10 Mistakes You’ll Make When Starting a Business

business mistakes

Are you thinking about starting a business? If you are, make sure you avoid these mistakes, or else your business is probably going to fail.

Make less mistakes by finding your documents in 3 clicks or less.

1. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race

Most new businesses fail because they don’t have enough money. If you move slowly, it will take that much longer before you make your first buck. And even if you are already bringing in some cash, that’s not enough. You have to be profitable.

Time isn’t on your side, so do whatever you can to get your business out there and making money. I know, you probably don’t want to cut any corners, but the reality is you’ll have to cut a lot of corners to survive.

2. Don’t hire too quickly

Doesn’t it sound nice to kick back, relax, and just watch all your employees do all the work for you while the money rolls in? You know you want to do this. So, how do you make this dream come true?

Well, it isn’t by hiring people right away. When you are first starting out, you will have to do more work than you would want to.

Hiring is a great idea, but if you don’t understand what the employees’ job duties are, how they are going to accomplish their tasks, and what roadblocks they are going to face, you’ll just end up hiring employees that don’t meet your expectations.

Before you hire someone for a new position in your company, make sure you first put yourself in his or her shoes. Once you understand what that employee is going to go through, you can then hire someone to fill the position.

3. Emotions and business don’t mix

Let’s face it, you think with your emotions whether you like it or not. Don’t worry. It’s not just you – we all do it.

You will have to train yourself to make decisions based on logic. Even if your emotions are telling you to do something else, you need to make the logical decision.

Emotions don’t mix well with business because they cause you to do whatever will fix your hurt feelings instead of whatever is best for the business.

4. It doesn’t matter what you want; it matters what the customer wants

Do you have a cool idea for your new business? Maybe it’s a revolutionary product that is going to change the world. Or, better yet, it’s something that you dreamed about creating since you were a child.

I hate to say it, but it doesn’t matter what you want. You should only be doing what your customers want as they are the ones who are paying you.

So, before you invest much time and money into a cool idea, find out if your customers really want it. You can do it through surveying them and by trying to understand the problems they are facing.

5. There’s nothing wrong with being in the trenches

Being a CEO sounds sexy, but it really isn’t. Being a CEO doesn’t mean that you get to boss people around and tell them what to do. It means that you are responsible for the company’s well-being.

The only way you can ensure that the company is going to do well, when you first start out, is by being in the trenches.

You should be talking with customers, understanding their pain points with your product/service, and even dealing with customer service issues. By being in the trenches, you’ll be able to determine what steps your business needs to take to hit profitability.

6. Money doesn’t grow on trees

I know, it technically does grow on trees, but you know what I mean. Because capital is the one thing that new businesses lack the most, you have to be cautious with your spending.

Save every penny you can because you never know when you are going to need it. This may mean that you have to pay your employees less than they need to survive or bargain down your supplier’s prices even though your supplier is your best friend.

Do whatever you can to save a buck. And don’t be shy because if you never ask, you’ll never receive.

7. The best partner is a business partner

There is only so much you can do on your own. When you are starting out, you won’t have a ton of cash to hire employees.

So, how do you get work done without paying people?

You find a business partner! A business partner will not only work harder than most of your employees, but he or she won’t cost you a dime…well, other than equity in your business.

And if you don’t think having a co-founder is worth it, just think of some of the big companies out there. Now think about whom the company was founded by. Chances are there were at least two co-founders.

8. Stop thinking about tomorrow

One big problem that you’ll run into is that you’ll continue to plan for the future. And although it is typically wise to be prepared, with a new company, there isn’t enough time for you to be thinking about next year, next month, or even tomorrow.

Every day, you should just be working on things that will help make the company more profitable. And that’s it! Don’t waste your time planning for the future.

All that matters is that your company has enough cash to survive. If you don’t work on achieving profitability, you will be closing your doors soon.

9. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help

You’re not a jack-of-all-trades. No one is! You’ll always have questions, and, let’s hope, you’ll always be learning how to answer them.

In the meantime, when you are looking for solutions to your problems, make sure you ask other entrepreneurs. There is nothing wrong with having a few mentors you can rely on for advice.

The best part about it is that most mentors will do this for free. It’s their way of giving back to the entrepreneur community.

So, go out there and look for a mentor because if you think you already have all the answers you need, you’ll be in for a treat.

10. All work and no play will make you a dull person

If all you are doing is working, you’ll end up getting burned out. You need to take a break and have some fun so that when you go back to work, you are productive.

Having fun doesn’t mean that you have to go to an amusement park. It could be spending time with your family or friends. Even better, it could be going to networking events.

Networking events are a great place to meet other entrepreneurs and gain free advice. Maybe you’ll even end up closing a few business deals at these events.

The bottom line

Don’t expect miracles with your first business. No matter what, you’ll make mistakes. The key to success, however, lies within learning from your mistakes.

Don’t be afraid of the unknown! We all make mistakes, but what separates the great entrepreneurs from the mediocre ones is that the great ones don’t repeat the same mistakes.

So, what other business mistakes do you think people make when starting a business?

P.S. If you want to avoid mistakes and do things right the first time click here.


  1. Adam Singer :

    This is great advice Neil – I especially like the bit about hiring too quickly. So many new companies who (by luck or backing) become flush with cash decide to grow their team too quickly without considering building the *right*, passionate team.

