4 mistakes we make when starting a business

Most helpful if you have direct input into your business

Note: I generally write for the small business world of the UK, particularly focussing on service businesses. We're not talking tech start-up, growth strategies, investments and big exits. This will be most helpful if you have direct input into your business; either you are running it day to day and providing the service or you have a small team you manage.

1.Going solo

Starting with a contentious one, but... If you can, have a partner in business. Make it someone who shares your vision, passion and work ethic. Someone who wants it as bad as you do. They believe in it and they'll make it come true!

If you can find this person you're a lot closer to success than if not. Having a partner in your new venture will give you so many things not having one excludes. 

This topic really is for another whole article but having done both multiple times, life in business is a hell of a lot easier both for workload and general support when there's 2 of you at the helm.

For some inspiration check this list out: https://www.businessinsider.com/10-successful-cofounders-and-why-their-partnerships-worked?r=US&IR=T

2. An underwhelming pitch

This may be a mainly British problem but then again it is us Brits who I'm writing for.  It's fair to say we can be pretty reserved. Just look at the Enterprise adverts to get an idea of how we think of ourselves vs the Americans. Practise pitching your business. When asked what you do, "I'm a tax advisor" might not hit home as much as "I make sure you pay as little tax as possible, legally."

Especially when you're a young business you'll need to sell it more than most. Give people an idea of why they need your product or service, it's a much more powerful proposition than just telling them what you do.

3. A good product will sell itself, won't it?

Small business owners usually underestimate the value of good marketing. I don't mean spending thousands of pounds employing a marketing agency to create a 'strategy' for you. I mean marketing that actually works for your business. 

Either before or soon after launch, you should put a lot of effort into finding out what marketing works for you. As a small business owner, don't fall into the trap of throwing money down a marketing drain. It's very easy just to set up AdWords (or worse yet pay over-the-odds someone to set it up 'a campaign' for you!), plough 100s of pounds a month into it and hope that it's making a difference. People are still coming to you so it must be right?

Possibly not. Check. Don't guess, find out.

If you're not tech savvy then this is the time to learn. There's a wealth of possible resource out there and with most people going to some form of digital media to get advice on what to do and where to eat etc you need to understand where they may look and how you can utilise that.

Most importantly whether you're marketing online or offline (or hopefully a mixture of both) you should be constantly looking at what is working and why and possibly more importantly what is not.

4. Time is money

Not directly. Yes, if you're paying someone to do something time, is usually money but if you're sitting at home working on your next product time is not money. Forget working out how much you earn 'working' in the early phase of your entrepreneurial life. 

Whenever I've started out in a new venture if I actually sit down and work out what I'm earning it's usually something like £2.38/hour. I've worked all day and all night for a few weeks and had a few pence in return. It just doesn't work out very well if you look at it like that. It can be demoralising and allow thoughts of giving up to sneak in.

You know what, forget about it. You've hopefully gone into business as you love what you're doing. It, therefore shouldn't matter if you're not earning much. BUT if you keep working hard at it the rewards will come. Time isn't money, time is progress and you'll need lots of progress to bring your vision to life!