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Top 13 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Starting A Business

Written by: Lynda Sunshine West, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


If starting a business were easy, everyone would be doing it. You’re embarking on a journey like no other. Congratulations on taking the first step to freedom and being your own boss. Welcome to the laptop lifestyle.

female business owner thoughtful serious doubtful feel stress worry with financial problem

Becoming a successful entrepreneur takes courage, determination, and strategic planning. However, even with the best intentions, entrepreneurs often make mistakes that can set them back. In this article, we’re highlighting the top 13 mistakes that entrepreneurs make when launching their businesses. From comparisonitis to fear of failure to not knowing how to delegate, these common missteps can quickly derail an entrepreneur’s best-laid plans and cause them to lose valuable time and money. Read on to discover some of these pitfalls and how you can avoid them in your business endeavors. We recently surveyed various entrepreneurs to find out some mistakes they have made and lessons they’ve learned. What they share is very insightful and will help you know what to do and what to avoid as you go through your own entrepreneurial journey.

1. Let Fear Fuel You Forward

Starting something new tends to be the hardest part. You can feel isolated and alone. In reality, though, it’s fear that prevents most potential entrepreneurs from taking action. The fear of failure is so powerful in so many people’s minds that they don’t even attempt it to see if they will succeed. We need to remember that failing is actually not a bad thing but is a step in the right direction as we learn what does and doesn’t work. Take these quotes for example:

“Business owners must look at failures as opportunities for success and fail forward. Don’t let your failures keep you from trying again; you will miss success attempting to dodge failure” (Burnetta Thomas, Founder - Business Consulting).

“In essence, there really aren't ‘mistakes,’ as it is all a part of the learning and growing process. If we never risk anything, we may avoid making mistakes, but what kind of life would we be living?" (Latara C Dragoo, Founder – Online Marketing Strategy and Consulting).

“Change the lens through which you view failures. It is not the race.” (Teaira Turner, Founder – Strategic Coaching).

The most liberating thing that an entrepreneur can do is to “accept [their] failures [and learn from their] mistakes, to implement the lessons which will catapult [them] forward in [their] passion” (Karen L Rudolf, Creator - Supports coaches and healers). One way to overcome a fear-inducing scenario, according to Lynda Sunshine West, Founder & CEO of Action Takers Publishing, is to ask yourself these 7 simple questions:

  1. Will it adversely affect my life one year from today?

  2. Will it adversely affect my life six months from today?

  3. Will it adversely affect my life one month from today?

  4. Will it adversely affect my life one week from today?

  5. Will it adversely affect my life one day from today?

  6. Will it adversely affect my life one hour from today?

  7. Will it adversely affect my life right now?

This simple 7-step process helps you to break through your fears by putting things into perspective, allowing you to go from a position of anxiety to one of logic and courage. This ability to overcome fear and take action is hugely important for entrepreneurs because imperfect action is always better than inaction.

You are either In Action or Inaction. In other words, “do nothing - get nothing. Do something, and something will happen. Action is always rewarded. Inaction rarely ever yields anything worthwhile” (Sherri R Leopold, CEO, Founder and TV presenter - Magazine and awards program).

2. Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy

Everyone’s journey is different in life, and the same applies in business. It’s crucial that all entrepreneurs remember this. There’s no benefit in comparing your business to another as it’ll only distort your view of all that you’ve already achieved and prevent you from enjoying the season that you’re currently in. Since every business is different, as is every entrepreneur, there is room for everyone’s unique gifts and talents. “Comparison is the thief of joy” (Whitnie Wiley, Chief Evolution Officer - Career Management and Transition).

3. Stop Chasing The Money

A mistake that entrepreneurs appear to make in the early stages is to focus way too much on money. As much as money needs to be made to keep the business alive, it shouldn’t be the only thing that drives us to succeed. Every good thing in life requires having the right mindset. Business owners will find that once they shift their mind from trying to make money, to providing value and being of service, opportunities from unanticipated people and places will start to arise. From this, the money will flow” (Whitnie Wiley, Chief Evolution Officer - Career Management and Transition).

4. Choose Your Partners Wisely

Going into business with the wrong people can easily put an entrepreneur in an adverse position - whether that’s financially, mentally, or emotionally. Before making such a decision, it’s important to vet potential partner(s) and ensure that they equally contribute to the business. Before joining forces with another individual, you must first value your intuition and acknowledge what you bring to the table. A “partnership is similar to a marriage. Misunderstandings and disagreements are inevitable and necessary. Set the right expectations from the beginning” (Niki Hall, Founder and Creator). A partnership means exactly that - all parties involved should work together to bring about success for the business. If there is an imbalance, that is a recipe for disaster - ultimately costing one side “more money, time and compromise” (Lorrel Elian, Life Mastery Mentor).

5. Business Is Built On Structure

When starting out, many entrepreneurs naively believe that they don’t need structure to their day. However, the complete opposite is true. As they quickly come to realize, implementing some level of structure is truly beneficial and provides the freedom that they crave (Kim Kelley Thompson, Founder - Business Coaching).

6. Change Your Environment; Change Your Life

No business can be successful (for long) if it does not accept and adapt to change. The rise of Netflix and fall of Blockbuster is a prime example of this. Had the latter adjusted its business model to the shift in consumers’ wants and needs, it would have survived and probably thrived until today. In business, the ability to pivot is key. It may not be easy, but the end result will surely make it worth the effort. “Covid is a prime example of having to make a shift in life and in business. Those who don’t make the shift will be left behind. Visualize the future and move your business toward it. Don’t be Blockbuster and go belly-up” (Lynda Sunshine West, Founder & CEO – Book Publisher).

