It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a small, family-owned architectural firm with a modest staff of 12, or if you have built a Fortune 500 company from the ground up.
When it comes to big business, size doesn’t matter. Most entrepreneurs dream big. They are all in, even if that means working longer hours and forgetting to take time off. They dedicate their life to helping their company succeed above all.
You believe in your business. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have taken the leap to make your dream of becoming a business owner a reality.
Yet it is challenging, particularly as you are faced on a daily basis with choices that can make or break everything you’ve worked for.
That’s why it pays sometimes to get back to basics. Successful entrepreneurs are, by definition, driven, focused and dedicated. They know there is a difference between working your business and being your business.
So how do you stay on track and avoid the common pitfalls of entrepreneurship?
Pitfall #1: Thinking it will be easy
Solution: Be prepared to work hard
Nothing comes without hard work. While it may be true that doing what you love means you won’t work a day in your life, most entrepreneurs put in some pretty long hours.
A study by The Alternative Board found that 19 percent of small business owners work more than 60 hours a week, and only one in five small business owners work less than the standard 40-hour work week.
A whopping 97 percent of small business owners report working on the weekends as well.
Building a small business requires an investment of time and energy. It’s not uncommon to take your home with you too. Being an entrepreneur means few things out of sight are actually out of mind.
Pitfall #2: Forgetting your “why”
Solution: Prioritize work-life balance
It may sound contradictory, particularly when you’ve got your eye on the prize. You’re prepared to work hard, but burning out is a real thing that happens all too often.
That is why making time for family, reflecting on why you started your business, and doing something fun every now and then is so important. It doesn’t have to be a significant amount of time. Make sure to take time off with no laptops or phones. Do something to help you re-focus. An investment in yourself is a worthwhile investment in the future of your business.
Pitfall #3: Running out of money
Solution: Be financially prepared
Managing a budget and staying on track with finances can be one of the most challenging parts of starting a business.
A good first step is to make sure you’re prepared for anything that can happen. Have a healthy savings account you can draw from as you take time to figure out cash flow. While it may be trying, make a personal budget and do your best to stick to it each month.
And, perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Unless your degree is in accounting, it is invaluable to have the insight of a professional to draw on in times of financial confusion.
Pitfall #4: Giving up too soon
Solution: Build yourself a thick skin
Hearing no and encountering failure along the way is part of the game. It’s normal to learn as you go, and often that means learning from mistakes.
Don’t let a mistake break you. Instead, find ways to learn from what happened and use that knowledge to make your business stronger.
Pitfall #5: Trying to be a one-man show
Solution: Have a support system
One of the biggest and most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make is trying to take on the world of small business alone. There is truth to the concept that no man is an island and no business person should be either.
Having a mentor or qualified business coach from the start can be a game changer. Beyond that, drawing from family and friends, as well as your personal and professional network of resources, is a great place to find support for everything you’re trying to accomplish.
Avoid forgetting yourself. Your time as a business owner is incredibly valuable. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or reflecting on the success and growth of your business.
It all starts with you.
You believe in your business. You are living your dream. Don’t let anything, or anyone, get in the way of that.