Pitfalls to Avoid in Starting Your Business

Familiarizing yourself with the more common mistakes new business owners make—and how to avoid them—will help you get off on solid footing.
Guest posting by Sam Marcum. If you need a place to start, Philantech3 Consulting Group offers the following tips to help you get started.

Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Startup

Small businesses often operate on thin margins, so you don’t want to make any missteps during the early startup phase — particularly mistakes that have the potential to cost you money or hurt your company. While some learning curves are inevitable, familiarizing yourself with the more common mistakes new business owners make — and how to avoid them — will help you get off on solid footing.

Failure to Plan

Even a micro business needs a business plan that outlines key operational functions and a bit of forecasting. Small business owners often overlook things like market research, communication vehicles, and customer demographics because they think they don’t need them. The fact of the matter is, having a detailed plan of action in place — one that takes into consideration your cash reserves and your anticipated expenditures and earnings — is critical to establishing your business in a professional way. You can find free templates for business plans online, which you’ll need in advance of applying for funding or opening for business.

Not Getting Legally Established

In addition to planning out your business functions, you need to be legally established. This means having a business license and a taxpayer ID number and being registered with the appropriate entity. A limited liability company, or LLC, can protect you against some forms of liability, give you flexibility, and make it easier to file at tax time. You can do the paperwork yourself, hire an attorney to do it, or use a formation company to ease the process and handle the details for you.

Doing Business with Friends and Family

While it can seem like a good idea to go into business with people you like and trust, many failed business owners will say they lost their businesses and their relationships following this theory. Being friends with someone doesn’t mean they’re a good business partner, and mixing money and personal feelings can be a recipe for disaster. How do you keep confidence? Decide on operational approaches? Manage employees? Use great caution when considering a friendship-partnership — and if you do take the plunge, get all terms of the arrangement in writing to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Refusing to Ask for Help

Everyone needs help eventually, and reaching out is not a sign of weakness but of character. If you’re facing a legal quagmire, hire an attorney. If you’re concerned about payroll, invest in software tools that offer automatic scheduling, time tracking and tax calculating, in addition to connecting with a reputable payroll service. If your business needs managed IT help as well as cybersecurity services, enlist the help of a group like Philantech 3 Consulting Group.

Also, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. Even if you aren’t ready to hire part- or full-time payrolled employees, utilize freelancers and independent contractors as necessary to get you through the early days. Managing your own time is also critical. You’ll likely be working long hours, but you have to balance your schedule to ensure you don’t get burned out, or both you and your business will suffer.

Mindfully Stay the Course

Startups require a significant investment of time, money, energy, and commitment. Give yourself time to get established, and don’t be thrown off course if you have a slow start. Businesses take time to build, and if you’ve planned appropriately and are managing your finances well, commit to a certain time period before re-evaluating your path. Utilize all of the resources at your disposal during this period. Chambers of Commerce and other industry associations often offer free consultations, professional development, networking opportunities, and even fundraising opportunities — on top of advice in the early days of establishing your company.

Starting a business can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. Identifying and avoiding potential pitfalls can help ensure you get off to a good start and set yourself on a path to long-term success and prosperity.

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