Just Say No: 7 Horrible Mistakes First-Time Entrepreneurs Make

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

I've mentored 100s of first-time entrepreneurs, and these are their most common mistakes.

I have mentored 100s of first-time entrepreneurs over the years, and I’ve noticed that first-time entrepreneurs tend to make the same horrible mistakes. 

Please avoid these things:

Pretending You Know Everything

There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you are a first-time entrepreneur. In fact, the first mistake that first-time entrepreneurs make is pretending to know everything.

When you need help, ask for it. Chances are someone in your network has some answers for you.

Just make sure that person is qualified to be giving you advice on that topic. The entrepreneurial community is amazing, and a lot of people will be happy to help you if you just ask for it.

Starting Businesses That You Don’t Know

One of the smartest decisions you can make as a first-time entrepreneur is investing your time in the right business. Don’t start your first business in a highly competitive field that you don’t know well.

That would be like a computer programmer showing up to an MMA fight against Georges St. Pierre or Anderson Silva. The odds are very much against you. Pick something you know well, and turn that into your first business.

Related Article:5 Mistakes That Will Sink Your Startup And How to Avoid Them

Getting Locked Into a Bad Idea

Your wife/husband/mom/dog/gardener told you that your app idea was great. Unless they are proven business experts in that field then you can’t use that data alone to judge the quality of your idea.

This day in age there are endless platforms available to research competitors and market needs. Think Amazon reviews, Quora, Reddit, customer complaint boards, etc. If you want a step by step technique to find brilliant business ideas, I recommend the Secret Words Method.

Hiring Your Friends

It might seem tempting. Hire your friends because they are loyal, right? Wrong. What happens if they don’t perform, and you have to fire them?

Things can get messy fast, and it could ruin your friendship. Avoid hiring friends unless you set very clear expectations from the beginning so there are no hard feelings if you have to fire them.

Giving Away Control for Capital

A lot of first-time entrepreneurs will stop at nothing to get an investor to invest. This can often be dangerous if you have to give away a controlling interest in your company. If you are still in the idea phase, it might be better to continue bootstrapping the business and get some traction before you look for an investor.

If you don’t have any traction or not even a prototype, it will be much harder to find an investor that is not going to want a large chunk of interest in your company. I’ve seen start-up founders kicked out of their own companies because an investor controlled more than 50 percent.

Related Article:Protect Your Genius: 5 Intellectual Property Mistakes That Can Doom Your Startup

Listening to Everyone

As you get going with your start up, it will be tempting to listen to everyone. Everyone has an opinion. But the reality is, not everyone has a qualified opinion. You want qualified opinions. Sure you can get a little bit of creative input from non-experts now and then, but your business shouldn’t use that stuff as gospel.

I’ve heard some crazy stories in my days. One guy took some app marketing advice from his gardener. On an unrelated note, his app no longer exists. Big surprise there.

Pouring All Your Money into Branding

This is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects for many first time entrepreneurs. "Of course, I want a big billboard on Hollywood Boulevard! Wow, it’s only $150,000? What a steel,” said a former client of mine. Coincidentally, he blew all of his money and didn’t get much out of it.

I remember telling him until I was blue in the face not to do it, and presented a performance based campaign instead that would guarantee results for his money spent. My campaign would have allowed him to scale his business incrementally, using a proven system that many other successful apps used.

But he went with the glitz and glamor of having his brand on a billboard. Sure a few locals saw it, but it was entirely short lived and his app company is now out of business.

The best piece of advice I can give is to think through all of your steps before you take them. As a first time entrepreneur, a misstep can cost you your entire business before it has even had a legitimate chance. When in doubt, ask qualified people to help you.

Related Article:Business Beware: Top 12 Mistakes To Avoid When Outsourcing

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