Some people just seem to be possessed of an entrepreneurial spirit, and everybody always seems to know someone with a great idea who turned it into a fortune practically overnight. Unfortunately, fast money and effortless business success are more myth than reality. It’s surprisingly easy to make mistakes when starting your own business, as the following ten blunders demonstrate:
1. Don’t Skip the Business Plan
Excited by a good idea, some people decide to “just go for it” rather than taking the time to prepare. A good business plan serves as a map, keeping you from wasting your efforts in areas that won’t bring you success.
2. Don’t Rush It
Instead of taking the time to build up savings and fully finance the venture with cash or affordable loans, some entrepreneurs choose to jump in with both feet. But if the business isn’t instantly profitable, they stand to take an overwhelming personal financial hit and may miss out on the chance to slowly build a successful company.
3. Don’t Depend on Family Alone
A family-run business can seem like the best idea – you know you can trust each other and will share the rewards. But what if the business fails? Can all of you afford the financial loss? And what happens to your family relationships if you don’t always agree on how the business should be run?
4. Don’t Ignore the Legalities
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free and cheap forms online that promise to help you form a limited liability corporation or operating agreements or articles of incorporation for your business. But a cheap form can be costly when you discover something that was missed amid boilerplate language and fine print.
5. Don’t Forget to Advertise
Sometimes people assume that if they are good at what they do, work will automatically come their way. In reality, no matter what your business is, you will need to be able to convince customers to come to you.
6. Don’t Be a Follower
Instead of finding your own niche or work that you are passionate about, send away for a “business in a box” kit or DVD series that you stumble across on late-night television. There’s a reason why most of them have scathing online reviews from people who purchased guaranteed success and discovered it didn’t live up to the hype.
7. Don’t Discount Your Ideas
You know you’re original, so you don’t need to prove it… or so you might think until another company swoops in and makes use of your intellectual property. Copyright laws, trademark registrations, and even non-disclosure agreements can be essential to ensure you’re fairly compensated when people use your ideas.
8. Don’t Underestimate Your Competition
You know your product or service is great, and you know what it will cost you to be able to provide it, so why bother checking to see what your competition is up to? Unfortunately, an established business may be able to deliver a broader array of products and services at a cheaper price than a newcomer. When starting a business, make sure you’re not outmatched before you even try to make your first sale.
9. Don’t Solve a Problem that Doesn’t Exist
If you’re the only person doing this, then you’ll get all of the business, right? Actually, no. Often the reason there’s no competition is because the idea itself isn’t workable or the problem your product or service solves doesn’t exist as a market.
10. Don’t Start without a Business Attorney.
Whether you’re just starting out or facing a corporate lawsuit, your own lack of legal knowledge can cost you thousands of dollars or even control of your business. Finding a business lawyer who understands your company and can offer expert advice and guidance will pay off in the long run.