The American Dream is surely alive and well, and many people have new ideas begging to become businesses. Many people, like you, give in to those little voices and take the plunge every year. But you may also have realized by now how many questions you need to answer. What are you selling? Where will you be located? How will you market your product or service?
Of course, as your business grows, there will be a million and one more questions to answer. And, yes, you will make mistakes along the way. With some hard work and help along the way, you can make your business stronger, which will give you a newfound appreciation for owning your own company.
If you are like most new business owners, you may have plenty of people trying to give you advice. Perhaps they are telling you where they went wrong in their own startups. We’d like for you to know the mistakes we’ve saved new business owners from making in their own startups. In turn, we’d like for you to consider these three biggest mistakes new business owners make.
#1. DIY – Not
Unless you are a business professional who understands the ins and outs of starting a business, stick to what you do best (selling whatever you are looking to sell), and hire a professional to set up your business. Do-it-yourself start-up packages may be less expensive in the short run than hiring a professional. Are you willing to gamble with your new venture over a few dollars though? Others may tell you plenty of ways you can save money; after all, with the Internet at your fingertips, there’s no piece of information you can’t get access to, right? Perhaps. However, while you can find information on the internet, you can’t find real-world experience. In other words, people who’ve been there, and done that – correctly. And, no, that’s not your cousin or best friend’s brother. They may have been there, done that. They may have even been successful. However, their business may have been quite different than yours, and what worked for them may not apply to you. You owe it to your dream, your family and your company (and employees!) to get a professional from the start.
#2. Protect What’s Yours
It’s very easy to be trusting when you have many balls in the air. You are so focused on where to hang your shingle and furniture and business cards and your website. We bet you are changing the locks and making sure your new business site has an alarm, right? However, one of the biggest mistakes new business owners make is forgetting to protect the very thing that needs the most protection. Your IP – intellectual property. Again, this requires a legal professional who can make sure your product/service/great idea is protected so no one else can steal it. If it’s worth anything in the market, someone will be looking to make a buck off of it, which is why intellectual property is so valuable. This includes patents, processes, and so on. Proper paperwork protects you, your investment, along with anyone else who does business with you.
#3. Know Where You’re Going to Begin
If you said at the beginning, great. Where’s the beginning? Not knowing the answer to this simple question is one of the biggest mistakes new business owners make. They are so enamored with their idea that they forget to plan. Just like going on a road-trip, you need a map to get you from Point A to Point B. Without a solid plan – a business plan – you have no idea where to go next. Every step you take may or may not be the right one, and you could waste precious time and money. In fact, according to the US Small Business Administration, only about half of all new businesses make it five years or more. As Forbes suggests, however, your odds of making it to the five year mark increase if you can nail a profitable business model from the get go.
It’s true that starting a business, with the correct professionals guiding the way, may cost a few dollars. However, failing to spend those few dollars upfront may cost you everything if you stumble down the road without a safety net. Plus, the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are giving your company the best shot at success is priceless.