The 3 Most Catastrophic Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make And How To Avoid Them

I get calls and emails from entrepreneurs just about each week, asking me to help them understand where they are going wrong, or to warn them of what pitfalls to avoid. Here are the mistakes that top my list:

1. Spending too much money on how-to guides, courses and programs. Remember, the sales copy for these products is designed to make you feel like you don't know enough or that you'll never succeed without them. The worst thing you can do as a new professional is to get stuck in a rut or in analysis paralysis (“I'll start marketing as soon as I learn how to do this,” or “I just need to research this a little more, then I'll be ready.”). You'll never get traction by just sitting there gathering information; you have to take action. So, it won't be perfect at first, and that's OK.

Don't get me wrong, continuing your education and staying up to date on the latest trends in your industry is essential to your success as a service professional. If you're like me and need the added support of someone to generate new ideas with or to hold you accountable, partner with a colleague, join a mastermind group or hire a coach.

2. Spreading yourself too thin and trying to do everything. The real trap of the information overload caused by mistake #1 is that you are eventually left feeling discouraged that nothing is working and overwhelmed by trying to do what everyone else says you should do. Here's a test: when you hear about the latest and greatest marketing strategy (can you say, “Web 2.0”?), do you jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it and because you're afraid you'll miss out?

If so, just stop already; keep things simple. Engage in self-promotion activities that you enjoy doing, that match your core values, and that come naturally to you. Stay true to your personality; use your gut. List those activities and do them consistently. Once you're in the groove, try one new thing for a month and see how it goes. This approach may not sound exciting, but it works a heck of a lot better than trying to do everything at once. Save your energy, protect your sanity and keep yourself grounded.

3. Giving up too easily or too quickly. Many of my coaching clients have the unrealistic expectation that they will hit it big in their chosen industry after being in business for only a year or two. They're disappointed when their income and client list aren't at the level they imagined, and that building their business is taking so much work. They all want to be “overnight sensations,” when the truth is that it can take 3-5 years to establish a successful and profitable business. And that's if you do it right.

The solution is to set realistic expectations, to set short-term goals with a plan to reach them and to take one step at a time. Keep your day job, if you must, to alleviate the financial pressure. Stay focused on a target market, niche or specialty. You'll find it much more pleasant to consistently reach small milestones, as opposed to setting a goal so lofty that you're destined for disappointment from the start.

While most of us have made one or all of these mistakes at some point during our entrepreneurial journey, those who survived are the ones who:

  • Took immediate action, no matter how inexperienced,
  • Concentrated on a few effective marketing strategies and did them consistently and
  • Set realistic goals and expectations.

You can do these three things, too, and join the ranks of these successful entrepreneurs.

© 2008 Cristina Favreau. All rights reserved.

ABOUT CRISTINA
Cristina Favreau specializes in teaching independent service professionals who struggle with marketing, so they get more visibility, build their credibility and increase their self-confidence. Get her complimentary “12 Mistakes To Avoid in Your 30-Second Intro” ecourse at http://cristinafavreau.com/index.htm

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