6 Things That Catch New Entrepreneurs Out - And How To Avoid Them

11 Apr, 2018 Self employed
6 Things that Catch New Entrepreneurs Out - and How to Avoid Them

Irrespective of how upbeat you are when you first set out on your entrepreneurial journey, how amazing your idea and the value it provides, you’re bound to come up against obstacles. It’s just part and parcel.

The thing is that some of those issues are pretty common. Which means that there are endless stories out there full of advice and guidance on what happened, what worked - and what didn’t.

Forewarned is forearmed - so here are 6 common issues which catch out new Entrepreneurs, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Don’t Let Them Get You Down…

Your circle - the people you surround yourself with - can make or break you.

When you set up in business, most people around you will have an opinion on what you’re doing - some will be good, and they’ll bolster you and boost your confidence.

Others? Well, they might not be so great.

While you shouldn’t ignore constructive criticism, neither should you leave yourself open to unnecessary or damaging negativity. Unfortunately, there are just some people who love a bit of schadenfreude.

What can you do?

Choose your circle wisely. Seek out mentors and professional advisers that you trust. Network with your peers, join and use some of the many excellent, free and supportive networks on social media.

And when you get advice? Listen to it, but do trust your own intuition and make your own decisions. The responsibility for the success or failure of your business is yours. Keep your belief in what you’re doing, always get more than one viewpoint and keep growing and learning every day.

2. Be realistic about money

Before you make the jump and set up your business, do make sure you have some kind of financial cushion in place to cover yourself for at least the first 6 months, and preferably 12 or more.

There will be enough pressure on your shoulders starting out without piling the need to pay bills and mortgages on top. If you need time for your business to take off, how else will you survive through that period?

Be realistic about how much funding your business will need to give it a fighting chance of growth. If you need capital upfront and you don’t factor enough in - or you borrow too much on overoptimistic sales projections and don’t hit your targets - you reduce your chances of success before you really get started.

Far better to take the time to do some conservative cashflow planning, together with targets and fallback plans.

Research start up grants and loans, and make use of the many resources available - HMRC have a long list in the Business and Self-Employed section of gov.uk (go to Business finance and support).

Invest as you go along and grow incrementally without buckling under the weight of unnecessary financial pressures.

3. Get Your Concept Crystal Clear

Even if you’re raring to go, it’s worth waiting just a little longer to make sure you’ve nailed your concept.

Take the time to really go into the value you’re offering. How exactly will your customers or clients benefit from what you’re offering, both practically and emotionally?

These will drive both your marketing and advertising messages, so you need to find a way to explain it, in the simplest of terms to a complete layman.

Practice explaining your concept to friends and family, preferably those with no prior knowledge. If they can grasp it - and (crucially) why it could be of value to someone - bingo.

If not, just adjust and try again with someone else.

4. Focus on your Product and Your Message

It will make a huge difference if that first impression you make is the right one, both visually and in terms of your marketing message.

After all, a minimum viable product is one thing - a half-baked product that puts people off coming back to you? That’s another thing entirely.

Take the time to think through your branding and marketing strategy and - if money allows - hire a graphic and/or web designer early on for logos, labels, websites and packaging.

Work out exactly who you’re selling to. It seems so obvious, but it’s a big reason why businesses fail to make a mark. If you don’t know who they are, how will you market effectively?

The better you can pinpoint your target audience, the more effectively you can work out where they are, what they care about and how to convince them that they need what you’re offering.

Get yourself on social media for a little audience research and competitor spying.

To avoid social media time drain, pick a couple of channels to get started on - the ones where your target audience are most likely to spend their time. Check out the feeds of your competition and see what works for them that you can use - and what you can improve on.

5. Don’t Go it Alone

It can be lonely being an entrepreneur, especially if you’re setting up solo, so you should start to surround yourself with a good “team” of people as early as you can.


There are endless ways you can build a strong support network - from face-to-face events to social media communities; online forums to Slack co-working groups.

Start to surround yourself with people you trust, from friends with their own businesses to ex-colleagues and contacts. If you can, try and set up one or two “mentor” relationships with people who’ve been in your shoes and made it work - their input and advice could make all the difference.

Get social on social! That’s what it’s for, after all. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with peers and industry experts - don’t be scared to ask questions.

Seek out and join in with relevant Twitter hours, join a select few of the many excellent, supportive and free Facebook groups for small business owners.

Once you’ve connected with others who are or who have been where you are, pick their brains and find out how they broke into the market, what tactics they used that worked.

Etiquette is to just make sure you reciprocate with advice where you can, it shouldn’t be all take - the idea is that everyone can provide value. As an added bonus, social communities are a great place to showcase your talents and who knows, you might gain new clients or customers!

Your network is somewhere you can turn when things get tough. Seek guidance when you need it, give back when you don’t and you’ll reap the benefits again and again.

6. Outsource or Hire Help As Soon As You Can

So many startup entrepreneurs think they should do everything - and usually more for financial reasons than control. But it’s counter-productive - a fast ticket to burnout and dips in productivity.

After all, whatever your area of expertise, it’s probably not the hundred and one things every new business owner needs to do to make their business operate.

Focus on what you’re good at and outsource the rest as quickly as possible. An excellent option for a new entrepreneur is to find a decent virtual assistant. Many are skilled across a wide area of business support and it’s a flexible relationship - you only have to pay for the time you need.

But please, don’t keep plugging away at the stuff you don’t understand, or just hate doing.

Someone else can probably do it in less time, leaving you without the headache of trying to schedule time to deal with a hated task - and with the ability to spend that time pushing your business on and making money.

And last of all… don’t give up!

Unless you’re remarkably lucky, it won’t happen overnight and there will be times when it will be tough going and there are no sure fixes - only your own hard work and intuition.

Learn from others’ problems and solutions. Seek out founders’ stories and take inspiration from their tales of overcoming adversity, recovering from failure and achieving success.

Finally, our favourite tip of all is to remember “your Why”.

Why are you starting your own business? Who are you doing it for, what’s your main motivation? Whatever it might be - family, the desire for better hours or lifestyle - write it down and keep it somewhere close, or get it framed and keep it somewhere prominent.

If the going gets tough, just dig it out, remind yourself why you started your amazing journey in the first place and renew that motivation.

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