7. You’re A Human Being, Not A Human Doing

Just because you can physically do everything, doesn’t mean that you should. This is how entrepreneurs suffer from burnout and cause more harm than good to their businesses. When business owners take on every role within the company, they have in fact created a job for themselves rather than a scalable business. The magic ingredient for success is to outsource; it is key to know what you are good at and work according to those strengths. What you are not so good at should be immediately outsourced. This is the healthy way to operate a business and having such support creates faster growth (Stacey Magovern, CEO - Safety Services).

8. They Won’t Come Just Because You Build It

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that if they build it, they will come. In other words, once they build the business, customers will come flocking. Unfortunately, people don’t flock to things if they have no idea that it exists. So, “every day that you spend waiting for clients or customers to come to you is a day that you miss out on creating more impact, helping more people, and ultimately making more money. If you want to rise above the sea of other experts in your oversaturated niche, you will need to attract more attention to you and your brand by becoming more visible” (Nina Dafe, PR Specialist). This is where social media comes in handy, alongside podcast features and collaborations with others who are well-established in the industry you’re trying to break into. Paid for advertisements is also an option, although not mandatory – especially if you are (or know someone who is) skilled in the art of SEO.

9. Be Prepared To Sell Your Company

To be approached for the purposes of purchasing your very own business speaks volumes, as it shows that you have built something of value with the potential to become even greater. However, the unfortunate outcome in most cases is that the founder is completely removed from the company, and it quickly becomes unrecognizable (Debbie Diane Peterson, Self-Published Author). Sometimes it is better to say ‘no’ – and hold onto your business. Continue growing it and wait/look for a buyer that truly aligns with your vision. Then, ask as many questions as possible so that when the acquisition has taken place you know where you stand within the company and for how long.

10. Follow Your Intuition

In business, you’ll find that it’s necessary to occasionally block out all of the noise and follow your own path. Listening to others and acting on their words can negatively impact your business in more ways than one. Entrepreneurs should always be mindful of whom they get information (not everyone has experience relevant to your industry). Only listen to those who know what they’re talking about, and even then, you do not have to follow their advice. Business owners need to be more trusting of their gut instincts and make well-informed decisions that will reap the rewards (Debra Stangl, Founder – Private retreats).

11. Competition Isn’t Bad

A sad truth is that entrepreneurs are often intimidated by their competitors and make the conscious decision to not work with them. It turns out that this is a pretty costly mistake. Offering your product or service as a backup option, should a customer’s first choice fall through for some reason, can generate so much business for you in the long run. All you have to do is be open-minded, network, and make yourself memorable. Changing and adapting to clients’ needs plays a major role in the success and scalability of any business (Stacey Magovern, CEO – Safety Services).

12. You Gotta Crawl Before You Can Walk And Walk Before You Can Run

Being overexcited tends to make entrepreneurs take premature actions, costing unnecessary time and money. As such, a business plan is probably the best thing that an entrepreneur can initially invest in. Having this guide will help in preventing detrimental decisions being made and ensure that a business is progressing according to schedule.

The saying “you have to spend money to make money” shouldn’t be misinterpreted as the need to invest too much, too soon. Without a clear vision of what an entrepreneur wants their business to be, it’s easy to continually spend without seeing any results. The take-away here is to spend time thoroughly researching the market that you’re trying to enter, and make sure that your business has the ability to generate cash flow. Being certain about the direction that you want your company to take will save so many costly mistakes and mean that only planned-for expenses are made (Lindsey Hagood, Founder - Fitness and nutrition app).

13. Seek A Mentor To Save Time, Energy, Effort And Money

It’s natural to feel that we can figure out everything on our own. Although this is not impossible, it’s not the wisest move in business. Having a mentor or being part of a training program enables entrepreneurs to fast-track their learning and skip over many obstacles. “Having a mentor has not only saved me thousands of hours trying to figure out my next steps, but has helped me come up with ideas that I would never have come up with on my own. Mentors can shape us into what we want to be… and fast (Lynda Sunshine West, Founder & CEO – Book Publisher).

It goes without saying that receiving guidance from someone who has already walked in your shoes (and made the mistakes for you) will save you a lot of time, money, uncertainty, and stress. When business owners invest in the right things, it truly goes a long way. Our hope is that investing the time to read this article was a good starting point towards that.

Are you an entrepreneur who is looking for more exposure for your business? The quoted entrepreneurs throughout this article are clients of Action Takers Publishing, who is on a journey of helping its clients share their voices far and wide to make a greater impact on the planet. Book an appointment here with Action Takers Publishing’s Founder and CEO, Lynda Sunshine West, to learn how your story can truly make a difference in someone’s life.

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Lynda Sunshine West, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

She ran away at 5 years old and was gone an entire week. She came home riddled with fears and, in turn, became a people-pleaser. At age 51, she decided to face one fear every day for an entire year. In doing so, she gained an exorbitant amount of confidence and now uses what she learned to fulfill her mission of empowering 5 million women and men to write their stories to make a greater impact on the planet. Lynda Sunshine West is the Founder and CEO of Action Takers Publishing, a Speaker, 22 Time 1 International Bestselling and Award-Winning Author, Executive Contributing Author at Brainz Magazine, Executive Film Producer, and Red Carpet Interviewer.



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