3 Startup Mistakes That Are Easy To Make

Here's a look at three mistakes to avoid when building your small business.

Growing up, I always admired Michael Jordan (a professional basketball player turned entrepreneur and owner of the Charlotte Hornets). In my opinion, he is the best basketball player of all time.

When he was playing professional basketball, I never imagined him making mistakes. But recently, I came across a quote where he said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

“Air” Jordan couldn’t have said it better. Even the greatest fail in some aspects of their career or business along their way to success. Although MJ’s sentiment is spot on, here are three mistakes to avoid when building your business.


  1. Assuming Fast (and Big) Growth is Best

    Many entrepreneurs believe quickly growing their company, with numbers and employees, is always a great thing and will make them more successful. But this isn’t always the case. Many times people learn the hard way and fail fast after thinking, “If I have a lot of people in-house I will be more profitable and successful.” They fail financially and reap smaller profits because of all the other costs involved.

    As a small business owner, it often makes more sense to build strategic partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships. This allows you to keep overhead costs lower and reduce the stress of numerous employees. Collaborating with other businesses might offer more back-end support, allowing you to do what you do best, while, at the same time, utilizing the strengths of partner companies. Growing your business with key partners is often way more profitable than growing fast from within.

  2. Never Saying “No”

    As a small business owner, it’s always tough to say (or use) the word “No.” As you start your business, you want to be everywhere and be everything to potential customers and clients. It’s very hard not to do this when you start out. If your business is somewhat successful, even at an early stage, you will be asked — many times — to coffees, lunches, and events. However, at some point you have to say no to some people, free services and advice or meetings in order to continue to move forward with your business.

    Meanwhile, you must learn how to say no to potential clients, or projects, you don’t want. I understand it is hard to say no to a decent paycheck and short-term reward, but if you don’t, you will regret it. Saying no to projects or clients your heart isn’t into, or your mind isn’t truly focused on, will allow you to work on opportunities you really enjoy. This will allow you to leverage your strengths even more — hence you will produce much better work. Walking away from something in the short-term will help you build the portfolio you want over the long-term.

  3. Planning Too Much

    New entrepreneurs often want to plan out every little minutia detail — desiring to control everything and make sure it’s exactly aligned with the original plan. As a result, you may find yourself spending all of your time planning the future instead of executing and being mindful of the present.

    Why do so many small business plans fail? They fail because too much time is spent on process and planning, while little time is dedicated (if any) to execution. Harvard Business School research indicates that 90 percent of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. While Fortune Magazine reports that 70 percent of CEO failures come not as a result of poor strategy, but from poor execution. As a small business owner, remember to iterate and to not hesitate. Execution trumps devising another elaborate, time-consuming process or plan every time.

Life is a journey, not a destination. Mistakes are going to happen along the way. Always remember: if you don’t experience mistakes you will never learn what success can be. Don’t dwell on your business failures; instead, learn from your mistakes, be resilient and persevere.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Jason Grill is the founder of JGrill Media where he consults on media relations, public affairs and strategies and government relations. Under same umbrella, he works in the media as a local and national writer and contributor, radio host and television analyst and commentator. He is also the co-founder of Sock 101. A version of this post originally appeared here. Connect with @JasonGrill on Twitter. A version of this article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.


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