10 Small-Business Start-Up Mistakes To Avoid

What are some of the common mistakes small businesses make when starting out? Here’s a list of what I believe are some common mistakes that should be avoided in order to help ensure a small business’s long-term success.

The Professor with screwdriver

What You Will Learn
1. You will learn the 10 most common mistakes small businesses make when starting out.
2. You will learn how crucial a one-page business plan is to your success.
3. You will learn the fundamentals of money management for a small business.

What are some of the common mistakes small businesses make when starting out? Here’s a list of what I believe are some common mistakes that should be avoided in order to help ensure a small business’s long-term success.

Although mistakes, missteps, blunders, and lapses in judgment can all be our greatest teachers, they can be time-consuming and costly. So here I want to share with you some of my hard-earned insights that I have gained from my own lapses in common-sense business judgment.

Mistake #1. Starting Without A Business Plan
If you’re serious about making your new business a success, you must have a written plan. It can be as simple as one page to get started. Writing it will force you to think about how you plan on making your business come to life and also become profitable.

Force yourself to honestly answer such questions as “Who will my customers be?”; “Why will they buy from me?”; “How much will I charge for my products and services?”; “How will I get the word out about my new business?”. Be realistic about the costs of running your business. Your business plan will act as an ever-changing and ever-improving guide for you to follow.


Mistake #2. Having No Management Experience
As the founder of a small business, you’ll be directly responsible for all aspects of management – finance, marketing, sales, employee relations, dealing with sub-contractors, and bathroom cleaning, etc.

But, if you’re starting your business because you’re great at your particular skill or service, and want to devote all of your time and energy to doing this, maybe a family member or partner can handle most of the management of the company. This person must share your vision and goals for the business.

Mistake #3. Hiring Help Too Soon
Don’t hire employees until it is absolutely necessary. The expense of hiring help can financially drown your small business very quickly. When you do hire someone, make sure that they’re hard-working and honest.

Only hire people based on your need, not based on who you like. At our home-based small business, we only hire sub-contractors that we know and trust. And for some of the work, we rely on our family to do some of the smaller jobs.

Mistake #4. Not Hiring Professional Help
Don’t skimp on hiring professional advisers like an accountant and attorney. Interview several and find advisers that you’re comfortable talking with. Do they understand what you’re trying to accomplish? Are they quick to share their experiences and knowledge with you? These professionals can save you many headaches and lots of money.

Mistake #5. Not Using the Cash-Method Of Accounting
Under the “cash method”, you record business income when it’s received into your bank account. And you record an expense when it’s paid out of your bank account. Most of us use this cash method for our personal finances because it’s much simpler and less time-consuming. But this is also the ideal method for small and home-based businesses.

Under the “accrual method”, you would record business income when it’s earned, without regard to when you may get paid for the product or service you sold. And you record an expense when it’s incurred, without regard to when you’ll get around to writing a check to pay for it. This accrual method is too difficult to keep up with for a small and home-based business.

Mistake #6. Not Keeping Track Of Your Money
You must track your income and expenses every month so that you know where your money is going. You can do this yourself with inexpensive accounting software, or simply download your monthly statement from your bank and credit card. Cash flow is the lifeblood of a small fledgling business.

Mistake #7. Not Doing Enough Market Research
This is a very common problem with start-up businesses. Market research can take many months and lots of research to do correctly. You must know who your competition is, and who your customers will be.

You must understand all aspects of your industry – inside and out. Read all the books and articles you can find about your particular type of business. Talk to others that are in that industry.

Mistake #8. Not Doing The Correct Marketing
Every business must have an online presence. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you must be online. It’s now possible to do extensive and sophisticated marketing for free. Whether it’s a simple website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, or an online telephone-book listing, you must be online.

Mistake #9. Spending Too Much Too Soon
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t start out by spending thousands on business cards and letterheads. Don’t spend thousands on paying a company to build your website when you can very quickly build a great website on your own.

Keep using that older computer until you have the cash flow and the actual need for a new computer. Before very big purchases, like a new truck or machine, get advice from your accountant.

Mistake #10. Giving Up Too Soon
A major part of being an entrepreneur is having stamina, drive, and determination. Not giving up your dream because of a few bumps in the road is an essential part of entrepreneurship.

Developing the intestinal fortitude to weather the tough times is essential if you ever want to achieve any kind of success. Don’t believe anyone that tells you that starting and managing a business is easy or simple. It takes a serious commitment of time, effort, faith, and a clear vision.


Don’t let the fear of making mistakes, time-consuming and costly or not, deter you from starting your new business. Making mistakes, and understanding why you made them, and learning how to fix them or avoid them in the future, truly will be your greatest teacher. And it wouldn’t hurt if you start a relationship with an experienced and well-established accountant and lawyer that you can turn to for help.

Questions For Us To Think About And Discuss
1. Did you make any major mistakes when you first started your small business? Explain.
2. Were you able to fix the problem yourself, or did you get help?

About Joseph C. Kunz, Jr.

I am an author, husband, father of twins, grandfather, and small business owner near New York City. I created this website to share my self-publishing and small-business adventures and insights with others.
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