Let’s face it, being an entrepreneur is work, and the process is by no means foolproof.  I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade now and I still have bad habits to break and “Rookie Mistakes” to correct. I call them Rookie Mistakes because seasoned entrepreneurs have been through all of these at some point or another.

But just because we’ve been through it all before, that doesn’t prevent us from continuing to fall for these pitfalls every now and then. The thing is, we get comfortable and it opens the door for old habits to creep in.  As you read the 10 mistakes, do some self-evaluation.  And don’t worry, you can always make mid-course corrections to get back on track.

10 Mistakes that Stunt Your Business

  1. Working In Vacuum – This is especially a problem for Internet Entrepreneurs. We spend hours at our computers, holed up in our offices and can go days without any human interaction.  This is dangerous because your perspective can become one-sided.  There’s nobody there to bounce ideas off of before you implement them.  Nobody there to say “No, don’t do that. I did and it cost me thousands of dollars.”Look for local meetup groups or networking meetings and go meet other people in your field. You’ll be amazed at how much just one conversation with someone who “gets” where you are and what your doing can inspire you and birth new ideas inside of you.
  2. Doing It All Yourself – This is the quickest way to burn out. Starting out this way is okay, but at some point you must hire help.  With websites like Odesk.com, Elance.com and VirtualStaffFinder.com, there are many inexpensive options available.  Start small and work your way up. Hire a virtual assistant.  Create systems for things you do repeatedly so you can automate and delegate responsibilities.  Having these systems in place will make it so much easier to work with an assistant, virtual or otherwise.
  3. Never Taking a Break –When you work for someone else, this is one of the biggest complaints you have.  That you can’t come and go as you please or that you never get any time off.  Then, when you begin working for yourself, you can get so caught up in your “daily grind” that you never take any time off.  This is a recipe for disaster.Taking time off gives you mental clarity.  Somehow, it’s when our minds are quiet that inspiration most often comes.  So not only are you taking time off to play hard, but also to quiet your mind so you can receive divine downloads of creativity.  You’ll get back to work refreshed and renewed, with tons of new ideas to implement.  Mark my words. After every break you take, watch closely and see if you don’t notice a jump in your creativity, implementation, and bottom line!
  4. Not Tracking Your Money – Yes, there are seasoned entrepreneurs who still don’t track their money.  It’s one of the reasons their businesses might be floundering, in spite of their years of experience.  You must watch the money!  Know how much is coming in and going out daily.  If you use an accountant or bookkeeper, you should still know your own numbers.  I remember hearing Oprah Winfrey telling several celebrity entrepreneurs, “Sign every check.”  Or at least every check that is over a certain amount.Understanding your daily, weekly and monthly cash flow is critical to the success of your business.  Whether you’re on a shoestring budget or have more than enough cash flowing, this can’t be emphasized enough.
  5. Taking on EVERY Customer –Every customer or client is not your ideal customer or client.  You’ll know this for sure when you get a wrong one!  When you are just starting out in business, you don’t want to turn anyone away. After all, you need the money, right?  However, this is a lesson often learned the hard way.  Quite frankly, some customers are just more trouble than they are worth, and you end up losing more time and energy than you gain financially. Do yourself a favor and learn to say NO.The key to doing this without fretting over the money you think you’re losing is to know without a doubt who your ideal customer is.  And when you know, attract them. You don’t have to chase customers.  Let your work speak for itself and your customers will tell everyone they know.  Let your marketing attract the customers and clients to you and have a process in place to weed out the ones who don’t fit.
  6. Not Having Any Vision, Goals, or Direction –You’ve heard the saying “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” right?  Well, a similar principle applies here.  If you don’t have a direction for your business, you’ll go anywhere.  You’ll jump from one bright idea to the next.  You’ll fall for get rich quick schemes and never see any real growth.Your vision and goals are what give direction to your business.  You must know where you are going if you are ever going to get there.  When you have a clear vision, you accelerate towards your goals.  Your team, if you have one, has direction.  People want to be a part of work that’s meaningful to them.  The only way you can help them identify that what you’re doing fits the bill is to have a vision to share with them.Write down your vision and your goals.  Then move to number 7 below and develop a strategy for how you’re going to get there.
  7. No Strategy Behind the Work You Do – I know, one of the reasons you quit working for someone else probably had to do with the fact that hated the structure; the sameness of the daily routine.  I understand – really I do (I did, too).  However, there has to be some type of order to the work you do.  Maybe you don’t plan your entire week in advance, but you should at least know what you’re going to accomplish today.So maybe you have a goal of getting 100 new customers this month. That’s great!  The question is: how are you going to get them? What exactly are you going to do to make that happen?  That’s the strategy behind the goals.Maybe you have a vision to be the number one supplier of fantastic widgets. That’s great! Now how are you going to do it?  That’s the strategy behind the vision.  Your vision is your purpose; your pot of gold.  Your strategy is like the road map you use to get there; it’s the rainbow that takes you to the pot of gold.
  8. Not Giving Calls to Action – Tell prospects, customers, and clients what their next step should be. Lead them into the action you want them to take and then ask for it.  If you want them to join your list, order your widget, call for a consultation… whatever it is, ask for it.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.
  9. Being “Faux” Busy – You can be busy and still be unproductive.  Surfing the web, commenting on blogs and chatting on social media can help your business, but they can also hurt it.  If you do too much surfing and not enough implementing, you’re just wasting time.  I always remind myself that Ideas + Action = Progress.  If you want to make any real progress in your business, you have to do the things that are really productive.  Things such as creating products, marketing your products, generating leads, and building systems.  These are the things that are really considered productive time.
  10. Not Having a House List – Your money is in your list.  You’ve heard it before, right?  If you’re not building a list then you’re not building a real business.  Your house list is the lifeline of your business.  Remember, it’s more costly to get new customers than it is to service and sell to the ones you already have.  If you are nurturing your list and building a relationship with your “tribe”,  then kudos to you.  It will serve you well throughout the life of your business.  If you don’t have a list, you should do everything you can, right now, to build one.  Email marketing companies like Aweber.com make it easier than ever to do so, and are inexpensive enough to fit into anyone’s budget.