    • It happens and it’s just part of the process I’d say.

      • Definitely felt “true” to the new business struggle. I’d like to add something that may sound ridiculous, but I’ve learned to stick to it, and that is that THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT.

        If you own a service business, don’t get pushed around by customers. I’m not saying you should be rude, but YOU are the expert, not the customer. If your offering is good, you shouldn’t have to cave to demands of picky customers. Craft a fair offering, build a niche, and get comfy. Do what you are comfortable with. That how I try to run my side-business, http://www.newtontents.com. Thanks!

        • That works to a certain level. If you customers aren’t happy, then you’re really the one that’ll be stuck at the end.

          • AssetProtectionWorldwide.com :

            Its true that you don’t have to put up with picky customers, but sometimes its better to bite your tongue, since with no customers, you don’t have much of a business.

        • This can work until one point, but remember that the customers thinks he is ALWAYS right no matter what you are saying. If you don’t want as a customer anymore you can shut his mouth, but if you still need him you have to agree with him.

      • Software Testing :

        I agree completely with the 10th point. you need to take some breaks in between also which is very important to make you feel rejuvenated.

      • Thank you so much Neil and mostly on your comments I’m really going out to a certain mentor who is really pushing well on his business.

  2. 11. Cheaper is NOT always better

    This was definitely one of the biggest mistakes I made during the initial roll-out phase. Hiring the cheapest option forced a 2 month development project into a 6 month project and am now faced with a redesign just a few months after launch.

    I’m not a technical founder so I knew this was a risk going in. But on the plus side, launching earlier did allow me to have my customers finance this round of design while giving me real-time feedback on the site itself.

    • Yes I agree.. that you need to realize that going cheaper may end up costing you more in the future.

    • You can still go cheap and get quality work done, but this depends on luck. If you are in a hurry you can hire cheap workforce, if you have enough time you can spend it searching for the best option.

  3. Barry Welford :

    An excellent list, Neil, and I’m in agreement with all but one of them. Your #3 suggests you should only use the logical brain. Research suggests there are useful inputs coming from your other two brains and all three must be allowed to exercise their appropriate roles.

    The problem with using that logical brain is that many bright thinkers will be caught by the Intelligence Trap as de Bono defined it. Make sure you’re not blinding yourself to some obvious fault in what you’re thinking. You can be too smart sometimes.

  4. Daniel - How To Make A Website :

    12. Your first plan will never be the one that will make your company profitable. In other words, you’ll inevitable need to adapt and change your strategy along the way.

    • Right… you’ll constantly change.

      • Web Tasarim | John Alden :

        That is most definitely correct. It’s always a must to adapt to people’s needs through time. Especially on Internet, things change way too fast 🙂

    • If you are not able to adapt you will not be able to survive. Things are constantly changing and people needs are also changing so you must be able to see these changes and apply them to your business.

      • People are constantly change because the times are changing, so it’s a definite must to “get with the times”

  5. Email Marketing Blog :

    I’ve been burned out before and I agree with your prevention “medicine” so to speak: Diversify your daily routine to avoid repetition!

  6. Jeen Hao | Earn Money Online :

    Another great article you’ve here. Simple and straight forward. Love it!

    Hiring (outsourcing) is really a good way to get great stuff. Yea, I agree what you’re saying. We cannot make the decision. I’ve written a post on how to save a lot of money while outsourcing. Have a look:

  7. I 100% agree with the first (most) and other points.

    Slow and steady does not win races.‌ You gotta hit the ground running and be ready to put a lot of work before you see any desirable results.

  8. Too many people don’t realize that “revenue” doesn’t necessarily mean “profit”. A million dollars in sales stinks if your expenses are regularly $1.2 million.

    I like when I hear the infomercials that promise that if you start your own business that you can “set your own hours” and “write your own paycheck”. I always laugh and add “as long as they are LONG hours” and “as long as you write really SMALL at first”.

    • Tammi Kibler :

      John V – You took the words right out of my mouth. Too many new business owners do not understand the difference between revenue and profits.

      I have been offered two partnerships this year that I turned down because the owners could not understand that price point must exceed expenses by at least a penny. Selling more and more and more at a loss (even a teeny, tiny loss) only drives a business into failure faster.

    • Email Marketing Blog :

      And an even commoner misconception is that putting a website on the internet will generate recurring revenue for years to come.

      Ever wonder why those people still do those “Quit your Day Job” tradeshows at hotels? They push those money making, push button websites while people have no idea the amount of work it takes to create a profitable website.

    • lol… yes that’s very true. Most of those are get rich schemes anyway… they don’t work.

  9. Justin Popovic :

    Wow. Most of these points made me smile because I was guilty of all of them except #5 and #7. I quit a 7 year career to go full time into business for myself about 3 years ago. I did it with almost no plan and pretty much just made it up as I went along. I had a few early wins but a lot of embarrassing mistakes as well. Thankfully I found a way to keep it going and find funds when I needed them. Now that I have some battle scars, I have stopped making all of these mistakes. While I am not mistake-free, you nailed it in this post. Most new entrepreneurs will simply have to go through these things.

