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10 Common Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make

Published:Monday | September 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Gizelle Riley

Many individuals are taking on the mantle of entrepreneurship and even a few, who have a steady nine-to-five, are trying to make their name known with their hidden talents. The fact is, there are many talented people out there, but it takes much more than just talent to be successful, and it important for aspiring entrepreneurs to have a clear view of what they need to do.

Gizelle Riley shared with Outlook a few common missteps of aspiring entrepreneurs:


1 Trying to do it all on your own


You may not have the option to outsource or hire someone in the early stages, but consider getting an intern or having a trusted friend or family member provide support. Doing everything is a sure path to burnout, which leads to making unnecessary mistakes. It also takes you away from working on the bigger tasks necessary for the growth of your business.


2 Being penny wise and pound foolish


Choose quality and longevity. Say, for instance, you need a machine that will dramatically increase your productivity, but choose to buy it second-hand to save a few dollars. Buying it cheaper may be good in the short term, but you're probably going to have to spend more to replace worn parts. If you bought a slightly more expensive but newer model, you're likely going to get a warranty from the manufacturer and will, therefore, spend less money to maintain it in the long term.


3 Working hard instead of S.M.A.R.T.


Being busy and being result-driven are two completely separate things. If you cannot see tangible results related to your efforts, you're basically like a puppy chasing its tail. Entrepreneurs have to set strategic, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based goals. Having a daily checklist, delegating, or just plain disregarding activities that don't actively support your targets keeps you on track (and maintain sanity).


4 Not being active on social media


This mistake has to be taken with a grain of salt. Being active doesn't mean posting random content like your cat's birthday celebration on your business page. It has nothing to do with your business, and I promise that your audience doesn't care. They care about consistent content that provides value to their lives and being engaged. Be strategic and select the right social networks for your business, and have a content plan along with a management platform to automate your posts.


5 Not having a brand story


Who are you and why should anyone care? Saying you have a business with an amazing product is not enough. A brand story is what sets the narrative for your business - its reason for being. It's the business' values wrapped up in a way that audiences can understand and your ideal client can feel connected to. Without one, you're not going to stand out above the crowd or attract the right people to your business.


6 Not knowing your ideal client


It's important to know who you're serving from the start of your business. This goes hand in hand with researching and testing the market. If you don't know who your ideal client is, how can you serve them in a way that actually meets their wants and needs? New entrepreneurs tend to start with the product in mind - but even if you make the world's best chewing gum, if you don't know who you're selling to, you're wasting your time.


7 Not having a sales funnel


Getting customers through the door requires a clear sales funnel strategy. Also known as a 'revenue funnel', a sales funnel is the process businesses lead entrepreneurs through before they make a sale. It starts with how you build awareness of your product or brand, how you generate interest, how you attract customer to convert them, how you nudge them to make a decision, and how you bring it all home by facilitating them to take action to buy your product. This process is extremely important because it gives you an idea of where prospects are in the buying journey and help you determine if you're nurturing cold leads in sales and marketing campaigns.


8 Being afraid to take risks


Out of the many phrases, my favourite business magnate - Richard Branson - is known for the one I love: 'Screw it, let's do it'. You must definitely have a well-thought-out plan when taking action in your business. However, sometimes you have to follow your gut, take risks, and go for it. If it hasn't been done before, be a pioneer.


9 Not reinvesting in the business


You got a big client and saw a substantial increase in your bank account as a result. When starting out, the shine of coin tends to let entrepreneurs want to splurge on vanity items as a reward for their hard work. The first year in business is typically a make-it-or-break-it year. If you have dreams of scaling your business, the wise thing to do is reinvest and work on its expansion.


10 Not building a legacy


One big mistake entrepreneurs make when starting out is thinking short term. Start with the end in mind - create a vision. Do you want to be in the start-up phase forever? Or do you have dreams of eventually scaling, being listed on the stock exchange, or living a cushy life while your well-oiled machine of a business virtually runs itself? If the latter sounds more appealing (and it should), start putting systems in place early in order to make it a reality.

Mistakes are inevitable, but it's how you handle them that counts.

- Gizelle Riley is a brand storyteller and soulful business coach at She manages communications as the development and communications coordinator for the scale-up business accelerator, Branson Centre Caribbean. Contact: