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Five Mistakes to Avoid While Doing a Startup

Many of us who have either started our own firms or are in the process of doing so, would agree that trial and error is a good way to learn as we tread the entrepreneurial path. It works best if we are quick to grasp the learning and pledge never to make it again. However, here are few mistakes, which could be avoided early on.

1. Don’t ignore your family and friends: As an entrepreneur, it is normal to get too busy working on your idea — raising funds, meeting prospects, traveling. But that does not mean you start to behave like you are running on a result-oriented treadmill and end up ignoring your loved ones. Support of friends and family is important for your venture and you must value that. It is all right to sometimes take phone calls of your daughter in the middle of business meetings. Nothing wrong in allocating a day in a week for family or showing up at every parent-teacher meeting at your son’s school, or picking up your spouse from work. Did you remember to wish your best friend on her birthday? By making efforts, no matter how small, you would soon realize that you have their full support in doing a successful startup.

2. Don’t ignore your health: Taking your health for granted is a bad idea. In the rush to make things happen with your startup, you could be missing those important health check-ups. You need to keep yourself healthy to deal with that extra pressure of doing a startup. Get yourself a health insurance. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, is a big votary of physical activities that keep entrepreneurs healthy. Take a leaf from his life and launch marketing campaigns that would require you to do go out and get involved.

3. Don’t be under-funded: Sometimes it just seems like a good idea to start without having the necessary seed capital, but this path is ridden with perils. The reason being that a number of expenses line up after you have started, and in the absence of enough money to back up, the initial enthusiasm could fade. So before you take the plunge, be as clear as possible to the possible expenses that your startup would have to incur before you break even. List down the possible sources of funding, friends and family being the first one, and how you would be spending the money. Cash flow problems could arise once in a while but case of chronic cash trouble could take a beating on your self-confidence.

4. Don’t depend hugely on one customer: Spread the risk by ensuring that your customer base is a good mix, spread across geographies, if possible. Repeat business is a good sign but you might soon feel comfortable with your repeat customers to the extent that you would stop taking work from new ones. It is a bad sign. There would be new things to learn from every customer, so don’t miss the opportunity. No more than 15-20 percent of your business share should be from a single customer. Reach out to newer markets in different countries and you would soon realize that the learning experience for you would be tremendous.

5. Don’t lose patience: Hang in there even if things look a hazy. Rather than worrying, spend more time in finding out what the problem is and what solution could be found. Read, learn and ask. Meet with other entrepreneurs in your industry and talk about the business problems you face rather than brood over them. Instead of searching for a psychologist, it is better to seek a mentor.

Feel free share your experiences as an entrepreneur and how you overcame difficulties of work-life balance, funding and customer acquisition.

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