Society hasn’t always been so supportive of entrepreneurship. It wasn’t so long ago that a kid who graduated college and decided to go into business for themselves was considered to be doing so because they couldn’t cut it in the job market by most people.
With venture capital being so accessible for new companies, especially in tech, and with the economy doing well in the United States, we’ve seen a break from the traditional belief that young people should be working their way up the corporate ladder as soon as possible as well as a focus on the results of successful entrepreneurs, rather than their path to success.
It’s easy to make mistakes in an environment like this when eager to get your journey started, so do yourself and pay attention to these 4 mistakes that every young entrepreneur should avoid.
1. Being impatient.
Patience is absolutely essential in the early stages of building a company. With the romanticism has shrouded entrepreneurship and the widespread attention that successful entrepreneurs have gotten, it’s not hard for a young entrepreneur to fall into the trap of expecting too much too soon and for too little work.
What all this means for young entrepreneurs is that they don’t have much resistance when it comes to taking the path of building something for themselves, and they often expect that path to be short and straight. Every young entrepreneur should avoid being impatient or they risk wasting their time and fooling themselves into failure.
Impatience can be problematic for two reasons. Starting out with expectations of large numbers of people getting excited about your product, responding to your marketing, or engaging with your content makes for a very rude awakening when you end up with 22 shares on that Facebook post, 6 people on your website, and 1 email address added to your listserv.
After a few weeks of getting results like that and expecting anything more, impatience will set in for many young entrepreneurs and they will lose the desire to continue on.
The opposite is just as dangerous. Sometimes your marketing efforts will do fantastic and produce great results just long enough for you to fool yourself into thinking entrepreneurship is truly as easy and fast as you thought. This happens for a number of reasons, but the result is usually that young entrepreneurs can get impatient when that bit of hype dies down and reality sets in.
The point here is that expecting tremendous results without tremendous and consistent effort over time should be avoided at all costs. Spend less time worrying about the numbers and more time on the product, marketing, and appreciation of the support you’ve generated. By doing this, young entrepreneurs will avoid the mistake of being impatient and build something great for their audience and customers.
2. Students instead of practitioners.
Infinate amounts of instruction and guidance are available through blogs, infographics, books, podcasts, YouTube videos, software, etc. The list of places to take in other people’s lessons goes on and on, and young entrepreneurs should avoid the mistake of spending too much time being students of entrepreneurship instead of being practitioners.
Of course it’s important to be aware of strategies, mistakes to avoid (like these), and to learn about opportunities as a young entrepreneur, but none of that matters unless you actually take action and execute.
Being afraid of hearing the word “no” weather it’s directly said to you from a prospective customer, or indirectly said to you by low attention to the content you put out causes many people to spend so much time trying to create the perfect stuff by learning how others would do it that they never even get a shot at doing it for themselves.
You need to spend some time learning the basics and then get to work on your first failure. What you learn from failing is much more beneficial to you than any how-to guide or entrepreneurship guru could even be.
The lessons are more personal, you start to mold your own strategy on entrepreneurship and think of creative ways to attack it for the next go around. Failing small and learning from it is a better use of your time and more beneficial to your ultimate goals than reading about ways to prevent it.
3. Too sophisticated in their approach.
According to serial entrepreneur Michael Gastauer, founder of WB21, “entrepreneurship is about getting dirty and disruption. Sure, the end result is often clean and proper if it’s successful, but the path to that proper business is not.”
He explains the misconception that you can be successful, especially when starting from nothing, without unconventional and often uncomfortable approaches can be the reason why young entrepreneurs end up being the only one who knows about their great idea.
Big businesses have million dollar marketing budgets, thousands of people to reach out to when they launch new products, and entire teams dedicated to raising awareness around what they sell.
Be prepared to use your personal network to help your idea pick up steam. This can be uncomfortable for some people but it is absolutely necessary and gets easier once you start. What you think about what you have to offer is all that matters at early stages like this.
Don’t be concerned about getting turned down, ignored, or what your personal network will think of your email asking for their support or Facebook message asking to add their email to your business listserv.
Leverage what you have as an individual in order to get your entrepreneurial project started. Do it everywhere you can and without thinking twice about it. Being too sophisticated and pretending that you need to be doing PR the same way that big businesses are doing it is a huge mistake for startups and a mistake that every young entrepreneur should avoid making.
4. Looking for easy ways out.
It’s human nature to want to simplify processes, automate things, and pickup strategies to make their lives easier. Looking for the easy way out is the best thing you can do in some areas of your entrepreneurial journey, and a big mistake in others.
If you’re already getting things started with your first venture, you should already have a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Taking the easy way out is smart when it allows you to focus on your strengths and spend less time on weaknesses.
Things like farming out your logo design because you have no graphic design ability and hiring a professional photographer for your products because you can’t work a camera are good areas to take the easy way out, but certain things should be done by you and done manually, without automation.
While scheduling posts to social media might sound like a great time saver, do so carefully. Your audience will eventually get the feeling that something isn’t quite normal when your content shows up at the same times and in the same format across each platform. This can be damaging to your engagement and hurt your brand.
Sure, buying an email list is faster than building one on your own, but does it get results? Sending generic requests to guest blog to a ton of sites might be faster, but how many say yes? Even targeted lists are nowhere near as helpful to you as a list of people who are truly interested in your brand or products will be.
Avoid the mistake of looking for easy ways out when it comes to things you should be doing with organic leads and you will see more success from the effort you put forth.
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