Most people are quick to tell you exactly what you “must” do when starting a business. But often, knowing what you shouldn’t do can be even more useful.
Here are 9 things you should never do:
1. Hide in a Cave
Put yourself out there: networking is one of the most valuable actions you can take. It’s much too tempting to lock yourself in your office and spend all of your time on your business. However, this is doing yourself and your business a disservice. Get out of the office; go to meetings, networking events, and workshops. This provides not only a learning opportunity but also a chance to make connections and a breath of fresh air.
2. Tell No One
While you’re out taking advantage of the world beyond your cave, make sure to spread the word about your business. This is not the time to be shy or bashful; you should be loud and proud of the work you’re doing and the business you’re building. Business cards are a simple yet effective way to get your information out there. Send out emails, post frequently on social media, make phone calls, and even send out text blasts as promotions.
Events are another great way to network and draw people to your business. Sharing these events posts on social media is a great way to keep spreading the word.
3. Be Unaware of Your Perspective Customers/Competitors
There is no way to sell your product effectively if you don’t understand who will buy it or who is competing with you. Market research is an extremely necessary part of laying the groundwork for a successful business. Define your niche and make sure you have a way to stand out from the competition. If you’re starting a business, you have most likely noticed a deficiency in the market – capitalize on your intuition, but be willing to do the proper research or else you will miss out on opportunities down the road.
4. Spend your money foolishly
When starting a business, you should be counting every penny. Charging personal expenses to your new business should never be an option. Stretch your dollar as far as possible and avoid falling into the trap of throwing all your resources into consultants, sources that promise to buy customers, legal services you could do yourself (or wait a while to take on), and expensive office space. If you do have office space, buy the most inexpensive furniture possible – there’s no sense in spending excessive funds on frivolous expenditures. Zack Hack: Try everything yourself first: for example, here’s a great free online accounting service.
This article gives a great breakdown about estimating potential start-up costs.
5. Do It All Yourself
Spreading yourself too thin can end up sacrificing the quality of your product. In the earliest stages, you will want to keep an eye on everything. But remember that as you grow, you have to trust your employees to take on their own projects or else you can’t ever expand. If you need help and don’t know where to find it, look into temp agencies. Often, they provide a ‘temp-to-hire’ service, so you can make sure they fit smoothly into your business.
6. Hire the Wrong People
This goes hand in hand with doing it all yourself. Failing to hire people you trust means that you will take on too much and key things will begin to fall through the cracks. Arguably even worse, bad employees cost you valuable money and time. Every employee is an ambassador for your product, and the wrong ambassadors can put a bad image on your whole brand.
7. Fail to Complete the Proper Paperwork
Paperwork is intimidating, but failing to do the correct paperwork will land you in legal trouble that will be much worse. Make sure you do the proper filings with the SSC to register your business in your state, get a city business license, and establish an EIN name (which is the equivalent of a social security number for businesses). Another thing to consider is setting up a bank account. Zack Hack: worried about money? Set card limits to smaller amounts and ask for net terms on everything (this means that you get something today but pay later – be smart about this and use the extra time to plan and save). Check every bank’s rates, returns, and rewards in order to find the best possible option to grow your money.
The SSC has all of the resources you’ll need to get your paper-work done.
8. Refuse to Ask for Help
Don’t be too stubborn or too proud to ask for help. Mentors provide valuable advice and opportunities for your business. Also, companies like Hatch offer information and resources from a fresh and experienced perspective. Don’t miss out on the chance to learn from people who might know more than you. However, be careful not to fall into money traps. If someone is charging you incredible sums of money for advice: look elsewhere. Don’t let something meant to be helpful turn into a crippling expenditure.
9. Take Advice from the Wrong People
Nay-sayers have no place in your business. If you believe in yourself and your project, then don’t listen to anyone who only has negative things to say. There is a key difference between accepting healthy criticism and ignoring people who aren’t supportive. Asking the wrong people important questions can be detrimental, so find someone that you trust and respect in order to take their advice seriously.