Common Mistakes When Starting a Business

female business owner with tablet
female business owner with tablet

New business owners approach the idea of starting their own company with unparalleled enthusiasm in the world of small businesses. Whether the cash flow for the new business is venture capital, bootstrapped, or borrowed, many first-time business owners make the same common mistakes at the outset and carry them forward as their businesses grow.

There’s good news, though—you can avoid these critical errors by course correcting at the beginning of your business, reaching out to the appropriate advisors, and running a business that can flow with marketplace changes.

Consider avoiding these three main small business mistakes as you prepare to launch your next business venture.

Table of Contents

A Great Business Idea With No Business Plan
Failing to Protect Intellectual Property
Entering the Social Media Marketing Slump Unprepared

If your idea doesn’t have a structure and a way to scale, the necessary legal provisions in place to work with contractors and other businesses, and doesn’t have a marketing plan to encourage momentum, your business could be at risk due to common small business mistakes.

A Great Business Idea With No Business Plan

Have you already hatched a fantastic business idea and done market research with your target audience? If so, you probably feel the excitement of your potential customers, inspiring more energy to propel you forward faster. However, some of the biggest mistakes you can make are to charge ahead before having a solid business plan or getting all your company finances in order first.

All businesses should have a business plan to guide the growth and sustainment of the business. A business plan should cover key details such as:

  • Target audience and customers’ needs
  • Existing competition
  • Startup capital, financial projections, and self-sufficiency plans for business finances
  • The roles of each co-founder or founding staff member

The Small Business Association (SBA) provides free coaching, mentorship, and resources to help you responsibly launch your business. Connect with a local business expert to avoid common small business mistakes and common startup mistakes through mentorship.

Failing to Protect Intellectual Property

Another mistake entrepreneurs make in their first year is charging ahead without the appropriate legal documentation. In addition to ensuring you are operating your business legally by filing the appropriate S-Corp or LLC paperwork with your state, you should also consider protecting your idea with a patent or trademark.

Especially if you’re a one-person operation looking to outsource some of the more time-consuming work, you should also invest in legal counsel to protect your hard work through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), which protect you and any contract workers you engage for business services.

Entering the Social Media Marketing Slump Unprepared

Have you ever observed the lifecycle of a successful crowdfunding campaign? Like most marketing campaigns, crowdfunding campaigns face a marketing slump after their initial launch period. This can feel quite discouraging, and it’s worse when new entrepreneurs fail to plan for it.

A social media marketing slump looks like a plateau in engagement, pre-orders, or sales. You can re-energize your campaign by:

  • Planning a special offer, which you can release shortly after the plateau begins
  • Balancing paid campaigns with your organic content strategy
  • Encouraging prospective customers to sign up for your email list early on so you can re-engage them when needed
  • Providing a new type of content or launching an influencer campaign after your slump is projected to begin
  • Thinking about repeat sales before you even begin marketing

When you have an ideal business idea and put together your first marketing plan, the rush of entrepreneurship can make you feel like you can do it all. Startup culture, lifestyle, and fellow entrepreneurs might make it look that way on Instagram, too — but successful companies are built on market research, staff that can pivot to accommodate business needs, and a business model that stands the test of market changes over time.