The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else Sheet Music Entrepreneurial Mistakes

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Entrepreneurial Mistakes

It is difficult to avoid making certain mistakes, especially when faced with a situation for the first time. In fact, even if you’re an old hand, many of the following mistakes are hard to avoid. Of course, these aren’t the only mistakes CEOs make, but they’re common enough. Do the following self-assessment: rate ten points for each entrepreneurial mistake you make. Deduct five points for those who are slightly shunned. Your score will of course be confidential, but ask for help. Fast!

1. Big client syndrome

If more than 50% of your revenue comes from any one customer, you’re doomed. It’s both easier and more profitable to deal with a small number of large clients, but when one of them is the biggest contributor to your cash flow, you’re very vulnerable. You tend to make stupid compromises to keep their business. You invest specifically to meet their specific requirements. And you’re too busy servicing one big account to develop additional clients and revenue streams. Then, suddenly, for one reason or another, that customer disappears and your business collapses.

Use this growing account as a cause for celebration and a warning sign. Always look for new business. Also, always look to diversify your sources of income.

2. Creating products in a vacuum environment.

You and your team have a great idea. Great idea. You spend months or even years working on this idea. When it finally comes to market, no one will be interested. Unfortunately, you loved the idea so much that you never took the time to see if anyone else cared enough to pay for it. You’ve created a classic, better mousetrap.

It cannot be a product that is looking for a market. Do some “market research” beforehand. Try the idea. Talk to potential customers, at least ten of them. Find out if anyone is willing to buy it. First of all, do this. If enough people say yes, build it. Better yet, sell your product at pre-release prices. Fund it in advance. If you don’t get a good response, move on to the next idea.

3. Equal partnership

Let’s say you’re the best salesperson in the world, but you need help running your office. Or maybe you’re a technical genius but need someone to find your customers. Or you might start a company with a friend. In either case, you and your new partner split the company 50/50. It may seem right and fair in the moment, but it’s a surefire recipe for disaster because your personal and professional interests are at odds. Neither party’s veto can hold back your company’s growth or get enough votes to change the situation. It is equally bad if property is divided evenly among a number of partners or friends. Everyone has equal rights and makes decisions by consensus. Or even worse, unanimous. Yes! No one has the final say, every small decision becomes a debate, and things quickly go sour.

In the words of Harry Truman, the buck has to stop somewhere. Someone has to be responsible. Make that person the CEO and give them the largest share, even if it’s a small one. 51/49 works much better than 50/50. If you and your partner must have total equity, give one percent of the stock to the outside advisor who is your equal.

4. Low price

Some entrepreneurs think they can be a low-cost player in their market and make huge profits from their scale. Would you work for less? Why do you want to sell for less? Remember, gross profit pays for things like marketing and product development (and a nice vacation trip). Remember, low profit = no profit = no future. So the more the better.

Set your price high for your market. Even if you can sell more units and generate more dollar volume for less (which isn’t always the case), you can’t do better. Make sure you do all the math before you decide on a low-cost strategy. Calculate all your overhead costs. Consider additional stress as well. Low prices are almost never a good idea for service companies. How do you decide how high? Raise the price. Then raise them again. When customers or clients stop buying, you’ve gone too far.

5. Insufficient capital

Check your business forecast. Optimistic sales projections, overly short product development times, and unrealistic cost forecasts are the norm. And don’t forget weak opponents. Regardless of the reason, many businesses are simply underinvested. Even large companies don’t have the cash reserves to weather a downturn.

Be conservative in all your projections. Make sure you have at least enough capital to get you through the sales cycle or until the next scheduled financing. Or lower your burn rate.

6. Out of focus

If yours is like most companies, you don’t have the time or the people to pursue every interesting opportunity. But many entrepreneurs, starved of cash and thinking more is always better, feel the need to grab every business that rolls in front of them instead of focusing on their core products, services, markets and distribution channels. Spreading yourself too thin can lead to underperformance.

Focusing on a limited area produces better-than-average results and almost always exceeds the gains from diversification. Al Reiss of Positioning fame wrote a book covering this very topic. It’s called Focus.

There are so many great ideas out there in the world that your job is to choose the ones that will give you the best return on your focus. Don’t spread yourself thin. Be known in your space for what you do best, and do it well.

7. First class and infrastructure crazy

Many startups die an untimely death due to overcrowding. Keep your digs modest and your furniture inexpensive. Your management team should receive the majority of their compensation when profits come in, not before. The best entrepreneurs know how to stretch their cash and use it for key business building processes like product development, sales, and marketing. Skip that fancy phone system unless it really saves time and helps you make more sales. Spend all the money you really need to achieve your goals. Ask the question, will the return on this cost be sufficient? Everything else is overloaded.

8. Perfection

This disease often happens to engineers who do not release their products until they are perfect. Remember the 80/20 rule? If you follow this rule to its logical conclusion, completing the last 20 percent will cost more than the rest of the project. Zeno’s paradox rules when it comes to product development. Perfection is unattainable and it costs a lot. Plus, when you get it right, the market is changing right underneath you. On top of that, your customers are putting off buying their existing products, waiting for the next new thing to walk through your door.

Antidote? Focus on creating a product that will beat the market within the allotted time. Set a deadline and create a product development plan to meet it. Know when to stop development to make a delivery date. When your time is up, it’s over. Release your product.

9. No clear return on investment

Can you tell us what benefits you will get from buying your product or service? How much additional business will this generate for your clients? How much money will they save? What? You say it’s hard to count? Too many intangibles? If it’s too hard for you to understand, what do you expect your future partner to do? Do the analysis. Talk to your customers and create case studies. Come up with ways to calculate the benefits. If you can’t justify your purchase, you can’t expect your buyer to. If you can demonstrate a return on investment for your product, sales will be a slam dunk.

10. Not admitting your mistakes.

Of all the mistakes, this is probably the biggest. At some point, you realize the terrible truth: you made a mistake. Accept quickly. Correct the situation. If not, that mistake will grow bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger… Sometimes it’s hard, but trust me, bankruptcy is much harder.

Let’s say your costs are down. Your money is lost. There’s good news: your base is zero. With that in mind, would you put new money into this idea? If the answer is no, leave. Change course. Whatever. But don’t throw good money after bad.

Well, everyone makes mistakes. Try to catch them quickly before they kill your company.

Sometimes it helps to ask good questions beforehand to avoid making some mistakes in the future. If you would like a copy of my Fractal Strategy Planning Questionnaire, click on the link.

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