    • Good for you… you’re definitely a prime example of the process. It takes time, effort, energy, and mistakes.

  10. Black Media Properties :

    in point number 5 you placed #talking with customers with #taking with customers or maybe I’m wrong but it reads better with talking. Great post neil. You made some solid points throughout it. Even though some points within the article seem a bit rushed, but I know you’re busy making history so keep the articles coming. #Solid!

  11. Samantha Johnson :

    Very helpful advice. I’m considering starting a business and this list has given me a lot to think about before going in. Thanks!

  12. Web Design LA :

    Very good points cleared for a business starter. Great things to keep in mind when starting a business. Because a small company cannot become a big venture untill this big things and many small things are kept in mind and implemented.

  13. Now this is what you call a profound piece of advice. I liked your blog, more so because I too am a self-made man and that’s why i totally agree with most of the points you’ve highlighted!

  14. Neil, nice list to keep around. What’s your take/approach on finding a co-founder in regards to #7?

  15. Yet another great post. I’m so glad I found this blog before I started my own company. Now I just need to manage work+school for a year, and then I’ll be able to invest far more time in my company.

    • Managing your time is the hardest thing to do… you’ll go through a few mistakes, which is okay. Just do your research before jumping into anything.

      • Software Testing :

        Having a proper research before starting any business venture helps a lot. A lot of thinking/analysis is required how to move ahead.

  16. Finding a great business partner is indeed very essential. If your partner does not shares the same values and ideals that you have for your company, then there will be conflicts.

    • Web Design LA :

      I have very bad experience for partners. Partners should be chosen very practically and should have professional approach. Personal and professional life should be kept different and both should get mixed. If you think personally you are gone from that very second. But this is not compulsory everywhere.

    • Yes, in the long run, it especially works that way.

  17. Dov Gordon | Alchemist Entrepreneur :

    Hi Neil,

    Slow and steady may not always win the race, but neither does rushing.

    There’s an important distinction between RUSHING and feeling a healthy SENSE OF URGENCY.

    Here’s the difference, as I see it:

    RUSHING: When you try to make things move faster than they’re meant to move. For example, trying to make a sale before you really understand your prospect. Or throwing someone on a job without proper training because you “don’t have a choice.”

    A SENSE OF URGENCY: When you’re committed to not let things take any longer than they absolutely need to. All this while acknowledging and respecting the reality that some things do need to evolve, mature and ripen.

    I wrote more about this here: http://bit.ly/dACZ7h

    Dov Gordon

    • Email Marketing Blog :

      Rushing isn’t always necessary and I find that the more you try to hurry things along, the less gets done. Focus on the smaller things before you try to go big. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing that Dov, I’ll take a look. I agree, you can’t “RUSH” something, but you can’t take your sweet time either.

    • Plumber Sydney :

      An important point to consider is that sometimes slowing down as much as possible and eliminating the unimportant distractions can be the one thing that allows you to complete the most important things faster and more efficiently.

  18. Brian Kevin Johnston :

    Thanks so much for the data…

    My experience is, most business’s, (Small) don’t have a centralized process (CRM) for work to flow seamlessly… A Value must be placed on a DB, and making the investment to mirror that value is mission critical… This “clears your mind” to work on relationships… Best, Brian-

  19. The first point that I was not following, even don’t have money. But don’t like to do job anymore. The thing that I follow is to meet people as spread and enlarge my contacts and network. That is really profitable and a sitting reset too.
    Thank for the advice now I will not wait for anything and move fast like rocket.

    Best Regards

    Jay Khatri

  20. sell textbooks :

    I think number 3 is an important point. As well as never do business with family and friends(in general). Most of the time it doesn’t work out and can ruin relations. Also number 10, you can’t always make it but you can learn and try again the trick is to never give up!

    • It’s not even a trick, it’s a belief you must inherit.

    • Software Testing :

      If you own a service business, don’t get pushed around by customers. I’m not saying you should be rude, but YOU are the expert, not the customer.

    • It is advisable to avoid doing business with family or friends because if the business will not succed you will end-up lossing a friend, or even worse, to not talk again with a familz member.

  21. I agree with all the above points except for number 1.
    As an owner of seversal businesses of the years I believe that you cannot cut corners, a business has to have solid foundations to survive, if that means breaking even or making a small loss in the first year so be it – but get the foundations right first.
    Profit is essential for business growth but not at any cost – believe me I speak from experience.
    Apart from that I’d say #4 is an excellent point as is # 10.
    Good advice is to never give up and always learn from your experiences and mistakes.

    • Daniel - How To Make A Website :

      It depends a lot on the segment you are in. If you building a business on the web, for instance, you’ll need to act faster, because the environment is changing even faster.

    • I don’t mean that you have cut all corners, but you can’t just slowly make your attempt. The reason why is because in an industry like ours, if you take too long, someone else will probably beat you to the idea.

    • I agree with until some point. If competition is fierce and you don’t have enough time to wait you will have to cut some corners in order to succeed or even survive. There are moments when you have to take it slowly but sometimes you have to move quick because everything is advancing ar a very fast pace these days.

  22. I’m on my third, this time going it my own and let me tell you it’s a slow crawl.

    One mistakes is missing…

    When going in with a partner(s), define the terms sooner than later. You will lose an incredible amount of trust when things start to get stressful and not having things reasonably defined will give everyone an excuse to start pointing the finger.

