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7 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Business

Everyone will talk about how intoxicating almost addictive it is to launch your own business.


All those exciting meetings; inspiring conversations which not only filled you with the motivation to execute your business goals with utmost passion, but inspired you as you smelt the sweet scent of future success.

Two black women in a clothes store

 Listen to the experiences of business vanguards over a chilled glass of wine; the road to entrepreneurial triumph was laden with bumps, pitfalls, challenges and dare I say it - failing. But it’s not all bad news.


According to the Gender Index females created around 160,730 firms in the UK in 2023, bringing the total women-led companies to 874,730.  So, the appetite for entrepreneurship is still strong and thriving.


Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Business

 If you find yourself in the start-up phase or just taking your first steps on an entrepreneurial journey, then, I hate to break it to you, but I'm also sure you know that it's not going to be plain sailing.


We all make mistakes, but we can also learn from them. We can take important lessons from those missteps, so falling down is less common and tripping over less painful.


Lord knows I've made my own share of mistakes over the years, but I'm all the better for them.


As such I wanted to put together 7 key mistakes to avoid when starting a business. Let's start with...

 

1.    Thinking Research Doesn’t Matter

The problem with research is it can come across as either too fluffy, complex or just plain dull, especially when dealing with the rigid old-timers who can kill your joy, but you need it. How else will you know if there's a space in the marketplace for you?

 

If this area is not your forte, don’t be scared to work with influencers or barter services with those that understand your target audience; competition and, more importantly, market trends but PLEASE DON'T underestimate the importance of research.


Before building your product or service, invest time in truly understanding the market your target audience resides in. Who is your target audience? What problem does your product or service solve for them? Where are they? These questions, and many more, will guide you long into your journey.

 

If you're depending on poorly designed or vague research; you will be executing misguided strategies, campaigns and missed opportunities for years to come.

 

2. Poor Business Planning

Whether you are a solopreneur, consultant or start up, disciplined entrepreneurs work with thoughtful planning and set clear goals before starting any venture based on the strength of their business plan.


Sadly, if you are not motivated by your business plan you're going to be unable to make informed decisions or attract potential investors.

 

In addition, the problem with not working with a Business Plan, or an updated one, is your current vision, strategies and financial projections will be flawed. 


The business world is changing rapidly, and will continue to in the coming years, so it’s important your business is relevant and able to adapt, not just an expensive hobby. 

 

3. Misjudging Your Financial Needs

The fastest way to lose out to money making opportunities is to run out of money.

 

One of the biggest barriers to financial success is your personal relationship to and beliefs about money.


Be brave, be ambitious and believe you are going to strike gold. Don’t go in with a financial limp.

Women holding a smartphone showing the calculator displaying 0

If you realise that this is a weak area, it’s a good idea to to get help and even mentoring on this subject. Incidentally, I wrote a blog on mentoring recently, linked here if you'd like to read it.

 

It's essential to have a realistic estimate of your start-up costs, annual costs and enough capital to sustain operations until your business becomes profitable.


Avoid overly optimistic revenue projections and always plan for contingencies.


Sistas, remember the cost of networking, travel and all those lunches to meet potential collaborators or clients will hit the bottom line if not watched carefully. 

 

We want your finances to sizzle not fizzle!

 

4. Be Legal & Compliant

From registering your business to understanding tax obligations and securing necessary regulatory compliance, the legal landscape can be complex and confusing for someone with limited financial acumen.

 

Your bank should be able to be the first stop in getting this support.  If not, investing in a good lawyer and accountant is vital because neglecting these requirements can result in hefty fines or even business closure.

 

5. No Clear Marketing Strategy

Just because you created your product and service, does not mean your customers will come flooding to spend with you.  This is a falsehood.


Even the most innovative product needs a robust marketing strategy. Websites, social media and content don't exist in isolation. You have to spread the word.

 

By working to a well-defined, cohesive marketing and social media strategy, you should be building a healthy income.


Your marketing strategy must identify your unique selling proposition (USP) and more importantly who is your ‘buying’ target audience.


You need to know where they hang out (i.e. what social networks they use), and what makes them advocates for your brand, which is important when leveraging your social media campaigns and activities. 

 

It’s easy to happen, but remember to guarantee your online and offline marketing strategy are in sync.


Your customers, staff and stakeholders should be clear about your business vision and goals. 


Think of Red Bull, their brand is well coordinated and communicated across all areas of the business.  Make sure that your actions will not destroy your brand in the long run.

Another blog on that very company coming soon!

 

6. No Clear Roles

When you are starting up or in the early stages of your business, it is fine to wear many hats. In fact it's almost a uniform for new entrepreneurs.


In the early days you're probably doing everything, but, over time, your managerial skills become equally as important as your sales figures. The hats grow to fit new heads, the ones you keep change size and some you wear less and less. You'll look fabulous in them all I'm sure.

 

Gradually you start to lead more than manage, and you'll have to ensure your fledgling team or new business partners, know their roles and have the resources they need to succeed.


Confirm that roles are not blurred and clearly defined responsibilities is crucial for accountability and efficiency.


When it's not just you, creating a positive company culture means you will attract the most talented staff and foster greater loyalty to your business.

 

Don't underestimate the work culture you're developing. Neglecting this area may lead to a toxic environment, where employees do not feel valued and even worse, motivated to reach goals, resulting in higher staff turnover.


Trust me, you don’t want your staff and peers blurring your brand and impacting your future sales when you've worked so hard to see your vision clearly take shape.

 

7. Customer Feedback is Vital

The business world is dynamic, and adaptability is key to survival.


Rigidly sticking to your original plan without considering market changes, technological advancements, or customer preferences can render your business obsolete. This is why your customers are your best critics and most trusted advisors.

 

Your customers hold valuable insights. Listen to their feedback, whether positive or challenging.


Adapt and improve based on their experiences.  Ignoring their feedback can lead to creating products or services that miss the mark.


Embrace constructive criticism and use it to refine your offerings.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

In Conclusion

There's no denying that entrepreneurship often feels like a solo journey, but it doesn't have to be.


Seek mentorship, build a strong team and delegate tasks. Collaborations can bring in new perspectives and lighten your load, allowing you to focus on growth.

 

Stay informed, be adaptable, and never underestimate the power of a well-thought-out business plan.


Remember, every successful entrepreneur has faced challenges and learned from their missteps, me included - it's all part of the journey.


Be kind to yourself. Every misstep is an opportunity to learn and grow.

 

I hope you found these key 7 missteps useful and will help you to better navigate a smoother entrepreneurial journey but I'd love to know what you think.


What missteps did you make on your own journey? What lessons did you learn from them? If you could speak to your younger self, what advice would you give to them?


You can also join our exclusive Start-Up Talk group where you can talk, chat and discuss these topics and many more with Sista in the same boat as you. Just click the link below, sign-up to the NBWN (if you haven't already) and start a conversation with Sistas who know!

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Keep up-to-date by connecting with the NBWN on X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram and don't forget to use the #YouBelongHere

 

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