Entrepreneurship is not easy. It is not, and never will be for the faint-hearted. It takes a strong and indomitable spirit to make it in business. Many have tried and failed, and likewise many have tried and succeeded. What is the difference between the two groups?
These are some of the mistakes that led to failures, and then success. They advise you to expect anything, and to be well-prepared for the tough times that may lie ahead. Tough times, they say, don’t last - but tough people do.
1. Lack of Documentation
Most people get into business with friends or spouses. The general consensus is that the trust is mutual and obvious. This is the worst mistake you can ever make as an entrepreneur. Trust is all well and good, but circumstances change. When they change, it is better to be prepared. To be forearmed for any eventuality will save you a lot of trouble and damaged relationships.
Before starting a business with a close partner, the wisest idea would be to have everything in writing. This is not to suggest that you have no trust, but that business should be kept separate from the personal. Business is about making profit. You have to document what it is that each partner brings into the business, in terms of finances and other assets, be it tangible or otherwise.
Documenting this makes it clear what is expected of each person. Should there be disagreements, there should be laid down procedures as to how the conflicts should be solved. There is a tendency of one partner taking advantage of the personal relationship, and not putting in as much work as is expected. Everyone should pull their weight regardless of the relationship outside the business. Thus, the golden rule: put everything in writing!
Adapting is crucial for any entrepreneur. No matter what the situation is, you have to learn to adapt to it. When your big idea fails, it is imperative you learn how to roll with it. Learn how to move with the times. Being rigid and unyielding will get you nowhere as an entrepreneur.
Examine the failure in detail. Is it because you are using an outdated method of doing things? Is it possible to change your style, and adopt a more modern method of operation?
Technology changes every day and it has revolutionized the way people do business. Social media has become the new way to work. It is easier and cheaper than ever to reach people. If you are stuck in the past, you will have more failures than successes.
3. Not knowing your judge
It is important to always know who your final judge is. You cannot, and should not assume because it is your business, you have the right to do as you please. Your business is about your clientele. Before you make any decisions, you should do your research.
Entrepreneurship is about finding a vacuum and filling it. Once you have discovered what your niche is, do all the research you can before taking any steps. Ask questions - find out what your customers want and how they want it. Make your decisions based on those findings.
If you do things blindly, failure will be sure to follow. Know who your consumers are. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you buy your product? Would you enjoy your services? If not, why? Look at these questions from every possible angle, and you’re far more likely to succeed.
4. Having the wrong partner
Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of not choosing their partners wisely. This can make or break your venture. Successful entrepreneurs advise you to make joint ventures, rather than partnerships.
When looking for a partner, consider the people who complement you and your talents. If you are a whiz in IT and you are poor at handling money, pair up with a partner who is clever with cash. This ensures equal distribution of work put into the business.
Joint ventures have a timeline, with a start and end date. Expectations are clear, with each person knowing what is expected of them. You should always make sure the sum of the parts is more than the results. Never partner with someone who has your exact set of qualifications. You will not be adding any value to the business. Different skill sets will add better value and grow the business extensively.
You can get people with different skill sets through freelancing sites such as freelancer.com.
5. An indomitable mentality
“Mental attitude plays a far more important role in a person’s success or failure than mental capacity.” These words were spoken by Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn. This is by far the best way to sum it up. If you have a bad attitude towards failure, then you will never succeed.
Failure is refusing to give up, no matter how many times you fall down. Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, failed 1,000 times, but said, “I did not fail, I just found 1,000 ways that did not work.” This is the entrepreneurial spirit.
Failure does not mean you should give up - learn lessons from it. Find out why you failed, try again and improve on your idea. Entrepreneurship means trying again and again until you find the right way. If every entrepreneur gave up, we would have no success stories.
When you venture into entrepreneurship, you have to have a will as strong as steel. Many people fall by the way because they were not prepared or passionate enough. Passion will be what keeps you going when the going gets tough. It is little wonder you are advised to venture into entrepreneurship in a field that you have a passion for. That way, when things get rough, you still have the drive to keep at it.
6. Not outsourcing
The one trap you must never fall into is to try and do everything yourself. Any business, especially a start-up, needs a lot of help. You cannot do everything on your own. Most entrepreneurs consider outsourcing as an expense, which in essence, it is.
When starting a business, you should consider all possible scenarios. Know that, inasmuch as outsourcing is an expense, it’s an expense you should plan for. While venturing into business, you should know your limitations. Know what you can and can’t do.
Depending on the size of your business, plan accordingly. The most challenging task to outsource is IT. You need systems in place, and you probably have no idea how to go about it. It does not make sense to try and do it yourself. Consult a professional who will charge you a fee, and do the job properly. This leaves you to do other things like concentrate on your core business - making money.
Today you can outsource services for some of your projects on sites such as freelancer.com.
In the long run, you will be glad you took the initiative to outsource. It saves you time and, ultimately, money. Entrepreneurs who have made it in business tell of the regrets they have for not making outsourcing a priority. They wasted so much time running around trying to do everything themselves.
Know your priorities. Once you have your priorities in place, then you are far better equipped to do business. Failure is part of being an entrepreneur.
Learn how to adapt to situations and move with the times. You cannot do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Having the right partner matters a lot, as does documenting everything you agree on. Remember, entrepreneurship is not for the weak. You should expect several false starts before you finally get traction.
Are you an entrepreneur? Have you experienced failure? How did you turn it around and make a success of your business? Tell us about your experiences - leave a comment in the comment box below!