Are you about to launch a business? Making mistakes is common. Adjei made plenty of mistakes during his earlier start-ups as a novice. Some of the start-up mistakes held him back and cost a lot over the long run. With his permission, I’m about to share some of the mistakes to avoid when starting a small business.
Adjei knew that start-up is like moving a mountain. Being an entrepreneur, he had to wear multiple caps. He needed to deal with finance, recruitment, sales and marketing etc. It wasn’t so easy to distinguish his business from the vast number of competitors. He was and still is, extremely talented and knows the ins and outs of his business, but like many novices, he made mistakes.
What are the mistakes Adjei made before he had a significant breakthrough in his business career? Let’s explore:
Mistake #1: Spent too much time on business planning and delayed his launch
Like Adjei, many entrepreneurs do the ground work for their businesses properly. They do wonderful analysis of the products, pricing, market, competitor, target audience and financing.
The first mistake Adjei made despite his talent, was that he delayed the business launch. He waited almost a year before launching the business due to several personal reasons. By the time he launched the business, wedding trends had totally changed. His website, catalogs and business ideas were no longer relevant, the venue and hiring charges had gone up and he was unable to meet all the unexpected expenses.
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When there is a delay in business launch several avoidable things can go wrong. You may miss out on products, pricing and even the target audience you analysed and other businesses may edge you out.
Planning is great, being well prepared and relevant is even better. So, don’t take too much time planning. Put your plans into action and launch the business without too much delay.
Mistake #2: Lacked Focus in His Business Goals
Being a great wedding planner, Adjei loved designing wedding dresses, conceptualising color themes, selecting flowers and venue hiring etc. So, Adjei’s primary business goal was wedding planning but the business did not perform as well as he expected because he kept getting sidetracked.
Because of his creative flair, some of his well-meaning supporters wanted him to design jewellery for them. So he changed his focus to designing jewelery. Since this wasn’t the market he had researched for, he was ill-prepared and the result was a minimal cash flow from just those supporters. He totally lost focus on the primary business goal and that cost him dearly.
When you start a business, be aware that there are many other attractive opportunities vying for your attention. Those opportunities might not relate to your core. But when your initial business model is not as successful as you expected, it’s easy to succumb to the pressure.
To avoid this, be patience. Plan your financing properly, do your due diligence and trust the process. Reaching for other opportunities that will only favour you for a short period of time is harmful and can leave you discouraged. Don’t do it.
Mistake #3: Overly Rigid About His Ideas
Adjei was smart and savvy. But, he loved and was so stubbornly attached to his own ideas that he did not accept other opinions about his business. He was determined to launch his business in November because he thought he could capitalize on the sentiments of the upcoming Christmas holidays. When his colleague reminded him that most people were preferring to get married in the cooler African months of June/July, he dismissed the idea. He shouldn’t have. November is so hot in the country he lives in that most people were deferring their weddings to earlier in the year.
One of the biggest mistakes that we all sometimes make, is so strongly clinging to our ideas and inspirations that we block out valid and valuable idea from others. Be open to other’s suggestions; it does not mean you accept everything. Becoming a booming success is an innovative idea away and you have to be realistic that that idea might not come from you. You won’t be right all the time, so take sound advice from the right person. Objectively analyse the information and if the advice truly adds value, accept it and change your perception. Listen to experts in your field.
Mistake #4: Forgot about Branding
Adjei developed a good business model but failed to create a brand for his business. He had the huge misconception that branding is only for big businesses. That misconception could not be further from the truth and it cost him dearly.
Branding makes your product or service stand out from that of your competitors because it is attached to a personality or name that has presented itself in a particular way. It builds an emotional connection between you and your customers. Analyse what your target customers want and align your product towards their needs but first, create a brand so that your product has a compelling face to it.
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Mistake #5: Ignored Customer Feedback
Adjei launched his business having rightly decided that customers would like his wedding concepts. When a few of his initial customers suggested that some of his designs were outdated, he rationalized it by deciding that the customers just didn’t want to pay up or were being difficult. Word got out that he didn’t take feedback well. And word of mouth hurt his business.
Ignoring feedback or not listening to comments from customers is amongst the biggest mistakes to avoid when starting a small business. You may start your business thinking that because a few customers loved one of the unique features of your product, all your customers will. That is simply not true. Listen to your individual customers and conduct surveys to find out what they like or dislike about your product. If there is any negative feedback do your best to rectify it. Even baseless accusations against your product should be analysed because they often contain a hint of truth and can provide a learning curve for personal development. The old adage “the customer is always right” should be your go-to mantra.
Making mistakes during start-up is fairly common, but some of the mistakes mentioned above can have disastrous results. Be smart, learn from Adjei’s mistakes because he sure did. After his first tough year in business, he re-evaluated, spotted his mistakes and with the help of a solid team, went on to be quite the wedding success.
What is the biggest mistake you made when you started your small business? Share it with us.