When you’re starting a business, it is rare that you’ll ever feel sure about your actions. In fact, many times you’ll make a decision feeling absolutely clueless. One of the benefits of entrepreneurship is that while no two companies are the same, many go through similar problems. This is true regardless of the industry or size of the market you’re in. Because of this, there are certain fundamental mistakes that every business owner should look out for.
1. Hiring people strictly based on credentials.
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to get overly excited when someone wants to join your company. Yet many entrepreneurs overlook the costs of hiring too fast. This is most common when you come across a resume from an Ivy League school or someone with tons of experience. But just because they come from a great background, doesn’t mean they are necessarily great for your company.
Before pulling the trigger when you see great credentials, take time to make sure the person is also a cultural fit. Is this someone you could go on a five-hour road trip with and not want to pull your hair out? Remember, the person you’re bringing on board is going to be a part of the company for a long time. Don’t take the situation too lightly by just hiring off what’s on paper.
2. Don’t just sell, find out how to provide value.
One of the difficult parts about being an entrepreneur is forcing yourself to look at things outside of the numbers. Although being able to land customers is essential, in the early stages you need to take time to find out the value you can provide.
Being a smooth talker to land clients without first validating your business model is a recipe for disaster. We see this all the time with companies who raise huge rounds of funding then somehow fail. Why do so many of these startups shut down despite all the capital they’ve raised? Because they didn’t take time to prove their business model before trying to scale it.
3. Not searching for customer feedback.
When you start your own company, you usually get an inflated title like CEO. But many entrepreneurs forget that although their title is CEO, they’re starting from ground zero. And even in established companies, the CEO is still employed by her customers. Too many entrepreneurs forget this, failing under what I like to call the “Steve Jobs” syndrome: Caught up in beliefs that they can predict the future, founders push their vision and ignore their customers. Even with movements like “The Lean Startup,” there are still a great number of startups that don’t get feedback from buyers. The main reason for this is that it takes time and a small ego to listen to your customers. You have to willing to admit you’re wrong, and treat your company like a science experiment. Always remember that it’s the customer not you that is the visionary of your company.
4. Fearing failure
A lot of companies have a great product and team but fail to execute. Often, this is caused by a fear of failure. A true entrepreneur is not one who knows all the answers, instead they are the ones who will launch a rocket ship and paint it on the way up. You should never try to rush a decision but there are times when you just need to go with your gut. When it’s one of those times, make the decision, live with the consequences and move on. Failure is just part of the road to success.