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Readers Respond: What Are the Most Common Business Startup Mistakes People Make?

Responses: 20

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Business startup is always a stressful time, as no one knows how successful a new business will be until the startup period is over. But sometimes people trying to develop new businesses make the startup period even more stressful than it needs to be or even inadvertently do things that sabotage their new business' chance of success. What do you think are the most common business startup mistakes people make? Share Your Opinion

Exceptional reading - Words to live by

Many individuals assume "if you build it; they will come. Most don't take into consideration what it truly takes to run a successful business from the ground up. You must have passion, dedication, start-up funding, know your targeted niche, how are you different, and with today's online & offline marketing tools... Know how to use them properly.
—Guest GoPink Hosting Inc.

Some terrible advice

As some of the other commentators have pointed out, some of this advice is actually right out of the "worst advice ever" handbook. Specifically, the "get a crummy website designed for free" can actually sink your business post 1998. It would be better to not have one at all. This is entirely impartial advice, there'll be no e-mail left here for you to find me and discover I'm actually hawking websites.
—Guest ScienceAndCake

The Good, The Bad, And Just Plain Wrong

I like some of your advice... such as being consistent in modelling a successful business's marketing efforts. However, some of the advice is simply outdated. 1. "DIY" website... if this is (acc. to your advice) the primary marketing tool, then "amateur hour" had better end! If you go to a site that is garbage, you will attribute that "fit & finish" to the tradesperson's abilities. 2. No business cards / flyers. REALLY???? How many would do business with someone who is so unprofessional as to not even have a professionally-printed business card? Ever get one of those "did it myself" cards with the fuzzy edges??? It really motivates you to whip out the wallet and buy... oh, wait--I meant run far, far away. 3. In the age of digital everything, it doesn't take a ton of money to produce a decent flyer, and deliver it online as a PDF. I'm geting flyers done for $50 for 2 pages w/ graphics and photos by a professional, delivered as a PDF for my clients' redistribution. FYI
—EXCEL_BC

Don't Do Your Website Yourself

I dispute your idea of doing it yourself, concerning the website. A good website is your image. Having proper and accurate information along with excellent footage or pictures accompanied by the finishing touches, will only make your company appear professional. Why put the cost upon sixty days? Obtain a 120 day payment of the $3000.00 you are about to spend. Like your position on the contractor or construction, do it right from the start! Have your webmaster place emails on the webpage/site. Knowing the website is secure people will have quick and easy access when they are viewing your product, therefore granting them the opportunity to expressly advise of their desires. Make sure you can update the webpage yourself or someone updating the webpage is diligent in doing so! Have identification for the items listed. This will ease your search when someone does contact you regarding the product or service offered.
—Guest Albert E.

Find your experts

There are many DIY recommendations in the original top 10 list that are dangerous areas for an entrepreneur. It can leave weak points in their companies that may not be visible at first, but can result in liability exposure, sales and marketing holes, branding inconsistencies (when you start to expand, you should have an established brand). Many comments on individual areas have been made above, but to summarize: if you open a business as a carpenter, you should focus on being an expert at carpentry, or at running a carpentry business. That doesn't make you an automatic expert on Legal, Accounting, Bookkeeping, Marketing, or Graphic Design (print or online) etc. Find a team of experts and listen carefully to their advice. Budget appropriately for when you are able to hire their services. Ultimately your business is stronger than if you tried to "go it alone". Entrepreneurs who think they can do it all within their business just reinforce your point - Jack of all Trades, master of none.
—Guest Guest Lydia

Disagree w/ #5

It may surprise the author to learn that there are those of us out there who are entrepreneurs ourselves that build high quality, well-designed, even business-building websites. If I charged $600 for the sites I built, or worse, did them for free for all my friends and relatives, I'd no longer be in business for myself. Believe it or not, there is a value to what others bring to the table in the marketing/advertising realm. If you build a website yourself with no previous experience, it's going to look and perform like a website you build yourself. I do agree with having a marketing plan, but what's the point of a good marketing plan if you're going to execute your media like a non-professional? The not-so-subtle message is: don't spend money on media. True that there are less costly media alternatives that ever, but don't underestimate the power of a good website to generate business. You get what you pay for.
—Guest Guest AndyS.

