Top 5 Entrepreneur Mistakes

One of the traits of humans – We make mistakes. That’s established. But our life span is not enough to keep learning from our own mistakes. Some mistakes are common to a subset of people who fall in the same category. In the case of this blog- Entrepreneur Mistakes.

My 3 year stint as an entrepreneur with my startup Living Local has had it’s shares of mistakes. Fortunately none that was not rectifiable. I am sure a lot of you out there have made similar mistakes and a lot more who can avoid some of them and make newer ones of your own to learn from as well. After all these mistakes make us smarter and stronger. I am listing the Top 5 (not in any specific order) that I have learned from, the ones that I like to believe have given me a better understanding and on the road towards a better entrepreneur.

#1: Losing the Risk-taking nature.

The first risk an entrepreneur takes is the decision to become one. But there is an excitement in that risk. Something that gets us going inspite of the expected and a lot more unexpected hurdles ahead. That risk taking excitement acts as a catalyst for the entrepreneurial wheels to move. But somewhere down the line when the wheels are moving on our startup road, an entrepreneur somehow stops taking the needed risks to grow. Too many calculations and factors are considered before making the move. Maybe we become wary of the eyes that are watching us lead and steer our startup in an expected path. Whatever the different reasons for different entrepreneurs may be, we sometimes become risk-averse. That’s not in the DNA of an entrepreneur in the first place and neither can a startup function like a grocery store with a monotonous approach. If you realize that something is not right with your entrepreneurial movement, you might want to look at the last time you took a risk as an entrepreneur.

#2: Hiring and Expectations

This has been a pain point and an ongoing exercise for most entrepreneurs. Somehow when we first hired a few new employees in my company, everyone said “Great! That’s a sign of growing”. I am sure a lot of you must have heard that. And I am sure it is. But what’s the mistake in this? The mistake is hiring people and not talent. Entrepreneurs are incomplete with the right team in place to overcome the challenges. The right employees that can be delegated and relied upon. But sometimes in the need to fill up the positions we end up hiring people and not the right talent with the right skill-set. It could be a mistake or it could be a hit and miss chance based on the similarities of resumes these days. But what we can avoid in making it an entrepreneur mistake is not going after the defined skill-set.

#3: Stretching your own Bandwidth

I doubt there is one entrepreneur out there who hasn’t stretched his or her bandwidth. There is so much to do, so much to manage, not always the luxury of the funds to hire talent at will and various other factors that make us multi-task. Multi-tasking is good. It’s an art every entrepreneur should learn. But everyone has a bandwidth to take care of things till the other things start to suffer. You can be the main pillar but not the four pillars at the same time.. all the time. The mistake we make is stretching our bandwidth beyond its limit resulting in other things suffer that need attention. Focus is lost and work becomes a chore. There is no one bandwidth for all. Each one has his own and you simply need to know how far to stretch yours.

#4: Aim for Perfection

Don’t get me wrong here. The aim for perfection is a great quality to have and I have been accused of that a lot of times. But it’s about how and where to target that approach. We all want to get our product out in the market in it’s best possible form. We sometimes make a mistake of making that “Best form” into the “Perfect form.” The Best Form is the form that takes the product out on time without disastrous known flaws. The Aim for that Perfect Form to put out there to the audience is a never ending loop and delays the pace at which startups are expected to move today. I have seen delays on cosmetic features that would have not made any difference. Delays that bite in the rear-side when deadlines and result-oriented milestones take a beating. I always aim for Correctness first. Perfection is what an entrepreneur should always aim. What will set you apart is also knowing that Perfection is not a tangible thing to run after.

#5: What Mistake?

The classic Mistake of NOT acknowledging your mistakes. This may not necessarily be an entrepreneurial thing but it has a domino mistakes effect on the entrepreneur’s startup journey. We make decisions based on the best knowledge that we have at that point of time. They could be wrong when seen in hindsight. But if an entrepreneur doesn’t acknowledge it, accept it and rectify it, then the domino mistakes effect is going to be the biggest cause of the fall.

I am proud to say I have made mistakes in my entrepreneurial journey. ‘Cause I learned from them. They made me better equipped and knowledgeable for the road ahead. I am sure there are a lot more mistakes to be listed. A lot of mistakes I avoided based on the experience of the others parted towards me. A lot of mistakes to come on the way ahead as well. But as an entrepreneur anything that helps us be prepared of things that can be expected is a bonus.

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