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The Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Starting A Business (And How To Avoid Them)

Cat LeBlanc

In my line of work, I hear so many sad stories about people who have a wonderful business idea (or several!) but have been sitting on them – sometimes for years! – because they are mired in fear, indecision, or something else is holding them back.

In fact, I hear these stories so often, I can break most of them down into one of five major mistakes I see people make when starting a business:

  1. Thinking about it forever. I like to call this ‘one day’ thinking, as in, “One day I’ll start my business…” or, “One day I’ll go into business for myself…” but one day never comes. And the only way to avoid this, friends, is to just start. Just start! It sounds easy, but I see that it might be frightening for you. In that case, I encourage you to sit down and make a list of everything you would need to do to start your business. It might include things like, “Pick a name,” “register a domain,” or “decide on my prices.” Break each thing down into the smallest step possible, then commit to doing one step a day, or give yourself a deadline. That’s a great way to get moving.
  2. Staying constantly in preparation mode. This tends to happen after you’ve conquered the ‘one day’ thinking. Maybe you put “Learn to build a website” on your list, so you go out and take an ecourse on building a website. And then you take one on design. And one on writing. You just keep learning. learning, learning… But never actually getting anything done. You can actually start to get business course burnout, and you might be spending all your money before you even make any. Learning is important at this stage, but so is TAKING ACTION, which is why I think so many people benefit from a coach at this stage. And remember: no one ever feels “ready” to take the leap in starting a business; you just have to do it anyway.
  3. Not choosing one idea. There’s been a lot of chatter in the business advice community about “multi-passionate entrepreneurs” – people who seem to follow all their passions, working as a belly dancer and a life coach and a horse whisperer.  But let me be totally honest with you: the people who succeed at that are outliers. Most people who try to follow multiple business ideas never fully committing to one business and end up just starting a couple of projects half-heartedly. It’s much better to choose one idea to focus on; you can always add another later once you’re successful! But which idea to choose? This comes down to choosing the right idea, and I talk about this extensively in my training. And, sometimes there is a core theme or overlap between ideas so finding that can be the way to find the right idea to start with. Remember: You never have to give up a dream, you just have to focus.
  4. Not getting personal guidance. I think it would have taken twice as long if not three times as long to get my business to the level it is at now without coaching, and in business, time is money. Getting it wrong and having to start again costs time and money and can be pretty damn soul destroying too. Most new entrepreneurs think they have to figure everything out for themselves from scratch, but that’s just not true if you hire the right coach. If you don’t have the time or money to waste, I highly suggest investing in one-on-one support rather than trying to reinvent the wheel by yourself.
  5. Trying to do everything on the cheap. Starting an online business is unlikely to be a cheap exercise. Or at least cheap is relative. It is cheap in comparison to buying a Subway franchise or starting a bricks and mortar business, but it is not free. Buying your first ecourse doesn’t cover it in almost all cases. You can’t have something for nothing – the universe just doesn’t work that way. If you want an amazing website you have to pay for it, or be prepared to put the time in to learn yourself. If you do it yourself now, you should also be prepared to pay to have it done again in a year or two for a more professional, functional site. The same with coaching or strategy: either you pay for advice in some form, or you go it alone and learn the hard way. So when you are considering investing in anything, get into the mindset of thinking in terms of return on investment. Will I make more money/save time because of buying this? Don’t get caught up in shiny object syndrome, buying every little thing, but rather be willing to spend conscientiously on the things that will net you the best results.

My best advice for starting a new business.

Do you notice a theme around any of these?  My biggest advice to you would be to take action. I hear too many stories of people who have been thinking about starting something for two years or more and still have nothing to show for it other than the big dream inside their head.

Yes, if you try, you might fail.  That’s part of life.  But if you take the rest of the advice to heart and make smart choices about when and where to get help, your chances of success skyrocket! I’ll be announcing a new way to work with me in the next couple of days, so if you’ve been stuck in the idea phase of your business for too long, start thinking about the kind of help you’d like to invest in to finally get your project moving.

I’d love to hear from you.

If you’ve already started a business, what mistakes could you envision people making?

Did you have to overcome any of these hurdles to get started?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments below and if you are interested in getting some free training on starting your business click on the image below.

 

Strike Business Gold

7 Responses to The Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Starting A Business (And How To Avoid Them)

  1. Great post Cat. I agree with you about getting a coach. I’ve had a few coaches in the past 10 years and the accountability you get from a coach is worth the money you spend on one.

    And also the TAKING ACTION advice is huge! Taking action is the #1 thing that will get your business off the ground. I know that when I started my online business I wasn’t ready but I had to just start.

    Now I’m 5 years in and I’ve made lots of mistakes but I’ve learned a lot too.

  2. This point is really the most challenging: “Trying to do everything on the cheap.”

    Every new business has to be super smart with their cash flow, so that leaves the business owner with the choice of either not going for the investment, going for a cheaper one or doing it themselves.

    Not an easy place to be in :)

  3. Having a coach and a great tools are so important. In the end, spending the money helps me to make so much more because I am empowered and free to do my best.
    I am so guilty of wanting to get it all perfect first. Taking action is the one way to figure it out. You are so right.
    Great post!!!!

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