    Plus, don’t confuse asking for help with hiring someone. Free or favors can really work against you. Don’t ask anybody to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself, and don’t hand over important tasks to someone who will do it half assed for free when you could drp a lousy few bucks and get it done professionally. Accounting comes to mind…

    just my opinions…

    • Net Age | Web Design :

      Especially accounting! Run a business for a couple of years with slackadaisical accounting and see what fun you have trying to get everything fixed for that audit! I’m speaking from personal experience here!

      Also make sure that there is absolute transparency regarding monies and the like when in a partnership. Defining the parameters earlier rather than later in the relationships will save everybody a lot of grief!

    • Stressful or successful… if you don’t come up with something from the get go, then you’re really just asking for it.

  23. emory @ clickfire :

    I really like this, Neil, especially #3 because it can be so tempting to “fix hurt feelings” when profits are hurt as well. I’m also wondering how #4 applies to an affiliate marketing business that doesn’t have customers in the traditional sense. I guess you could consider advertisers or site visitors to be the customers.

  24. “You should be taking with customers…”

    I think you may want to add an el in that fourth word.

    Otherwise, a great list. One item I would add is to be very, very clear about implementation. We wasted a lot of time and effort in our product development because we underestimated the complexity of the task. Put in the extreme: You can’t use a world map to navigate to your local supermarket. You need to map out the route in fine detail and be ready to adjust it based on traffic and road construction. Now we have a product with which we are very pleased, but it took us some time to get there.

    • Thanks for that, I’ll get it fixed. Yes, it will definitely take time to get there, no doubt about that.

  25. iphone 4 case :

    I have definitely learned to keep my emotions at bay. If you let them get the best of you, you make mistakes that could easily be avoided.

    • Learning to control your emotions is HUGE. Controlling those alone will get you far ahead of our competition.

    • Plumber Sydney :

      Keeping your emotions in check is extremely important. It’s understandable how people can get emotionally involved in business given the effort, time and hard work they put in. Having the ability to seperate emotion from business is an extremely valuable skill.

      • It is a skill… but instead of keeping them separate, learn to combine the two together.

      • Software Testing :

        Rushing isn’t always necessary and I find that the more you try to hurry things along, the less gets done. Focus on the smaller things before you try to go big.

  26. Sean - Blogging Strategies :

    Simply, having proper goal and launch, get started, take action, move will be the most important key to achieving great success in any business. So I believe all that involves in your success is only by the way you think. So if we have control over our mind and with a passion in exploring and implementing various strategies we will be successful!

    • Narrowing down your focus from everything to something in particular can be huge for your success. Mindset is the key to success.

  27. Net Age | Web Design :

    From personal experience, having been self employed for many years, and having dealt with loads ofs mall to medium sized enterprises through various businesses, ranging from signage to printing and promotional gifts (not to mention websites) I can only but agree on the cashflow issue, especially initially. I’ve seen far too many good businesses flounder because of a lack of capital. Going out aggressively from the word go, and pumping the marketing and advertising is definitely the best approach to get your cashflow rolling quickly.

    • lol being aggressive is a good idea, but you got to play it smart or you’ll empty your pockets if done the wrong way.

  28. The civil engineer quip made me spit my drink out my nose – almost makes me want to switch to milk. I know about these mistakes, yet I made atleast four of them this month. Nº2, 4, 8 and 10. should aim one less each month or summat.

    Or for 2X profits next month…

  29. Neil
    I would have liked you to include another rule: iteration.

    This rule states you should ship and get products out the door sooner rather than later, even though they may not be perfect, then receive the feedback, make changes based on customer responses, then ship again – until you find that product/market fit everyone is searching for.

    This isn’t new: Steven Blank and Eric Ries concepts; I believe if implemented would greatly increase entrepreneur success by actually building something someone wants sooner than later.

    Good post.

    • Yes.. that way you truly understand what exactly you need to do to make this product close to perfect.

      • Software Testing :

        I believe all that involves in your success is only by the way you think. So if we have control over our mind and with a passion in exploring and implementing various strategies we will be successful!

  30. Joe @ Making Money Ideas :

    Another Great Post Neil!

    It reminds me of of Produce Market Business I got involved with last fall. I loved the experience and we followed a similar set of principles. Long story short we rolled $400 bucks in initial produce purchase into just over 50 k in about six weeks. We had a top piece of property and a three way partnership. I didn’t want to do a long term deal with one of them so I’m starting another market in a different town with plans to do 4 more. Same strategy. No employees this year, one business partner, keep it simple on expenses. We’ll drive revenues for 5 years and try to sell before this big food buzz goes away. Either way it all works. Not much for downside and it’s great association. It is also an easy business to staff in our area when we’re ready for that.

    Great post.

    J. Crawford

  31. Truly great motivating post here. It is indeed wise to remember that making mistakes is not a crime. Use your mistake to better build your business.

    Thanks for sharing

    • It’s not a crime and in fact normal and a part of the process.

    • Plumber Sydney :

      If you aren’t making mistakes then you are working on hard enough problems 😉 Making mistakers is all part of hte learning process.

      • Exactly… well said. Making mistakes is part of the business and if you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing something right.

