Nobody said running a business was easy, but it can certainly be made easier. Knowing the common pitfalls made by business owners can help you avoid having to constantly dodge bullets on your road to entrepreneurship.
This isn’t about marketing mistakes or financial fiascos, but everyday business decisions that can make or break your startup. Here are 5 entrepreneurship mistakes that are common in startups.
1. Over-promising and under-delivering on a product
Launching a product is exciting, and it’s easy to be tempted to talk up your product to lure customers into making a purchase. But if those customers don’t see the results you’re promising, then you’ll not only lose them but will end up killing the reputation of your business at the same time.
Not delivering on a promise made to your customers is just as bad in business as it is in general life. Over-promising isn’t always intentional, but if you don’t have the results to back it up, then you’re better off not saying anything at all.
Eager as you may be to get your product in the hands of consumers, wait until the time is right. This will help you to avoid making bold statements and promises that you’re not 100% sure you can deliver on.
2. Not looking after their mental health
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur is to prioritize your business over your own mental health. Whether it’s pulling all-nighters, succumbing to the stresses of startup life, or beating yourself up for things going wrong, it’s easy to fall victim to the pressures of being an entrepreneur.
So it’s no surprise that a recent study from the University of California found that entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to suffer from mental illness than the average American.
Choosing wellness overworking might seem counterintuitive when there’s a perpetual to-do list to get through, but remember that the success of your business is dependent on your mental health.
The last thing you need as an entrepreneur is to end up with burnout or exhaustion and forced to take time off work. Your mental health is an investment in your business, and taking the time to sleep well, eat right, exercise, and enjoy life outside of work will only help you thrive in the long run.
3. Prioritizing sales over relationship building
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur is to ignore your customer base in favor of selling more products. This will help to encourage word-of-mouth marketing, which is why more customers these days are “turned off” by pushy sales methods and prefer “authenticity” instead.
Take the time to respond to customers on social media personally, address issues quickly and thoroughly, and make your customers feel prioritized. In doing so, you’ll find that the sales will follow naturally.
4. Setting impossible goals
Starting a business and goal-setting go hand-in-hand, but setting goals and setting yourself up for failure are two very different things. While failing is inevitable, and sometimes even encouraged in the entrepreneurial community, your business can’t afford to have you failing all the time.
Your goals and objectives should be attainable, realistic, and within reach. While it’s always important to aim high and try to reach for the stars, you don’t want to set impractical goals that leave you with low morale and a sense of failure.
That’s why it is important to create SMART goals and make sure that these are actually attainable. This will help you to maintain forward progression, and make you feel like you’re en route to success.
5. Not offloading some of their responsibilities
Your startup is your baby, and sometimes you can’t bear the thought of trusting someone else to take over certain tasks. But as your business grows, you need to start delegating tasks to others.
A big mistake many entrepreneurs make is refusing to offload some of their responsibilities to others, trying to take on too much and then either burning out or performing poorly.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is to learn how to outsource your biggest pain points to others. For example, if you hate writing Google Ads, find someone who’s good at it and outsource the task to them.
In that way, you’ll be able to offload things that “eat into your time” and focus on things that add more value to your business. A great example of this is Noah Kagan, who launched a very simple landing page and deal with Reddit to validate AppSumo.
Under-delivering on a product is a sure-fire way to lose those leads that you have worked so hard to get. That’s why getting customers can be one thing, but keeping them is another.
As a result, sometimes it can be better to “take a step back” from your business, observe what is going on, identify weaknesses in strategy, then look at ways to resolve issues that allow you to achieve more with less.
Luke Fitzpatrick is a Forbes contributor and a guest lecturer at Sydney University—in his past, he worked for startups in both South Korea and Australia.