Those who are new to the world of small business ownership are bound to make some mistakes, but many can be avoided, with a bit of education and insight. Here are five of the most common small business mistakes that new owners make, and some tips to steer clear of them.

1

Lacking sufficient funding.

You’ve heard all about bootstrapping a company—starting out with very little funds. Sometimes that works well. Other times, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Avoid this mistake:

  • Carefully project your first year’s expenses.
  • Add another 20% on top of your projection.
  • Prepare a thorough business plan that will help you get sufficient funding.

2

Failing to make a marketing plan.

You’ve got a great product or service. One that is so wonderful, you’re sure it will sell itself. Guess what? It won’t.

Avoid this mistake:

  • Identify your target customers, and figure out where they are.
  • Prepare a comprehensive marketing plan to reach those customers.
  • Hire some professionals to create marketing materials that make a great first impression.

3

Cutting corners.

So your next-door neighbor says he can build you a website for $25, and your high school-aged niece would love to design your logo— for free! Sound like a great way to make money? Think again. Cutting corners makes you look amateurish and tacky.

Avoid this mistake: 

  • Identify your strengths, and use your time at those endeavors.
  • Find some great professionals to help you with branding, marketing, web site development, interior decor... anything you don’t know.
  • Pay professionals the standard rate for their field of expertise—they’re worth it.

4

Forgetting to delegate.

You can try to do it all, and you might even succeed... for a few weeks. Then you’ll crash from the stress and lack of sleep, which doesn’t help your business succeed, does it?

Avoid this mistake: 

  • Hire bright, talented employees who can take over specific aspects of your business.
  • Encourage self-sufficiency, and give employees the proper tools to do their jobs.
  • Delegate tasks to those who can better handle them, while you deal with tasks that only the owner can address.

5

Spending too much time at the office.

Yes, in those first early years, you’ll be spending long hours, slaving away at your business. While the growth period will require a lot of diligence on our part, you need to keep some balance in your life. Otherwise, you risk burnout, and losing important relationships.

Avoid this mistake: 

  • Remember the important people in your life, and schedule time to spend with them on a regular basis.
  • Get some regular exercise—even if that means just going for a walk during lunch.
  • Eat healthy; avoid alcohol and junk food.
  • Take a break occasionally. Go to a movie, take a long weekend vacation, read a book.
  • Find some stress relievers, such as massage or meditation.