    • Making mistakes is part of running a business, in fact is part of doing anything in your life. We are human beings and to make mistakes is in our nature. The good thing is the fact that we can learn from our mistakes and try not to repeart them.

  32. Online Shopping Directory :

    I wanted to thank you for this great information!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you bookmarked your blog to check out the new stuff you post in the future.

  33. Vip Minibüs Kiralama :

    I have definitely learned to keep my emotions at bay. If you let them get the best of you, you make mistakes that could easily be avoided…

  34. Jeen Hao | Earn Money Online :

    I personally think that many people fail because of point 4. Businesses are about fulfilling customers needs. It means demand. If there is no demand, no points for one to supply. We should always do market research before running any business.

    • Yes, that’s very important for people to understand and it unfortunately ends up being the demise.

    • Software Testing :

      I have definitely learned to keep my emotions at bay. If you let them get the best of you, you make mistakes that could easily be avoided.

  35. Best Ski Resorts :

    Extremely useful information. A must read for all entrepreneurs, as this can help avoid common mistakes. I think doing the research first a long way to prepare for the survival of businesses and better preparation growth.Its as with all hand made and learn from failures and successes of others.

    • When you start progressing in your business, you need to become more careful an clear about what you do.

  36. I’d have to say there’s one that should have made the list…Conquering Fear.

    I just wrote a post about this on my site because I’ve seen so many driven and able-minded people fall into this trap.

    People need to learn you can’t let fear paralyze you or worse yet coerce you to choose inaction over taking action. When approaching a new business or other challenge a little bit of fear or nervousness is healthy…You just have to make sure you don’t bottle up your great ideas because you’re afraid to pull the trigger!

    That’s my take on it anyway….Great post Neil!

    • Fear is a great thing… it gets you to feel uncomfortable. Be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable…it helps you grow.

    • If you know exactly what you want and what you need to do fear doesn’t have any place in your agenda. You have to conquer all your fears before starting a business and not after you started it.

  37. Exactly, that’s why it’s imperative to careful.

  38. 2. Don’t hire too quickly:-

    I’ve hired Assistance as well as Virtual Assistance and I learnt a valuable lesson that I’d like to share.

    A position is simple a a person employed to do a group of tasks.

    When the person is an assistance, as in the flesh – standing beside you. You teach them by show, let them do then be available for questions.

    A Virtual Assistant (VA) requires more preparation with detailed instructions as you need to email them or call to communication the task.

    I personal had the VA sitting around 80% of the time as I did not have time to prepare tasks to send them.

    Then the light bulb went off…

    Outsource tasks, I don’t need to have someone filling a position, sitting there waiting. Just outsource the 1 hour task, and no more.

    The repetitive tasks pay back the fastest, example, If I have a 1 hour task that needs to be performed daily. To prepare the task with detailed instructions takes 5 hours to prepare over say 2 weeks. Then the outsourced task pays back the time invested in 5 days.

    Documenting the task may take some time, with screen shoots of where to click on the screen. This is the painful bit and I assume why people don’t do it.

    The up side is you can us it over and over again and it cuts training time down by 50%.

    Try making a video with packages like Camtasia and send the video or a link to it as the task description. If doing this, level out the log-in and password details so you can reuse the video for multiple people & have the user-name and password on a separate PDF. Change or make new user-name and password for the assistant, don’t give them yours.

    Once you have a group of tasks, and the time to do them equals a weeks work – that equals a position.

    May I also suggest that once you have a person in a position that they continue to document the tasks, you could even let them outsource them. So your assistant has an assistant.

    • That’s true, especially when you take that route, you need to be as descriptive and detailed as possible.

  39. Official Music Video :

    Having a partner have a lot of positive sides. The most important to me is that you remain motivated while motivating him.

  40. I agree with you at all of them Neil.Esspecially, “There’s nothing wrong with asking for help”.Because if one is rich or fells clever or different himself,he doesnt need any another opinion but it is totaly wrong.I experienced that many times and I did many mistake.After all bad experiences,now I even ask my grandmother for her opinions 🙂

  41. Web Design LA :

    Ya i agree with that. Quick or more Hiring sometimes makes a entrepreneur in difficulty.

    • That’s why you need to be aware and careful.

    • Plumber Sydney :

      I agree with this one. Planning in terms of making sure business process and pocedures are clearly defined and documented as well as full and complete plans and documentation for the hiring process itself are both extremely important.

  42. I’d offer a bit of advice on the first point, while slow and steady doesn’t always win the race there is some level of prudence that must be shown in plotting a course of action. As a start-up myself I can speak from experience that the first year I rushed things, I had a great product, a great market, and the opportunity/timing was perfect. But my inexperience in the business side of things, and how to properly market and handle things led to some great difficulties. If I had slowed down a little bit and reached out to those that could offer advice and planned things a bit better I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now which is rescuing a company from bad PR and a negative image. Although I still want to push as hard and fast as I can on a new idea, I think there is something to be said for slowing down, taking count, and planning a strong course of action before jumping full force into something.

    Just my thoughts, what do you think Neil?

    • It obviously works in a certain way… just keep in mind that a brand new idea you have today could be old and used by tomorrow…especially with how fast the web works.