Budget for online branding

Good web design costs money (think $1500 minimum) and you may not see an immediate return, but letting your kid design your website would be a mistake. These days, 97% of consumers are searching for local businesses online. Two thirds will go online for more information rather than calling after viewing a print ad in the phone directory. These facts should not be ignored. When properly designed by a professional web developer, your online presence serves as your online business card, marketing and lead generation tool, and customer service interface. Your customers are going to make a snap decision about your business based on the look and feel of your website, and if it sucks because you let Little Johnny handle it for you to save a few bucks you will be crippling your long term growth. A bad website will drive away customers and make the ones you do get undervalue your services. That said, don't get ripped off. Ask to see a portfolio and testimonials before agreeing to anything.
—Guest Budget for online branding

Not hiring a bookkeeper soon enough.

Certainly there are great ‘user friendly’ software programs out there, and it’s a wise business decision to keep your overhead low in the beginning, but time and time again I’ve been seen many small business owners scramble to get the books in order after that first year of business while the owner(s) have been trying to ‘do it all’ and save on overhead. Sure you can find somebody to help you out in a pinch but rush jobs cost extra money and wasn’t saving money the idea in the first place? Getting a properly qualified and experienced bookkeeper can save you money, not to mention time. If your books don’t balance at the end of the year, your tax accountant is going to have to get his/her bookkeepers to balance your books at his/her rate. That’s on top of the time you’ve already put in. Professional bookkeeping offers peace of mind during the struggle to grow and succeed in your first year of business.
—Guest Gloria G.

Startup Mistakes

Most do not study the demographics of the area and the estimated costs without a backup financially.
—Guest BOB AUSTIN

Most Common Mistake

The biggest mistake that people make is underestimating the amount of capital and time it takes to run a SUCCESSFUL business. In addition, many beginning business owners interpret their revenue as profit, which is entirely not true. I recently spoke with an individual who commented that their business made 60k last year, only two years after its birth. I soon found out that the business GROSSED that much, but earned almost nothing. I have found some great insights on startup businesses on startupflurry.com. They give an unbiased view of startup businesses, and help you to get your creative juices flowing when it comes to business ideas.
—bulldawg7

Time is money

I believe one of the biggest mistakes in starting up a business is, as Dave mentions, underestimating costs. However, the biggest hidden costs are in time. Delays in permits, licensing, construction, production lead times for print or video ads, website development, etc. Will set you back sometimes for months at a time, when you add them all up, you can easily be a year behind your original "schedule". Be pessimistic in forecasting the timeliness of your launch.
—Guest Greg

Ignoring the first step

In my experience, the most common startup mistake regarding the very beginning is a lack of knowing the wants and needs of future customers. And second the insufficient knowledge of the own capabilities and strengths. Ignoring the importance of these two basic facts is fatal. Even if the business startup is successful it doesn´t mean it is doing smart business. Most business attempts require hard work harder than necessary. Although I do not (yet) own a business I had been able years ago to start a totally new job after a reorientation by applying the EKS® Strategy of the German business economist Wolfgang Mewes. A description of the EKS ® principles you find on my website time-management-use.com long with another valuable information about starting a small business and avoid startup mistakes.
—hero58

Business Startup Takes Patience

A new business is exciting, challenging, frustrating and rewarding all at the same time. Rome was not built in a day and neither will your business. Take the time to learn anything and everything about the line of business you enter. Network with key people in your industry and don't be afraid to reach out to your competition as they can also become your growth. For example, if you are a service oriented business and are already booked and have to say "No" to a potential client, refer that client to another business in your same industry. Ideally with the network you build, the other businesses will do the same for you when they're booked. Your net'work' is your net'worth'. Be consistent in your branding, marketing and overall image as this will help ensure recognition in the long run. Customer service is also paramount. Deliver what you promise and go beyond and above everyone else. Be different. Be a leader and not a follower.
—Guest Kevin

Manage Your Time for Success

Time is everything. Learn to manage your time correctly. Work will always be there tomorrow. Working 20 hours a day is good for nobody and is very unhealthy. In my opinion time away from your business can help you to refocus and remind you of what you're working for.
—Guest tf

one more mistake first timers make

Being too darn trusting! I find most small business first timers trust everyone around them and listen to all the noise. Get educated and get facts - don't listen to people who think they know better. Take the advice but don't live by it. Big mistake! Your two best friends in business are your accountant and lawyer!
—Guest justme

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What Are the Most Common Business Startup Mistakes People Make?

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