During an interview with Black Enterprise, Rushion McDonald; the brand architect behind Steve Harvey’s multi-million dollar empire said, “Too many people are talking with the wrong people about their career. They’re starting a business without creating a business plan, or jumping into a career without doing research. Then they’re hoping and praying for success. I’m not an atheist, but prayer can only do so much. You have to have a plan on where you are taking your life. You have to put yourself in a position to win. And, forecasting and planning are two of the keys to making money.”
This couldn’t be any more true for both aspiring entrepreneurs and new business owners.
Although many people will agree that there’s no common blueprint for entrepreneurial success, there are a few habits, processes and mindsets that factor into the success equation. So if you’re thinking about taking the leap from employee to entrepreneur, here are a few mistakes to avoid.
Mistake 1: Not adopting the right mindset – Taking the entrepreneurial plunge is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life. And it doesn’t matter how many advanced degrees you have; how many business courses you’ve completed or how many followers you have on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. If you have poor daily habits and your mindset sucks, you will have a tough road ahead of you.
Feeling uncomfortable about your future, delegating busy work, failing fast, living minimally, working long hours without a dollar attached to your hard work and anticipating failure, are just a few of the mindsets and processes you’ll need to grasp to be successful.
Mistake 2: Not planning ahead – Sure, plans may change. But before taking a full-time leap into entrepreneurship, you should spend some time answering a few questions:
• As an employee you have access to employer resources. Are you prepared to leave the resources (e.g., professional development courses, tech support,etc.) available at the workplace?
• Do you have a viable business idea?
• What problem does your business solve?
• What will it take to make a profit?
• Are you prepared to work for years without seeing a profit?
• Do you understand the resources required to deliver your product or services to market?
• What’s the least amount of money you can live on?
• How does your family feel about your decision to pursue entrepreneurship?
• Do you have a backup plan or an understanding on how to create a sustainable business to withstand the ups and downs of the business world? What’s the long-term vision for your company?
Taking advantage of educational and medical benefits, testing your product or services, and investing in valuable resources such as outsourcing or proof of concept are all things you can do before quitting your full-time job.
Mistake 3: Not having the right relationships – Investing in the right relationships is one of the best things you can do for your career. Before becoming your own boss full-time, you should start building relationships with a diverse network of supports and seasoned entrepreneurs to provide mentorship and advice.
Additionally, people rarely talk about the psychological price of entrepreneurship—but the mental health struggle is real. Seek counsel when needed.
Mistake 4: Failing to understand your target audience. “If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.” Many new business owners jump right into developing products or services, without understanding their target market.
Beyond the typical demographics information:
• Can you describe your audiences’ lifestyle choices and spending patterns?
• Are they tech savvy?
• What motivates them to purchase?
• What are their daily challenges or pain points?
• Which social media networks do they use?
• What problem does your business solve for your audience?
• What makes your business stand out?
Having an in-depth understanding of your audience will help you implement marketing tactics that drive sales and develop products and services that ‘Wow’ your customers.
Mistake 5: Not understanding the sacrifices and establishing the processes required for entrepreneurial success.
Do you have processes and systems in place to support execution? You can’t cheat the process—there’s a winning combination of persistence, discipline, passion, failure and more required to succeed. Beyond process, there’s sacrifice. What are you willing to sacrifice in your social life to succeed? How much time are you willing to invest?
Have you taken the leap from employee to entrepreneur? What advice can you provide for aspiring full-time entrepreneurs?