  43. Number 5 – “there is nothing wrong with being in the trenches” is very valid. But it is also valid for dealing with your own members of staff.

    I once worked with a Father and Son combo. Father left school at 16 to start his own business, which he then sold for millions. Has been a serial entrepreneur since. Son joined Father’s business almost straight out of university.

    Neither have ever had a *real* job in my opinion and because of this found it difficult to relate to the feelings and pressures of their employees.

    So, I agree with you Neil. But I also think that ‘being in the trenches’ can also apply to being more empathetic to the jobs your staffers do for you.


  44. great list of things.. i am posting after a long break… nice to visit neil’s post.. they are so balancing for your business…
    i agree on being in the trenches part.. thats true…

  45. Well, as you said, becoming not a civil engineer or having the ability to calculate risks and mistakes is a common mistake for business beginners. To succeed in business, we need precision.

  46. I like your point about getting a business partner on board. When I started my most successful business I did it all by my self and although the business has been going well sometimes I fell like I’m running out of ideas and I’m totally burn out because after 15 years of hard work I haven’t taken more than 5 days of vacation at the time. The final result is that I hate my business now. I’m talking about a wholesale distribution business that I own, but the good news for me is that I’m now working on my true passion that is building Web applications. Twitterlive is the latest one and has become my favorite pet project.
    Cheers Neil.

  47. #3 is a big one. Most people tie their decision too closely to how it will make them feel rather than what produces the best bottom line result. =)

  48. Venetian Mirrors :

    #4, I learned the hard way. I have been working on a SEO company project for a couple of months and there have been a couple of time, where I could have saved a lot of time and energy, if I just have tried to look at the problems, from a customer POV. Often, as an expert, it is easy to forget, how valuable a customers inputs can be.

  49. Again awesome post. I could not think of any other mistake at the level you have talked about in the post.
    Neil it is really remarkable that even till this point you are actually replying to almost all the comments.

  50. I agree- it’s alright if an entrepreneur commits mistake. Just make sure that a certain lesson has to be learned and never do the same mistake in the future. Also, if the business has just started then better not to hire bunch of employees rather maximize whatever human resources available like family members who can help doing the business. As soon as the business grows, then it’s time to hire employees.

  51. Best Ski Resorts :

    You can have customers in your home. Too many home business owners have had to find excuses for their home, children, dogs and lawn sprinklers before sitting down with their customers. Setting up the office portion of the house for business only.

  52. This is good information and timely since the economy has produced more people who are starting their own business out of necessity. I will link this to my blog.

    Thanks for info !


  53. Neil,

    I’ll be the first to agree that learning how to control your emotions is a big deal. But, don’t you think emotions can DRIVE you?

    For example, being fearful of failure driving you to succeed. Without any emotion, where does your drive come from…

    – Kate

  54. This is very nice post to follow. Something to remember. thanks Neil.

  55. earn and invest money :

    It reminds of my friend who started a restaurant in our place yes he did some networking with other entrepreneurs, did the first things which are supposed to be done by other employees. The point is know your business because it is the only way that your employees will not pull your other leg.

  56. Ok, I have haired 3 guys. I will control on Hiring and will focus on getting more business.

  57. You want to become a businessman… You already know what’s business you’ll do. But you don’t know how to start.

    Someone may tell you that you must looking for money. A lot of money. You must invest many money in your business to make it work. BUT THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!

    So. What you need to properly start a business? After 5 years of study at Economics University I realized: business – this is a risk. The man who has never engaged in business risk to losing a lot of time and money if make mistakes. That is mean that our task is to minimize mistakes and rash decisions.

    Now define.

    We have:
    1. The desire to become a businessman and make many money.
    2. The idea on what to earn.
    3. Little money.

    You don’t believe, but this is quite enough!
    The whole principle of a successful business is concluded in psychology. Becouse the end consumer in the end – the man. And all the people obey of psychology.

    Where do we start our business? (And remember – we need to minimize errors.) So! To start a business without fear, we must explore the market. From that starting any business. But as we’ll have done it? You can order statistics from the companies that are doing this. Or do a more practical way. How I did it.

    Today the Internet is developing

    very fastly. And does it at a rate of geometric progression. This is our chance to try out our business on practice. This means that we must create a website and fill it with all necessary information about the services we provide. Next we have to lure the customers. And watch… How many people went to the website and how many of them become customers.

    What I did in this step? I ordered a website from a company Buzzazz. After 5 weeks I start my exploring =)

    I will not tell how I advertise my site (Ads from Google or facebook), but eventually I realized that I have a few clients. Here I began experiments. First, lowered the price. But did not see a tangible result. Then speed up performance. Clients increased, but not much. And then I UNDERSTOOD!

    The best way to increase sales.

    First of all I had to become competitive. This means that I should become a solid and prestigious. Then people will trust you and prefer you. Here I again reminded about psychology.

    The next step was to find a company that will make me a really modern and high-quality website. Namely flash website. I was looking for a long time. Since they are very expensive. But finally I found it! I turned to the company “RestoreTheWeb”.
    AND IT WORKED!! Increase of clients has increased significantly.
    That’s when I realized that the most important thing in business – it’s appearance. When you open a shop you must take care of appearance. It should be better than its competitors, or At least on the level. Yes! It costs money, but if you try, you can find a very profitable option.

