I’ve spent the last couple of years interviewing successful entrepreneurs and sharing their stories online. I asked questions that not only helped me understand how they started their businesses, but also how they garnered success.
One the most important questions I ask when interviewing successful entrepreneurs is:
“What are the top three mistakes you made launching your business?”
To my surprise, most of them have made very similar business mistakes. Based on my findings, here are the top three mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a business.
Business Mistake #1: Starting Too Late
This is, by far, the most popular regret mentioned by entrepreneurs I have interviewed. They all wished that they had started much earlier. Although they all had different reasons for why they waited, the majority of their reasons included: fear of failure, lack of belief and insufficient knowledge.
Considering how most people think that starting a business is all about having money, I am a bit surprised that none of them listed “money” as their reason for a late launch. Some of them even said they only became a success because they had no other choices. So, in a way, not having money worked in their favor, not against them.
Business Mistake #2: Not Asking for Feedback
Another common mistake entrepreneur’s mention is not asking for customer feedback. Many said that listening to customers’ needs is a big contributor to their success.
As an entrepreneur you don’t want to get caught in your own ideas too much. You have to be willing to listen to customers and take notes. This makes perfect sense because in the end, you are building a product for your customers, not for yourself.
Business Mistake #3: Shiny Object Syndrome
When asked about top business mistakes, a vast majority of entrepreneurs said they spent too much time worrying about things that were not important.
A business is much like a puzzle; there are lots of bits and pieces to put together. The trick is to find the most important things to work on. Think of the tasks that will take you to your next milestone, instead of adding more irrelevant offerings.
Focusing on goals, like finding your first 100 customers, will not only bring in revenue, but it will also give you proof of concept. With that, you’ll have a better chance to find the right business model.
Business Mistake #4: Scaling Big, Way Too Fast
We all would like to run billion dollar companies, but very few entrepreneurs will get to that level. However, I believe that most of us can start and run successful multimillion dollar businesses.
There is nothing wrong with starting small. All the big giants started, at some point, very small. Starting small will give you time to learn the market and your customers. Mistakes are inevitable, so it’s better to make them while a company is still small.
Business Mistake #5: Too Much Time Spent Raising Money
Yes, having capital is a really good thing when it comes to starting a business. Cash flow will make your life easier and you can grow much faster. However, a lot of the entrepreneurs feel they spent way too much time and energy worrying about money.
They said that raising capital took valuable time away from doing the things that mattered most. Things like: building a great product, fostering a great team, providing excellent customer service and increasing sales.
In conclusion, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re an entrepreneur (or aspire to be one), and you’ve made some of these mistakes too. But no matter how many things you got wrong, just remember—you only need to get a few things right.
This article has been edited and condensed.