The biggest mistake that young entrepreneurs can make is to not heed the advice of people who have preceded them.
Running a business isn’t easy, but you can set yourself up for failure or you can set yourself up for success.
With that in mind, here are five of the most common pitfalls that experienced businesspeople have identified.
1. Commanding Rather Than Leading
Any successful business needs someone who steers the ship, but you can’t do it alone. If you’re hiring people who will merely listen to what you say and fulfill your directives, you’re wasting your money.
The best entrepreneurs hire the people with specializations that shore up their own weaknesses, and that means hiring people who can reasonably tell you when you’re wrong about something.
Listening to people around you is important.
Listening means creating an environment where your team can feel comfortable speaking with you about their concerns without the risk of being punished, and it also means learning to accept when you’ve made a mistake and change your behavior accordingly.
It’s important to remember that everyone on staff profits from your company’s success and suffers from its failures and treat criticism not as a personal insult but as a recognition of your people’s commitment to the company’s greater good.
2. Ignoring Actionable Intelligence
Paying attention to the words of your staff should be a top priority, but it can sometimes be hard to determine how heavily you need to weigh the concerns of an employee especially when you have different voices telling you different things.
Numbers don’t lie, and that’s why it’s critical that you pay attention to the data available to you. If you’re concerned about your next move or second-guessing a mistake you’ve made, look to the data for answers.
That said, incomplete or otherwise bad data sets can steer you in the wrong direction. Not having enough data or incorrectly interpreting it can be as big of an issue as ignoring it entirely.
Make intelligence gathering a top priority and make sure it scales to the needs of your business.
Knowing how your customers interact with touch points, recognizing your targeted demographics, and understanding the success rates of your marketing operations can put data like raw sales numbers into far sharper relief.
3. Neglecting The Culture of The Workplace
The notion of the workplace as a family may be a tired cliche, but there’s still a resonant truth to it.
Companies bound by common values and principles are more likely to take their duty to the greater good personally, and they will also get more enjoyment out of their job.
But company culture isn’t something you can force. You can try to guide your staff towards a culture that benefits your company, but they’ll ultimately shape it into what it needs to be.
If your staff feels empowered by the job, they’re less likely to experience burnout and more likely to become advocates for your company’s success even outside the office.
Good company culture represents a combination of visible identifiers like dress codes, office design, and general policies of behavior, but it’s also defined by invisible factors like the interpersonal relationships between staff and their attitudes towards the bigger picture factors of the company.
Fostering both can help your company stand apart from your competition and make you a more promising option for fresh and meaningful talent.
4. Not Understanding The Competition
Few business owners have the privilege of competing against themselves, and even if you strike on an innovative new idea to tap, you can count on a flood of imitators to come to market intending to uproot you.
Being first doesn’t matter. The only important thing is being the best.
Having the tools in place to understand what your competitors are doing well and what they’re failing at is one of the best decisions you can make. Study their public successes and take to heart their mistakes.
And dig deeper to understand their operations. There are several tools available today that can provide you with online research and analysis regarding the digital footprints of competing companies.
5. Moving Too Fast
One of the biggest problems that software developers face is feature creep.
You have a score of great ideas for an app or software platform, but deciding to implement them all at once means that the end-result runs over cost and never hits the market.
It’s a principle that’s true in other fields. Start with modest goals and be sensible in how much you can achieve given the resources you can have. Having a single successful store is far more important than having multiple floundering franchise operations.
Build your business out slowly.
Start with a simple premise, build your customer base, and then consider how you can expand. You don’t need a fully fledged marketing team or branding outreach from day one, and every great idea you have need not leave the cutting room floor from the start.
Be just as cautious with your hiring practices. Hiring too many people at once will not just cause your labor costs to balloon. It can also result in losing track of your clarity of vision and leave you with managing staff rather than driving towards your goals.
Young entrepreneurs are eager, willing and ready to face all business challenges. This eagerness to succeed can lead to mistakes.
Avoid them by setting your priorities and sticking to them.
Lead, don’t command. Analyze data, don’t rely on guesstimates. Empower your staff and foster interpersonal relationships. Keep your competitors under a watchful eye and take it slow.