    Then, all this can be repeated with the real store. But now you’ll be confident. Or maybe you not have to open up shop, because selling via the Internet you will not have to spend money to rent a shop, and therefore the price of the goods may be reduced.

    • Interesting… thanks for sharing this story with us. All businesses are purely risk. The lower the risk, usually the lessor the award would be and vice versa. It all depends on you… whether you’re up to tackle on that task or not.

  58. search marketing agency :

    When I first started in the business, I also had one ‘bad’ client that sticks out from the rest of my customers. An unplasant lady in her fifties that wanted the lowest priced computer that I could provide, but that could do ‘everything’…

    Well, to make a very long story short, she kept doing improper software uninstall (among many other things), and calling me to complaint about the computer. At one point, she even accused me on purposely infecting her machine… Being the new guy, I submitted to her constant abuse for the duration of the warranty. Those were the three longest years of my life! In conclusion, I highly recommend to anyone thinking of starting a computer business to be wary of very demanding customers. Some of them may not be worth your time – and their money.

    • Very true, when you’re dealing with people like that in the computer business, it’s very difficult to deal with them at times.

  59. I really like point #9 — there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Actually, asking questions is the number one way to get help, and people are super happy to answer questions as long as they have time. Asking the right expert can save you from doing hours of research. Spot on, Neil!

  60. “Don’t expect miracles with your first business”, I think we all have high hopes when we start a new business.

    • Yeah.. it’s normal… just remember it’s not about how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you get up.

  61. Cathrine gabler :

    Neil, Whatever you have said over here is true. First I have belief that Slow and steady will win the race and spend only 6 hours actively. But today 24 hours is not enough for me.

    • I disagree. Everyone on the planet has 1 thing in common… time. So you and people like Donald Trump, Bill Gates, etc. have the same amount of time, they just know how to use it effectively. Learn from people like them 😀

  62. electronic reviews :

    love this post.. Not too sure about point 3 though. Sometimes I think thats what makes the great businessmen special the fact that they use a little bit more than cold hard logic. Point 10 I am in total agreement. This jack is getting a bit too dull! Need to start playing

  63. Neil, I gotta ask…are you one of the mentors who offer free mentorship as a way of giving back to the entrepreneurial community?

  64. Tom - Business Consulting :

    When my wife was starting her tutoring business, I thought she should hire tutors before she had clients. My thoughts were that she was only paying them when they worked, and that she’d have them ready when she needed them.

    Thank goodness I talked to my boss first. He told me that trying to find people to cover our business would be a good problem to have. My wife tutors and has since hired more people, and she knows exactly what they are facing because she’s been there the whole time.

  65. Find A Language Teacher :

    Probably the biggest mistake I made running my first business is not working with a partner. Even if you look at bouncing ideas back and forth can make a whole lot of difference. Let alone that your work hours are doubled.

    • People don’t want to work with partners because they want to keep more cash, but what they don’t understand is that by having a partner, you get more perspectives, not to mention contacts.

  66. Any advice for starting a business on a more service related level? I want to start my own design/photography business. So far i just have the idea! Any help would be much appreciated. Hey we could do business one day, you never know!

    • Yes, maybe haha. I suggest you do some market research in your area. Find the demand for your product, which will be relatively high, then go out and make it happen. If it’s web-based get a website. If it’s not, utilize other avenues for spreading information about your product. Good luck!

  67. I’d prefer to start out as a consultant. That way, you have some clients in hand and then after you gain some traction, you can form a company.

    The biggest mistake I see people make is not planning enough. Sometimes they have a great business idea, but it fails. Other times, they have a poor business idea, but it goes through OK. The difference in these two, is planning.

    Do market research carefully and your efforts will be rewarded. Solutions sell, not products.

    Most people start online business thinking they don’t have to meet other people like in normal business. While it’s true to some extend, to really be successful, you need to network a lot

    • Very good points. I like: solutions sell, not products I hope you don’t mind if I use it. Thanks!

  68. Naser @ Best Tips For Blogging :

    You are right Neil, customers are blood life of any business, if a business does not have customers, then it is waste. We need to take care of our valuable customers.

  69. Very helpful advice. I’m considering starting a business and this list has given me a lot to think about before going in. Thanks!

  70. I’m SO glad that you included point 4!
    If you are in the business of providing some sort of help or service to your customers then you have to be prepared to go above and beyond, if you say that you offer service A and service B and the client wants a little extra help implementing them, then provide it, sure you can charge a little more if you feel that it’s necessary but when the customer says ‘jump’ you say ‘how high?’

  71. Online Mastering :

    hiring too quickly? shiiiiiiiiiit i wish i had the money to hire ANYBODY 🙂

  72. hey neil,
    Totally agree with it ” there’s nothing wrong with asking for help”. some people feel guilt to ask, but it should not be like this.
    great contents discussed over here.



  73. Research Paper for Sale :

    I normally wouldn’t be able to find such great content as this on other sites. You have done a great job with each unique point made on this topic. Thank you for your hard work.

  74. You can still go cheap and get quality work done, but this depends on luck. If you are in a hurry you can hire cheap workforce, if you have enough time you can spend it searching for the best option.

