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Not Expecting Life Changes
If you're going from a nine to five into running your own business, you might have something of a culture shock in store. Weekends and evenings aren't likely to be free time any more, and you'll find yourself taking a great amount of work home with you now. You may well be prepared for that yourself, but are your family and friends ready? Make sure to let people know that you might not be able to spend as much time with you so they don't take it personally when you start declining spur of the moment invitations.
Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail
When you've got a great idea that's begging to be made into reality, it's easy to jump the gun and try and get straight down to it, but that's a recipe for disaster. Planning may be less fun than doing, but you absolutely need to get it right, especially if you'll be needing support from investors who will want to know a tonne of detail before they trust you with their cash.
Waiting for Customers
Your company might make a product or provide a service that sells itself, but that doesn't mean that it should. Rather than sit back and let the customers come to you, get out there and market your company. Not just to customers, but to other businesses. It's always worth networking as what you can offer could be complementary to another company's product, if that's the case, you'll want to be in the right place at the right time to cross market and help each other grow.
Not Knowing Your Customers
You need to know who your perfect customer is. The old saying of casting the net wide to catch more fish just doesn't work in marketing. Find out who wants your product the most, who will benefit the most from it and seek out those big fish. With enough research, you can find out exactly what your ideal customer likes and make sure your marketing is aimed at them personally.
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Not Counting the Pennies
Finance isn't interesting. How many of us can say that we really plan our home finances down to the last penny? As a business though, you cannot afford to slack off. You know to be completely certain that you can afford your essential outgoings before you buy more stock for example, and there's tax to plan for. Not keeping detailed records could lead to a surprise bill at the end of the tax year if you're not careful. Be sure to budget every little thing so there are no unexpected shocks. If you need startup finance for your business there are many options open to you. You could apply for business grants or Startup loans, some of which are backed by government schemes, or if you need higher levels of finance you may wish to pitch your idea to investors. Click here for further tips on pitching to investors.
Are you legally prepared?
Law in the business world is complex and ruthless. You need to make sure that you have the right legal advice in place from the outset as some of the first decisions that you make will be subject to legal scrutiny. You'll need to know the right way to set out your business for example. A sole proprietorship may cut down on the paperwork, but it might put your personal assets at risk.
Even something that seems simple like your company name could be a legal minefield. Are you certain it's not already trademarked and it doesn't sound too similar to another company's name? Even some of the biggest companies have been tripped up here, such as Google not being able to use the Gmail name in Germany when another company already had a trademark.
Starting a business offers great opportunities and if you like working hard it's better working hard for yourself then for an employer, but you must above all have a good business plan.