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5 Common Entrepreneurial Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

ByDavid Molnar,
business.com writer
|
Nov 30, 2016
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> Business Basics
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Starting a business can be fraught with pitfalls, risks and catastrophes.

While many people dream of starting a company, the experience can be fraught with pitfalls, risks, and problems that can blow up into catastrophes.

This is why so many entrepreneurs fail, or give up before they’ve begun.

Fortunately, being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean dodging calamity on a regular basis. When you’re aware of common entrepreneurial pitfalls, and you know how to avoid them, you can safeguard yourself and your company and streamline the entire entrepreneurial process.

With that in mind, here are the top five mistakes to avoid as an entrepreneur: 

Being too stringent (or too generous) with your budget 

As a small business owner, you cannot afford to have startup costs become personal liabilities. You also can’t afford to put so little money into your company that it never gets off the ground. One of the hardest but most critical aspects of being an entrepreneur is learning to develop a budget.

Today, spending on content marketing is increasing year over year, and finding a balanced budget that works for you will require you to take a close look at your priorities, available resources, and goals. Keep in mind that there is no "one size fits all" rule for a budget, and too much or too little can do severe damage to your young company. 

Setting impossible goals 

While the call in the entrepreneurial community is “fail often,” “fail fast,” and “fail forward,” you can’t fail all the time. We’re only human, and not reaching your goals gets disappointing and disheartening over time. Because of this, it's critical to avoid setting impossible goals. 

While reaching for the stars is smart, you also need to be able to achieve your objectives. Setting attainable goals is key to keeping morale high and maintaining forward progress.

Not outsourcing some of your responsibilities

Even if your company started as a one-person show, it’s common for outsourcing to become necessary as the business grows. 

With this in mind, outsource your biggest pain points. For example, if you hate writing content and learning to blog for your business, but you need written material, outsource your content to a professional copywriter. If you need a functional website, but the idea of coding makes your hands shake, find a web designer to help you.

Today, sites like Fiverr and Upwork allow entrepreneurs to connect with qualified freelancers at affordable rates. Entrepreneurs who outsource time-consuming responsibilities will find that they have more time, energy, and effort to focus on growing their business.

Focusing more on sales than you do on building relationships 

One of the worst mistakes entrepreneurs make is to focus too much on selling. While there was a period when the hard-sell was common, it's fallen out of vogue in recent years. As a general rule, today’s customers are turned off by pushy sales methods. 

With this in mind, focus on building relationships first and making sales second. For example, when your customers reach out on social media, respond to them personally. When you sit down to create content, write to serve and assist your readers. When a customer presents a problem, address it thoroughly and quickly, even if it means losing a bit of money in the process.

When you focus on building relationships first, the sales follow naturally. 

Being too afraid of the unknown to take a risk

Doing anything entrepreneurial requires you to get cozy with risk. If you can’t do that, you need to get out of the game. That said, though, smart entrepreneurs aren't reckless. Instead, the brightest and most successful entrepreneurs approach risk with intent and careful planning.

While it's true that risk is an essential component of entrepreneurship, you must calculate it carefully, and have a backup plan at every turn. This keeps you from betting the farm and guarantees that, even if you fail, things won't be beyond repair. 

Smart Entrepreneurship Made Simple

Entrepreneurship is a fulfilling pursuit, but it’s also a difficult one. By understanding these five common pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them, though, you can attain your goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur with a thriving business.  

 Image from ra2studio/Shutterstock.

David Molnar
David Molnar
See David Molnar's Profile
I come from a family of small business owners. I graduated from Rider University, where I obtained an Entrepreneurial Studies in just 3 ½ years. After graduation, I went on to start my own computer repair business. In four short years, Dave’s Computers Inc. has grown from a small company serving a handful of clients to a busy business with thousands of customers in Somerset County, New Jersey. Since our launch, Dave's Computers has seen a 20% growth in sales year over year. Today, the company has more than 1,000 Facebook fans, has been featured several times on Angie’s List as a trustworthy business, and has gained a position as a thought-leader in the areas of business development, technology solutions, social media strategy, and customer service.
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