Growing up I admired Michael Jordan. In my opinion, he is the best player in basketball history. At the time he was playing professionally, I never imagined him making mistakes. But recently, I came across a quote where he said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Air Jordan couldn’t have said it better. Even the greatest fail in some aspects of their career or business along their way to success.
Although MJ’s sentiment is spot on, here are three mistakes to avoid when building your business.
1. Assuming Growing Big Fast Is Best
Many people believe that quickly growing their company with numbers and employees is always a great thing and will make them more successful. But this isn’t always the case. Many times people learn this the hard way and fail fast after thinking that having a lot of people in-house would make them more profitable and successful. They fail financially and have smaller profits because of all the other costs involved.
As a small business owner, it often makes more sense to build strategic partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships. This allows you to keep your overhead costs lower and not have the stress of numerous employees as you begin to grow your profits. You won’t have to worry about everything else. Working with other businesses that might be bigger or offer more back-end support allows you to do what you do best, while at the same time utilizing the strengths of the other partner companies. Growing your business with key partners is often way more profitable than growing fast within.
2. Never Saying the Word “No”
As a small business owner and entrepreneur, it’s always tough to say or use the word “no.” As you begin your business, you want to be everywhere and be everything to potential clients. It’s very hard not to do this when you start out. If your business is somewhat successful, even at an early stage, you will be asked many times to coffees, lunches, and events. At some point you have to say no to some people, free services, advice, or meetings in order to continue to move forward with your business. On the flip side of the coin: you must say no to potential clients or projects you don’t want to really work on.
I understand as a small business it’s sometimes hard to say no to a decent paycheck and short-term reward, but if you don’t, you will regret it. Saying no to projects or clients your heart isn’t into or your mind isn’t truly focused on will allow you to work on those opportunities you really enjoy. This will allow you to leverage your strengths more. You will produce a much better product and your work will be stronger. Walking away from something in the short term will help you build the portfolio you want over the long term.
3. Planning Too Much
Small business owners often want to plan out every little thing, from the top to the bottom. We want to control everything and make sure it’s exactly what we had in our original plan. As a result, we find ourselves spending all our time planning out the future instead of being mindful of the present.
Why do these small business plans fail? They fail because too much time is spent on process and plan and not on execution. The Harvard Business School says 90 percent of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. Fortune Magazine says 70 percent of CEO failures come not as a result of poor strategy but from poor execution. As small business owners, it’s always good to remember to iterate and to not ever hesitate. Execution trumps devising another elaborate, time-consuming process or plan every time.
Life is a journey, not a destination. Mistakes are going to happen along the way. Always remember: if you don’t experience mistakes you will never learn what success can be. Don’t dwell on your business failures; instead, learn from your mistakes, be resilient, and persevere.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image Credit: CC by Tomasz Stasiuk