  75. Good article… BUT – I disgree completely with the point “Emotions and business don’t mix”. All successful people listen to their intuitive self, and strongly go on gut-instincts. Certainly one must remian level headed, but then again without taking a chance, leaping into a risk – well, you’ll never innovate. Emotions are important in business. You just have to be mindful.

    • Autumn, thanks for the feedback. I don’t disagree with you. I just want to emphasize the fact that negative emotions can definitely take you out of your element. We must be mindful and positive when taking on any business endeavor. Thanks for reading!

  76. I like all your tips and all the comments and your reply on this blog. I am really overwhelmed to start a business. Right now I am still doing some research, asking for some more advise, and looking for a good partner to start with.

    I thank you alot for this useful information on your blog.

    I now understand that no matter how many times a business will fail or fall down even if I still do not have the experience with business, what I lean here is to learn from the mistakes that I might encounter and to always have the strength to start again without doing the same mistakes in the past.

    • Just keep fighting the good fight for your business. I have found that passion in the work you do is the biggest determinant of success. If you love what you do it won’t feel like work. You will also be more inclined to keep trudging away until you meet your goals. Please let me know if you need any help 🙂

  77. I am really afraid like if I will borrow big amount of money. Specially I am borrowing to my auntie to start a taxi business. However, many things running in my mind, like what if’s question. What if when I start that taxi business, one of the driver might got into an accident so means it will be costing money for the things that he have damaged specially if there are people affected.

    Really I am that confused whether to start big, or just to start with just low income per month however just low starting budget. I am still confused, and always thinking what is best.

    • Jazz, I think you should go with whatever makes you more comfortable. Ultimately you have to live with the risks you take on. So if you feel starting off slow is a sound strategy then follow that route. I think you should just follow your gut on this one 🙂

      • Got it now, I should not do a business which makes me not comfortable. :)..

        Thank you for this one sir Neil.

        I’ll go for this slowly first, to observe things, and to learn more.

        Thanks again Neil. I’ll post always here to ask advise. thanks again.

  78. hi,
    neil I want to know how you deal with spammy comments on your blog?
    please guide me.

  79. Luke Boobyer :

    Good article but I’d disagree with the first point slightly. “1. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race”

    While it’s true that you do have to get out there making sales and attracting customers, I often see too many businesses try to do everything too quickly and they ultimately damage their brand and turn customers off because they cut too many corners.

  80. ?umm êtes vous certain de ce ?ue vous nous avancez ??

  81. cul fille légère :

    C’est du ?onheur de parcourir ce ?oste

  82. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your weblog.
    You have some really great articles and I think I would be a
    good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Cheers!

  83. Un poste rempli de vé?ités

  84. pute blackette :

    Sublime arti?le, j’en parlerai dans la j?urnée avec des voisins

  85. Hi,I need your advice, my business is still new and I am into kids apparel,the main issue is that I started by selling to friends as well as colleagues who said they will pay at the end of the month and as a result I am not able to buy and resell due to being cash strapped because I work and also retail kids clothing by the side,I don’t own a shop which would have made things easy because customers will pay cash when they purchase anything,what should I do to avoid failing?

    • Pamela, I would make sure your friends and colleagues pay asap. Just let them know your situation — they of all people should understand and pay you promptly 🙂

      It’s harder to get money from customers but just make sure people pay up front.

  86. Vaibhav Mittal :

    Hi, I am working for a company which doesn’t allow me to work/do business along with the job. Can can become an active or sleeping partner in a partnership firm along with my job. Will it affect my job?.

    Thanks in Advance.


    • Vaibhav, I don’t know the specifics behind what you do or the culture in which you work so I can’t advise. I would try to figure out the best solution to do both.

  87. The Last Mistake is because u may started the business without capital and more number of employees and staff.

  88. I like the fact you mention mistakes are part of the process. As long as you learn from your mistakes you become better.

  89. I am doing contineous losses in my food business. Can anyone help me out with it.

  90. Chris Thomson :

    Paying your employees less than they need to survive? That’s horrible advice. If literally the only thing you care about in the world is yourself then that’s fine, but even then if you treat your employees with such disdain and a lack of respect it’ll come round and bite you on the backside.

    You might say that’s the difference between making it and not making it, but if I knew I was effectively killing people and their family by paying them so little, I’m not sure I could carry on doing it.

  91. 16 years working day and night, no vacations at all, no friends, no life, just work. Barley making enough to meet bills, and things are going backwards. Yeah, you could say I’m burned out. And get insanely depressed when I hear about a business that’s on top of the world after a couple years. Even more depressing that I’ve accumulated thousands of testimonials and love letters about my products, and many days go by without a sale. It’s scary.

    • I would recommend finding a way you can master one subject as best you can. And hopefully that subject is the one you love doing.

      Please speak to someone if you are down as it is important you get perspective sometimes. It is so easy to get locked into your own world and you miss the signs of how you can get out or move forward.

  92. Balanced Choice Vending :

    This advice could not be more sound. It’s so great to take things slowly, ask for help, and business partners can be invaluable not only for capital, but for insight and advice as well.

    There’s nothing that we love more than helping people get their vending businesses started…the right way…and this advice is something that falls right in line with what we tell our clients. We’ll definitely be sharing this article with them as well. Nicely done as always Neil.

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