Most people don’t have the guts to start a business. The simple fact that you’re courageous enough to do so says a lot about who you are at an identity level. But before you get too deep into the process, make sure you have a correct view of how to proceed.

The 5 Big Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make

Building a business is not as glamorous as they make it out to be in Hollywood flicks and glossy magazine center spreads. It’s difficult, gritty work that will make you think “What am I even doing?” on more than one occasion. But it can also be highly rewarding. The key is to fight through the difficult beginning and middle parts so that you can eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor. And part of “fighting through” is avoiding the costly mistakes that often sink businesses before they ever get the chance to set sail.

As you look forward to starting and growing your business, here are some major mistakes you’ll want/need to avoid:

1. Bad Idea

You can have the cleverest marketing strategy, the trendiest little logo, and support from the world’s top social media influencers and celebrities. But if you have a bad idea, the whole business will crumble faster than a sandcastle at high tide.

Businesses aren’t made of logos and slogans. The best businesses have exceptional ideas that are brought to life in unique and compelling products that add value to the customer’s life. To put it another way: You can have terrible marketing and overcome it with a great product. But even the best marketing will never make a terrible idea good. It all starts with the idea – plain and simple.

2. No Market Research

Unfortunately, this mistake is becoming increasingly common. More and more entrepreneurs are attempting to start businesses without doing any market research. They see a shiny object and they run with it. Unfortunately, they don’t know if their customers actually want or need the shiny object.

Thorough market research is an absolute must. It should be conducted at every stage of the process.

  • Got an idea? Conduct market research.
  • Have a sample of a new product? Conduct market research.
  • Planning a new marketing campaign? Conduct market research.

There’s no better source than the people who will be making buying decisions about your products when they hit the “shelves.” Why not check their pulse throughout the process?

3. No Business Plan

It might sound super old school, but business plans are still very important. Avoid writing one at your own risk.

The best time to write a business plan is after conducting thorough research on the front end. This written “roadmap” will show you the steps to starting a business by addressing issues and questions like:

  • What needs are you addressing?
  • What makes your business unique?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will the business be monetized?
  • How will you promote your business?
  • What resources do you need to get started?

Writing a business plan takes time but be as thorough as you possibly can. Every bit of time and energy you put into crafting a business plan on the front end will yield copious amounts of clarity and value when it comes time to execute. Put in the hard work now so that you can enjoy the benefits tomorrow.

4. Stubbornness

We all have a tendency to fall in love with our ideas. But what happens when our market research tells us that the customer wants something else? Stubbornness to change could be a costly mistake.

The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who aren’t afraid to pivot and change course. They’re less worried about being right than they are about developing products and services that add value to the customer.

5. Trying to Do it All on Your Own

When your business is your baby, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one capable of nurturing it. But don’t let your intimate knowledge of your business make you so shortsighted as to try to do everything on your own. Time is not scalable and expertise can’t be generated out of thin air. You might know your business, but there comes a time when the smartest thing you can do is get some help. A failure to do so will lead to costly mistakes (and could eventually cause total burnout).

Set Yourself Up for Success

There are no shortcuts to starting a successful business. People will try to sell you on quick hacks and workarounds, but the reality is that there’s no replacement for hard, work, discipline, and experience. Having said all of that, you can dramatically improve your chances of being successful by avoiding the aforementioned mistakes.

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.

Startup mistakes stock photo by Gearstd/Shutterstock