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Lessons in business mistakes from Marc Ashton, editor of Finweek magazine, an entrepreneur and a somewhat wayward day-trader on the stock market.
1. Starting A Business
Nobody ever told me how hard it would be, and while it was an incredibly painful (and expensive) lesson, it was also one of the most thrilling periods of my life as I believed that anything was possible.
2. Going Back And Taking A Job
The idea of reporting back to corporate masters doesn’t sit well with the entrepreneur in me. Doing things “by the book” at times stifles my creativity, but the flipside of that is the incredible resources and people I now have that I didn’t have in my small business.
3. Working With My Wife
How we stayed married through the collapse stage of our business, I have absolutely no idea. Money is a very emotional subject and when it isn’t there it becomes even more so. Having said that, we learnt a lot about one another’s strengths and weaknesses during this time.
4. Hiring Friends
Committing to paying a salary is a responsibility that many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t always appreciate. Friends who are in your business for a salary are not the same as friends who want to see you succeed.
5. Your Business Is Not Your Piggy Bank
If you tucking into your personal savings whenever the business needs money or you’re grabbing money from the business account as soon as it lands then you’re not in a good place. Financial controls are important.
6. Sell Like A Stripper
Most of us hate the idea of selling, but if you cannot sell, then your small business (and your financial livelihood) is at stake. Find a sales mechanism that works for you and make sure you are selling all the time.
7. Social Media Is Over-Rated
Sitting on Twitter and Facebook is not promoting your business. It is a nice to have but it very rarely puts real money in your bank account. Time is precious for a small business with no systems, so use it wisely.
8. Don’t Start Something You Know Nothing About
We all have visions of “cool” businesses (gym, nightclub, coffee shop, etc), but the reality is that if you know nothing about an industry you are going to get burnt. Ask me, I know.
9. “Hi, My Name Is Marc And I…”
If there is one thing I will criticise my parents for, it is that they never taught me to introduce myself. I have since found out that it has cost me plenty of dinner dates with attractive girls who would have said yes if I had just asked. Same principle for business: it’s an important skill.
10. Don’t Rush In
You can convince yourself any which way, but there is a 90% chance your business is going to be dead in the water within 12 months. Don’t let it sink you at the same time.