October 25, 2014

5 Mistakes Even Successful Entrepreneurs Often Make

Sad businessman

Although most might not freely admit it,  all entrepreneurs—even the most seasoned ones—make mistakes throughout their careers. It’s something that every founder and business leader has to deal with at one point or another. If you’re thinking about diving into the world of entrepreneurship by starting your own business, you have to be prepared to make mistakes.

Here l highlight a handful of entrepreneur mistakes that even successful entrepreneurs make. Before you get too deep into product development or branding, take a few minutes to go through the mistakes outlined below. Doing so may help you avoid them altogether.

Not Caring About Those Around You

Entrepreneurs have a lot on their plates all the time. For many, it can be easy to temporarily neglect important relationships or friendships for the sake of building their businesses. As business ramps up, many entrepreneurs find that they have little “free” time to spend interacting with friends, family members, or other people who have supported them along the way. Instead, they feel forced to dedicate all their time and energy to selling, fulfilling, evaluating, and improving. It can be ta fatal mistake to make. Your personal network is your support system. You need them to survive and thrive as an entrepreneur.

According to the University of California, Berkeley, people who intentionally practice gratitude experience many physical and emotional benefits, as well as social perks, including feeling less lonely, more outgoing, and more helpful.

Continuing to be humble and appreciating your colleagues, friends, and family as you continue to strive forward can help you stay grounded and not get distracted by the idea of achieving recognition or celebrity for your efforts. Even though it’s nice to have people enjoy what you’ve built, you couldn’t have done it alone. And people appreciate it when they recognized a part of a company’s accomplishments.

Thinking Success Equals Money

In our world today, most people equate being successful with having lots of money. A lot of entrepreneurs go into business thinking it will make them rich. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Many entrepreneurs and startups don’t even truly start making money until a few years into operation—and that’s only if they can stick it out that long. If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur because you think it will make you rich and in turn successful, don’t. It’s not a good motivator to use. It’ll eat you up. You have to put money aside (to an extent anyway) and find motivation elsewhere and think about success in different ways.

As an entrepreneur, success can come in many forms. A few examples include:

  • Being featured or recommended in a popular magazine or website
  • Getting acquired or even noticed by a larger company
  • Feeling a peace of mind from making a difference or being able to support your employees and their families
  • Having a job that you enjoy going to each day

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that money is the only thing that defines your success. Focus on being passionate, helping people solve problems first, and finding little wins along the way. The money will follow.

Thinking That Being A Well-Rounded Person Isn’t Important

It can’t be very fun to run a business from the grave—and yet many entrepreneurs sacrifice their health and well-being in such extreme ways that they probably cut years off of their lives. It’s a mistake to focus all your time and energy on growing your business and none at all on your physical or emotional health.

As a new entrepreneur, you need to keep (or start) investing in your health. Doing so will make you more productive and will increase the likelihood that your business will be successful.

Studies have shown that exercise can increase focus, memory, and energy. Your health and the health of your business are interconnected. Don’t neglect one for the other.

Getting Into Debt

Entrepreneurs who don’t think lean or with a bootstrap mentality can get into financial trouble in a heartbeat.

Many successful entrepreneurs have made the mistake of borrowing huge amounts of money or racking up enormous amounts of debt—and they end up paying for it big time in the end, and in more ways than one.

In comparison, entrepreneurs who run their companies on a bare-bones budget don’t have to worry about constantly paying bills on time and adhering to tough repayment agreements. Instead, they can focus on growth.

If you don’t need to, try to avoid borrowing a lot of money to start your business. You’ll thank yourself for it well into the future.

Not Scaling Properly

Too many entrepreneurs confuse “needs” with “wants”.  They think they need fancy offices with expensive furniture in the lobby, fully-stocked kitchens with the best products, or decked out company cars and other status symbols. Don’t be like them. As an entrepreneur, it can be tempting to buy 5,000 shirts with your logo right away. Don’t do it. Focus on what’s important, and scale along the way. You don’t need to be Facebook, Apple, or Google in the first year. Take time to develop what matters.

Growth is tricky, and it’s important to grow only as much as you need and can feasibly manage at a time.

While the field of entrepreneurship is often filled with mistakes (and successes!) most can hardly predict, it’s important to stay focused on what makes a company succeed. This usually boils down to good planning. From an emphasis on exercise to making sure budgets are kept, proper planning can keep a successful entrepreneur on the straight and narrow.

Entrepreneur via photo at Shutterstock

7 Comments ▼

Sujan Patel


Sujan Patel Sujan Patel has championed Internet marketing and entrepreneurship for over a decade. His experience, ideas, and strategies have helped hundreds of companies build and strengthen their businesses online. Sujan is the VP of Marketing at thisCLICKS, the makers of When I Work — an employee scheduling software solution for small businesses.

7 Reactions

  1. What an impressive and true article. I’ve been dangerously close to making some of these and I know that I’ve made at least one of these mistakes. Sometimes you have to make a mistake to learn a valuable lesson, but this article might save a new entrepreneur some troubles right off the bat. Thanks for the article.

  2. Sujan: I have done all these mistakes and more! ;) I wrote about my experiences many years ago on Open Forum (American Express): Five Lessons Learned from my Start-up — And why I’d Do it Again, 01/19/2009.

  3. Very nice article. All the points were good. I agree with you about not caring about those around you. It’s easy to get caught up in the business and forget about family and friends.

  4. With the first point, I can see it from two sides. Friends and family are important. Very. Spending time with them is important. But on the other hand, if your business is your livelihood, then you have to put in the graft it needs in order to support you. Sometimes that might mean not spending that much time with friends and family. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about them though.

  5. Great article Sujan.

    If you’re a smart entrepreneur you will leverage your time effectively by hiring a Virtual Assistant, and as long as you don’t micro manage them you should have a lot more time for your family and friends.

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