For many entrepreneurs, the road to starting a small business is paved with endless pitfalls. The effects of these pitfalls range from minor headaches to bankruptcy, and everything in between. As more and more scrappy individuals try their hand at small business, increased numbers of war stories about mistakes and mishaps fill the internet.
In fact, in a recent article released by Forbes, successful entrepreneurs recounted some of their biggest pitfalls in early business development. One such entrepreneur was Robert Choi, founder of RJC & Company Transformation Engineers. “One of my biggest mistakes,” he explains, “was overthinking how much business and goodwill I needed to build up before really evaluating what my competitors were charging for the same services of equal or lesser quality, and what profits people were making off me. Because of this bad assumption, I undervalued my services for years.”
Undervalued services cost small companies huge sums of money every year. According to Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, however, choosing the wrong team is the single costliest error entrepreneurs make. “Choosing who to hire and work with in a startup is like playing basketball in the schoolyard; you can pick your friends and play for them, but if you want to be good and continue to be on the court, you have to carefully pick your team.”
Another common mistake entrepreneurs make is thinking all their employees are drinking the company Kool-Aid. “Despite your attempts to create a vision and a stellar place to work—including transparency, inclusivity and accountability—some people are simply not on the bus,” explains Lindsey Groepper, Senior Account Executive of BLASTmedia. She explains that people problems will always exist, and business owners shouldn’t attempt to “manage to their worst employee.”
Sometimes business mistakes can be as simple as bad web design. According to Rodney Nelson, founder of Woolly Pocket, their site “didn’t follow the standard design protocol of a good website.” The problem was that the site was difficult to navigate. “Customers had to scroll all the way to the bottom of the homepage and then to the next page to find ‘buy it now.'”
Whether small or large, mistakes that go unnoticed and unresolved can cost startups loads of money. Luckily, entrepreneurs want to help each other, and the recent upswing in story-sharing among business leaders can only signal goodwill between the successful and the aspirational. Now is as good a time as any to learn from the mistakes of others and get a business off the ground.