10 Mistakes People Make When Starting a Business

Mistakes People Make When Starting a Business1.  Spending too little.  Naturally as a start-up you would expect to keep your costs to a minimum, yet being too frugal can actually prevent overall efficiency. Ensure the use is functional and essential; products are only worth investing in if they will directly benefit the productivity and efficiency of the business.

2.  Letting optimism overrule reality.  Don’t allow your perceptions to be greater than what is reality. Having a positive outlook is important and will undoubtedly help you to succeed, but allowing positivity to cloud your judgment can have dangerous consequences. Be realistic with your plans, set achievable goals you know can be fulfilled in order to avoid disappointment.

3.   Over-complicate processes.  Streamline the running of your business by reviewing your processes periodically and continually look for ways to reduce costs, make things faster and more time efficient. Automating tasks such as timesheets and log books can save hours of time and ultimately money. Finding the right CRM system or if you are a business that runs a mobile workforce, using a vehicle tracking system can save business owners lots of time and in turn increase productivity and profits.

4.  Ignore advice.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there’s always more to learn, so what better place to start than learning from other people who have been in your position. Taking advice from others might just stop you from making a bad decision or give you inspiration as to a better more efficient way of practise. But don’t expect miracles, no matter how hard you try or what your level of experience may be, mistakes are still made, learning from these will only help you to develop.

5.   Make illogical decisions.  Many people allow their emotional attachment to their business overrule what should be a logical decision. Think with your head and not your heart; focus on the figures and the detail, as only calculated and rational decision making will result in success.

6.  Underestimate the importance of relationships.  Never ignore the importance of a strong client relationship; understanding what it is your clients want will ensure you meet their needs, which is essential to the success of your product. Trust is the key to any successful and long term relationship, if the client believes in the product and who is indeed selling it, they are more likely to buy.

7.  Work work work!  Without hard work you won’t see results, yet a work life balance is essential to the success of any business, if you run yourself in to the ground, your business will only go with you. Don’t expect miracles. Working towards achievable goals will help create a structure to your role, giving you a clear direction and keeping you on track.

8.  Negative cash flow.  Keeping a strict note of all your ingoing’s and outgoing’s is essential to know where you are, over two thirds of business start-ups fail within the first year, the primary cause being poor/negative cash flow management. If you’re spending more money than you’re receiving, you could be in trouble.

9.  Poor planning.  As the sayings goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. This is true of business, knowing your stuff is essential, researching your product, target market and competitors is vital to your understanding and ultimate planning with reference to your business plan.

10.  Putting your needs before your customers.  If you don’t have what it is the client requires, they won’t buy, meaning you don’t have a business at all. You may feel you know what it is your customers want, but failing to see to what your market research tells you, may leave you with a product that no one wishes to buy.

Amy RussellAbout the Author:  Amy Russell is a Marketing Executive at Leeds-based vehicle tracking firm RAM Tracking. RAM Tracking has recently been shortlisted as a finalist for The Croner Employer of the Year Award at the National Business Awards 2012 in the UK.


  1. says

    Indeed it is a continuous challenge for me – an overwhelmingly optimist addicted to smiles – to focus on reality instead of potential. Well it used to be until the reality of who I was dealing with overcame my optimism in the venue of non-payment.

    I have found that many get engaged in my optimism and often are so engaged that there are not actively listening to what I am saying. In business communication is essential and time is valuable. I dont want to invest 500% of me in your business before you are committed to me and my services.

    My biggest challenge is with women. The men listen for the “bottom line”. I love teaching and nurturing but I also love earning a living. Overall there are many fine lines in business. Thank you for this knowledge as it will offer great boundaries in the future…..starting today!

    All the best!

  2. says

    I think we all commit some of these from time to time in some fashion but it helps to be aware that they are in fact mistakes that can hurt your business. Here’s one that’s not on the list that technology startups tend to make. Focusing too much on product development and not sales. The quickest path to wasted time and resources!

    Excellent list!

  3. says

    The mistakes are truly, a part and parcel, of the startup’s schedule, which needs a total avoidance, if progress should be expected.
    New hands should learn, and effect, the ethics of business relationship, to keep a versatile presence, and determination of purpose.
    Thanks, for the post.

  4. says

    Spending too little upfront and not placing enough emphasis on cash flow are all too common and almost always result in serious consequences. When starting, it’s ideal if the initial expenses are as low as possible, so some beneficial items are neglected.

    When the time comes when you realize that extra contingency is needed is usually around the same time it hits home that cash flow is not strong enough at the start to make up for it and struggles occur.

    Good points in this list.

  5. says

    I run a business offline but believe me I am guilty of most of these mistakes. Hand up. I better improve now before it is too late . Great post.

  6. says

    #8 stood out to me. Cash flow management is a crucial part of building a successful company. In addition to all the other responsibilities that come along with entrepreneurship, the process of improving cash flow is a week-to-week (and sometimes a day-to-day) task. Whether you use accounting software or an old-fashion ledger pad, it’d be a mistake to slack off in monitoring cash flow.

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