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Start-up Advice

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

There is no predicting all that is needed to succeed as an entrepreneur but what never works is well known.

Timothy Sykes

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Being an entrepreneur may very well be one of the most difficult jobs on the planet.

There are very few career paths that require the same amount of work, skill, sacrifice and commitment. Being an entrepreneur is really hard but also really rewarding.

No matter what field you are in, or what type of business you own, it is so important that you understand some of mistakes that tend to plague so many entrepreneurs in today’s market.

 These are by far the biggest mistakes that any business owner can make. Avoid these mistakes at all costs and you will set yourself up for success.

Related: 6 Common Mistakes First-Time Business Owners Should Avoid

1. Expecting success right away

If you are expecting success right away from your business, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Yes, it is great to have the confidence and the drive to want to be successful fast, but you shouldn’t expect these results right away. It takes a long time to grow a business. It takes an even longer time to make money from a business.

You need to be realistic about your expectations and try to be patient. One of the many reasons that so many businesses fail so early on is because entrepreneurs expect they can open their doors and just like that they will start making money.

 Many times these companies go out of business because the entrepreneur can’t afford to pay the rent anymore, they were expecting to earn money right away to cover their expenses. This is why having a cushion to fall back on and being realistic about how much money you can actually make at first is so important.

2. Trying to do everything yourself

business-man-failure

A good entrepreneur knows how to delegate, plain and simple. If you try to do everything yourself, you are only setting yourself up for failure. You need to know how to outsource. I talked in great deal about outsourcing in the past and hiring others to take care of some of the tasks that I simply cannot handle on my own.

Different entrepreneurs will have different types of tasks that they want outsourced. No matter what those things are it is important that you are delegating them to others so you can make better use of your time and put yourself in the best position possible, to do your best work possible.

Doing everything yourself will only cause you to burn out or draw focus away from the tasks that actually need your expertise and attention.

3. Ignoring your true passion and just going for the money

If you aren’t passionate about your business and the field you have chosen to open a company in, then you will never be successful.

 One of the biggest mistakes that any entrepreneur can make is ignoring their true passion and just opening a company to make money. I was passionate about penny stocks even though the rest of Wall St. wasn’t.

Many people urged me to “follow the money” and go into different sectors, but I already had success with penny stocks so I decided to stick with it. I made a free guide and now I’m the biggest teacher of this undeserved niche; in fact my own teaching business now makes 8 figures annually.

Entrepreneurs who do this get no fulfillment out of life, even if they are successful. I guarantee you money alone will not comfort you in the way that feeling fulfilled can.

Related: Avoid These 7 Mistakes When Pitching to Big-Time VCs

4. Not being adaptable

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If you want to be a successful entrepreneur in today’s ever-changing market, then you need to learn to be adaptable. If you are not adapting and you are putting too much expectation on one product or service, you will never succeed. You are putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to say.

Instead, you need to test, test and test again. Try various products and solutions. Explore new options. Go with what is working now, but always be ready to make changes in the future.

5. Ignoring social media

There are so many traditional industries that think they don’t need the Internet. Whether you are a package store or a dry cleaner, it doesn’t matter, you need the internet.

Why? Customers are on the internet and any business that wants to be successful needs to be where their customers are and put themselves face-to-face with their clients.

Related: Derek Thomas from Letsema Holdings on Learning from your Mistakes

There is a tech revolution right now and entrepreneurs need to use it. The internet and social media are very cheap tools for any entrepreneur to use, and most importantly, they can be very effective.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Timothy Sykes is an entrepreneur and a penny stock expert, trader and advocate. He has been featured on CNN, Fox News, CNBC and more and has spoken at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University.

Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden

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You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden

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Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck

luck

This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black

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Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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