You may have a great business idea and the plans to bring it to fruition, but you should still be on the lookout for these common mistakes that can suck the start out of a startup.
There may be as many ways to start and run a successful small business as there are small businesses. Every entrepreneur has his or her own path, but that doesn’t prevent pundits—professional and amateur—from weighing in on how to find the most efficient route. That goes for what not to do, too.
And while there may be no guaranteed way to success, Pedro Hernandez at Small Business Computing offers up five sure-fire ways to sink a business. We recommend that you avoid them at all cost.
Don’t Get Distracted
No shortage of ideas for your business? Oddly enough, that can be a liability if you lack the ability to focus. Too many ideas, even good ones, can slow you down or even prevent you from reaching your goal. You’re better off selecting the three most important priorities and focusing on them exclusively for the next year.
Don’t Scare Off Investors
Protecting your business idea and the intellectual property it requires is important. However, don’t cloak yourself in paranoia and non-disclosure agreements to the point where you frighten off the very people whose help you seek. According to Alison Johnston, CEO of InstaEDU, “Discussing your startup with others will give you greater insight into where there are holes, what does (or doesn’t) resonate with people, and the strategies you could utilize as you’re getting started.”
Don’t Forget the Humans
Many of today’s startups depend heavily on technology, both for the business idea itself and for the collaboration, communication and promotion that it takes to get the idea off the ground. But building a strong business also requires the human touch. While you should take advantage of what mobile and social media technologies can offer, don’t think that they’re substitutes for picking up the phone or talking face-to-face.
“Business is done in person and over the phone, not in the safety of your multi-LCD screen fort,” says Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar. “We make fun of our parents’ technological ineptitude, but we’re becoming a generation of entrepreneurial wimps who devalue social skills and real human relationships at our own peril.”
Don’t Ignore the Cloud
Cloud technology is a small business entrepreneur’s best friend. Instead of investing money on servers, storage, networking and software, invest in the budget-friendly cloud. It offers just about every IT infrastructure service and business application your startup could need. Your costs—upgrades, maintenance, security—are wrapped into a monthly subscription fee.
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Don’t know where to start? Check out Small Business Computing’s guide to small business file storage, sharing and syncing, a must for data backups and team collaboration.
Don’t Rest on Your Laurels
When you get your business to the point where it’s running smoothly and money actually flows into your accounts, not just out of them, you might be tempted to sit back and relax. Definitely don’t go there. As team-building expert Ted Sundquist (you might remember him as the former GM of the Denver Broncos), urges, “Don’t settle for good enough…strive for excellence.”
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.