All entrepreneurs will make mistakes. There are no exceptions. Some will make less than others, others will get more out of their mistakes, but it’s the universal truth — mistakes will be made. They tend to happen a lot in the beginning of your run as an entrepreneur. Not only are you running a business for a first time, you’re probably going to do a lot of other things for the first time as well. You’ll be required not just to play the role of CEO, but of accountant, human resources manager, as well as marketer and salesman.
These mistakes and burdens have cost many start-ups their existence. Many fail within the first 18 months. If you’re a new entrepreneur, you owe it to yourself and your business to learn as much as you can from people who’ve gone down the road before. This way you can learn from their mistakes and increase the odds of succeed. Here are a number of frustratingly common mistakes new entrepreneurs should learn about.
1. Treating Everyone the Same
Managing people is a skill that takes time to learn. While others can seemingly take to it like fish to water, rest assured that they’ll still have a lot to learn. This is important, as your employees are your most important asset. If you can’t manage them, it won’t be long before your business fails.
It’s understandable that you’re tempted to standardize how you treat your employees. With so much on your plate, it may feel like the best way to treat them well while giving you room to breathe. Unfortunately, it’s not acceptable. To get the most out of your people, you need to figure out how to motivate each and every one of them. That means studying how they respond to your input and what drives them to work every day. The more effectively you do this, the better a manager you’ll be.
2. Treating Consensus as the Only Goal
Consensus is not all it’s cracked up to be. Just because everyone agreed to do the same thing doesn’t mean everyone’s working towards the same goal — which can be a problem down the line. Everyone constantly agreeing is not only suboptimal, it indicates that your team lacks viewpoint diversity. You also run the risk of people compromising on better solutions in an effort to achieve consensus.
Consensus makes things seem like it’s running smoothly, but the fact is having people work towards the same goal is far more important than agreement. Encourage discussion and discuss other viewpoints. Only by doing this will you find the best way to do things. It’ll take more time and may cause friction, but having everyone oriented towards the same goal means that any differences of opinion won’t end the company.
3. Hiring Too Quickly
Large companies seem to run potential hires through the ringer, putting them through as many as eight interviews. It’s a large expense, but also a common one. These companies understand the danger of putting the wrong people in the wrong positions. Even a single wrong hire can result in a lot of time and money wasted.
If larger companies feel that a bad hire can cost them much, you can imagine how much of an impact it’ll have on a small start-up. Take the hiring process slowly. The more you rush it, the more likely you are to hire someone who either can’t do the job well enough or doesn’t fit with the company culture. If possible, hire people as consultants first and treat it as a dry run.
4. Letting Your Ego Dominate Your Actions
Succeeding as an entrepreneur mostly boils down to making enough good decisions. Easier said than done. Consistently making the correct or good choice is difficult. Most of the time, what makes it difficult is not your lack of knowledge, but your ego.
Your ego will push you into places you don’t want to be. More than anyone else, you’re committed to the project. This is your idea, your company. It’s difficult to admit when you’re at fault and change direction when you feel the rest of the company will either look respect for you or laugh when you do so.
Choose the right decision, regardless of the source. Your ego doesn’t matter nearly as much as the start-up’s health and success. If you can’t do that, you’ll never make it.
These are far from the only mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur. There are plenty of others, but these are some of the more common ones. Fortunately, knowing to avoid these mistakes is often enough to keep you and the start-up safe.