We are all guilty of at least one of these. But we can always correct our course of action.
It’s year 3 of our business journey. At this point, I could write a book about the mistakes I have made. It has been like college, except I got really good grades in college and it was fairly easy for me in some areas. Self-employment, freelance, small-biz owner life has, on the other hand, has kicked my Latinx a**.
I’ve also had the privilege of working with dozens of founders, small and mid-size founders, and big organizations and I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the crazy.
Here are some common mistakes we hope you can avoid:
Thinking You Should/Can Do Everything Yourself: We know the feeling, you have a small budget or limited investment funds and so you decide you are going to do everything and anything for your business. You become a webmaster, digital marketing exec. payroll, social media manager and everything in between. While this can seem like a cost-saving measure, it can cost you more in the long run in mistakes and efforts that have to be duplicated correctly later.
You can do your own Facebook Ads and throw money out there or hire someone to do it strategically.
Yes, sometimes you have to bootstrap but some things are not worth trying to do yourself. I tried doing my own accounting and ended up with a tangle of receipts that cost us money in the long run. We always ask our clients how many hours they are dedicating to their digital marketing and assess if this is something they can do or if they should outsource it.
2. Overestimating the Importance of Instagram: We love Instagram. But we’ve met with founders who have thousands of followers but are not making sales. It’s true that brands are seeing tremendous growth on this platform. But YOU NEED TO BUILD YOUR LIST, use Google Ad Words, and develop a kick-ass product. Do not build your audience exclusively on a platform that you don’t have full control over.
Instagram is one tool but it’s not the ONLY tool. Instagram should be where you connect and give tidbits of your brand values, products etc. but you should have a website that converts, re-targeting ads and a series of marketing strategies in place.
3. Unless You Have A Trust Fund, Don’t Quit Your Day Job Right Away:We believe in you, we do, but we also know what it’s like to strapped for cash and we don’t want that stress on your shoulders. If you have savings have a realistic assessment of how long that is going to last you. If you have a full-time job that is keeping your business going think strategically about the timing of switching to making your side-hustle your full-time hustle. We want you to dream big but be realistic about what you can handle. I know it seems like people are overnight successes but in reality, you don’t know their situation or how long they have been working behind the scenes.
4. Not Having Sales Goals: You don’t need sales goals of course not, your product is awesome and your website is going to crash from sales and demands for your services(Wink, Wink). We fully hope this happens to you! We believe founders need a goal, the point isn’t to meet the goal but to work as hard as you can to get close. Otherwise, you are just floating in the internet ether. You can’t predict the future of course so let’s be prepared just in case. There is science to this and we recommend you read the book called Profit First for that and then just think BIG. Develop a goal based on what you know about your biz/product for the year and break it down into quarterly goals, and then determine how you will promote your product offerings, products etc. You can start small if your business is new. Look at this document regularly, this will help you start thinking smarter about everything you do.
5. Thinking It’s Going To Be Easy: This is the biggest mistake. Social media makes you think that starting a business is just inspirational quotes, and pictures of salads and Kombucha.
This life isn’t as glamorous as think it is, it’s mostly a bunch of people in their pajamas, and matted hair working a ton of hours.
There is going to be days of elation and excitement and days where you try to remember why you started. This is why when we work with founders we always guide them back to their why. When you know why you are doing this it will help you get through the hard days and sleepless nights.
What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you started your journey?