Entrepreneurs are an independent group of people. Trying and failing, are part of the territory, and accepted, as such. However, by avoiding upcoming mistakes, you can position yourself to keep moving ahead, instead of taking a few steps back. Even though you feel your situation is different, or that it could never happen to you, experience talks and the smart entrepreneur listens.
Never Hire a Relative
You can choose your friends but you can’t pick your relatives. This statement alone, should be enough to convince you that relatives make the worst employees in the world. But how many entrepreneurs put themselves through the torture, anyway? It doesn’t matter how educated or experienced a brother, cousin or aunt may be, 99% of the time, it spells disaster. You will always be the sandy-haired little kid that gave your mom a hard time, or the rebel that left home with little regard for the family. An employer may have to win the respect of employees, but it will never happen with a relative.
Leave your Personal Life at Home
No matter what type of problems are brewing at home, never discuss these matters with your employees. It is only human nature that the people that work for you will want to know how you live, but don’t give in. This type of slip can expose your vulnerability to personal choices and become a tool against you. For instance, if an employee were to discover that you and your wife had a special restaurant that you visited, on occasion, do not be surprised if you would found that same employee at the table next to you, one evening. Although there is nothing harmful about an employee wanting to share the same restaurant as you, it can soon make your personal space feel invaded.
You are Never as Smart as you Think
It takes guts and a lot of self-confidence to enter the world of business. One important lesson that everyone learns, quickly, is that they are not as intelligent as once perceived. When you are an entrepreneur, not only do you need to deal with marketing, accounting, advertising, computer software, and legal issues, but you also have to be a project manager to bring everything together. Is it really possible to be a professional in all of these areas? Of course not. These are all critical and necessary areas in any business and too little knowledge can be costly. Don’t think for a minute that you can fake your way through the tough problems or that you know more than you actually do.
Finding the Right Professional
An accountant and an attorney will become necessary at some point in your start-up operations. Start looking before you hit crunch time so you are able to hire a professional with confidence. One of the biggest mistakes that an entrepreneur can make, is hiring a friend of a friend. Prepare a list of the qualifications needed and do not deviate. The longevity, reputation and a list of past and present clients, is a good place to start. Many new business owners make the mistake of hiring someone by first impressions. Not all accountants or attorneys have a sparkling personality, so put your feel good sense aside when looking for someone who can get the job done.
Designing a Schedule
90% of entrepreneurs fail due to a lack of commitment. If you have a home office, it can be easy to become distracted. Integrating personal business, or taking a break, that turns into hours, is so easy to do when you have no one but yourself monitoring your time. Daytime planners are essential, not just for keeping appointments, but also keeping your work schedule on track. It is not easy to fall into a structured way of life, but essential in the world of entrepreneurship. Fill every minute of the day with projects, marketing or study and never tell yourself that it can wait. Learn to rearrange if something personal has to be addressed, but always make up the time.
Expecting Too Much, Too Fast
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your business. Too many entrepreneurs set their sights too high, and begin to lose steam as one by one, their goals are not met. If you are not willing to start slow and build a solid base, entrepreneurship may not be for you. It is much better to set your goals lower and to build a firm and lasting business. Plan small celebrations with each quarterly goal you achieve. Take your family or employees out for lunch, and watch the anticipation grow in everyone around you as the end of each quarter nears.
Keep you Hand out of the Till
This piece of advice should be a no-brainer, but continues to kill off small businesses each year. Profits begin to roll in and you get over-confident that the trend will continue. What happens when repairs are needed, or there is a slump in sales? That money you earned will be a blessing, but only if it is available. Taking profits out of a company before it has reached, at least a 2 year-mark, is a serious mistake. Ask the entrepreneurs of yesterday, why they had to fold, and you will hear this same scenario, time and time again.
If some of these real pictures are enough to scare you away from living your dream, they should. Entrepreneurship is not an easy life, but one that you can adjust to by avoiding the mistakes of others.