5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Small Business

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Catherine vanVonno
Catherine vanVonno
The author, is the President and Executive Director of 20Four7VA, a global Virtual Assistant (VA) Service Provider. She holds a doctorate degree in Applied Statistics, Research Design and Program Evaluation from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and has over 10 year's experience in facilitating evidence-based strategic planning, product development, brand management, legislative communications, and medical policy. She is married and has four children. You can reach her at

Starting a business venture is one of the most exhilarating and fulfilling experiences you can have. For many, they take their passion and turn it into a lucrative project. For some, they invest in an industry that’s currently making noise in the business world. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or an employee who’s tired of your 9-5 job, starting a small business is often accompanied by bravado and a dose of fear.

Yet, bravado can make you turn a blind eye to practicality, and fear can paralyze you from taking risks. Before you know it, you’re caught in a dilemma between wanting to give up and return to your old job and finishing what you started but not knowing where to go. Although this dilemma may be common for small business owners, it doesn’t have to be a reality for you.

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It pays to learn from others so you can keep on the right track. Check out these 5 mistakes to avoid when starting a small business:

Mistake #1:

When you focus on building the company and forget about the market.

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Many aspiring company owners believe that product development and business building must always take center stage. They think that ticking off items on their checklist means that customers will follow suit:

Build and develop your own website. Set up social pages. Write blog posts. Strategically arrange the merchandise in your shop.

When customers don’t Like their page, visit their website, or buy from their store, they get disheartened and think they may not be selling the right products.

The truth is, as important as it is to lay out the groundwork for your company, you should dedicate an equal amount of time to marketing. You can’t just build a company, neglect marketing, and expect people to come in droves.

Know the rules of networking, hire a virtual assistant for your social media and email marketing schemes, and be active in local events to make a name for your brand.

Mistake #2:

When you juggle different responsibilities at once.

You can’t afford to be a jack of all trades if you want your business to take off. Let experts take care of the different aspects of your business. Hire an SEO specialist VA (virtual assistant) to take care of online marketing, let an office assistant take care of administrative work, and hire a writer for your web content.

Yes, this is all possible, even for a small business. In fact, outsourcing is one of the best investments you can make when starting out in the business world. You get the best people to do specific jobs while you focus on running the company.

Mistake #3:

When your business name is already taken.

Not checking if the business name and product labels are already legally taken is a common rookie mistake. Make sure you don’t fall into it.

Various online tools will allow you to verify if a business or product name is already trademarked or owned by an existing company.

Mistake #4:

When your business and personal bank accounts are the same.

If you want your company to be taken seriously, setting up a bank account for it is a must. Besides, it helps you to clearly see the flow of money in the business.

Certain legal structures will also require you to have a separate bank account for business purposes. If you don’t want to raise suspicions and problems with taxes, make sure your company and personal bank accounts are separate.

Mistake #5:

When you don’t plan for profit.

Making money out of something you love is an ideal notion. But sometimes, you pour out too much effort, time, and money into the project that you can’t put a price tag on your work.

Make sure to have a clear definition of your business model. What is the net margin for your business? How much do you need to make to break even every day or every month? What KPI’s or key performance indicators will tell you that your company is doing well?

It’s not just enough to make a business plan. You also have to make sure that your plans are geared towards making profits.

Go through this small business accounting cheat sheet to avoid other common financial mistakes and organize everything clearly.

After knowing the 5 mistakes to avoid when starting a small business, Are there adjustments to be done on your business plan?

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