
Sadly, things don’t work that way in the marketing world. When your brand message is too broad, you run the risk of watering it down. Remember that people buy from brands they feel extremely well aligned with. To achieve this, you need to deliver a strong message that instantly hits home with a specific type of person.
So before you launch that great business idea of yours, sit down and draft an ideal customer avatar. Write down everything about that person: gender, age, occupation, where they live, how much they earn, what they do for fun, where they eat, shop etc. You want to understand everything about your ideal client and then market specifically to that person.
Taking course after course after course
Depending on the type of business you plan to launch, you may need to acquire specific skills you don’t have or you may need to be certified before you can legally launch your business. If this is the case, it is vital to complete any necessary courses. However, there is a tendency for new business owners to try and allay their fear of failure or tackle imposter syndrome by taking lots of courses that they simply don’t need.
Doing so is just an elaborate and expensive form of procrastination. There are no guarantees in business. The only way to achieve success is to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Investing in course after course after course (many of which, usually teach you the exact same thing), is just putting off the inevitable. Avoid falling into the trap of always looking for the next course that will teach you that vital thing you don’t know yet. Just get started.
Did we miss any vital mistakes to avoid when starting a business? Let us know in the comments below.
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