10 Mistakes that Founders Should Avoid

As an optimistic entrepreneur, you may be full of good ideas and ambition, but running your business takes more than just that. Experience is a great teacher, but these tips will help you avoid mistakes instead of making them.

1. Lead, not micromanage: Perfectionists often struggle with delegating tasks to their team. Micromanaging can make your employees feel overscrutinised and breed negativity. A good way to avoid this is to trust your team, be a facilitator instead of a taskmaster, and focus on only your vision.

2. Leading is better than managing: There is a thin line between being a good leader, and a bad boss. Communication with your employees is key, and understanding their strengths and weaknesses helps you lead them better.

3. Hire the right people, on time: Reviewing applications, prescreening candidates and asking the right job interview questions can ensure a smoothly functioning team. Putting together your task force well in advance works better than scrambling to find the right employee when you’re short on time.

4. Don’t lose focus: It’s easy to lose focus when you’re overwhelmed by work; a good way to avoid this is to prioritise tasks according to what requires maximum concentration, working your way down to easier things. To-do lists, taking frequent breaks and above all, tackling challenges head on can introduce positive changes in your work.

5. Maintain Objectivity: Successful entrepreneurs must approach their business with complete objectivity as much as possible; This means, be means-driven, not goal-driven. Making decisions about the time, money and personal commitment you’re putting into your work requires a cool, impartial mind.

6. Be consistent about networking: Building a base within the startup community is important, but maintaining those contacts and networks requires consistency and hard work. Staying connected to your local business community and institutionalising a cycle of support ensures long-term success.

7. Don’t be afraid to fail: It’s important to grow and learn from failures. A bad experience often acts as a learning curve that paves your way to success. The Lean Startup methodology, for example, provides a scientific approach towards guiding a startup through their journey by eliminating uncertainty.

8. Plan your budget carefully: Figuring out your business costs, making an income forecast and setting money aside for taxes as well as unforeseen expenses makes for good budgeting and prevents you from overspending or underspending.

9. Know when to expand: Expanding too soon is tempting, but can result in disaster if you’re not prepared. A few signs that mean you’re ready to grow are a loyal customer base, a strong team of employees, more business than you can handle, and a growing market for your business.

10. Admit your strengths and weaknesses: A good entrepreneur is able to identify his/her strengths, shortfalls as well as areas that need improvement. Accepting this makes it easier down the road to fix mistakes and do better. Good social and communicative skills, for example, are a big strength, while stubbornness or impatience would be a weakness.

11. Be ready to adapt: Sticking to your guns might make the most sense, but fluctuations in the market can force you to change. Knowing your competitors, planning for the future and keeping an eye out for major trends makes it easier for your company to adapt before or along with any major market changes.

Even the best entrepreneurs make mistakes, but knowing these tips will help you to keep away from most, and be well prepared to handle the situation if need be.

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