Top 5 things to avoid as a startup

What should I avoid when I start my business?

Trust me, it’s easy to make a lot of mistakes without even realising when you’re starting your business.

Whether you have funding or not you can easily fall into traps that can have a huge impact on how well your business does in the early days. The following points I have learnt from the hard way with my previous business, I completely understand the impact it can have if you make the following mistakes!

Always have a plan

This sounds super obvious but it’s more to it than you think. Initially, when I started my first business I had the optimistic view that work would come in straight away when in reality I should have been looking at it from the customer’s point of view. They would be thinking ‘It’s a new business I have never heard of that costs the same as the business I have used before and trust.‘ That is a difficult attitude to shift and it just takes time to gain trust and loyalty with people. So the point I’m getting at is that you should always predict the worst, what if nobody comes to you for the first few months? Do you have the budget to keep a roof over your head? Do you have a date where if it hasn’t taken off you have to find other work? I know this sounds defeatist but you have to think of these things.

On a positive note, you should have targets in your business plan. We all have those aspirations of where you ultimately want the business to be. I always used to tell clients to write down their six months, 2 year and 5-year goals and then try to answer how they would get there. It really does help to realistically look at the bigger picture. Obviously, these aren’t set in stone, I never thought I’d be starting a print business but it’s always best to have a plan that you can change than no plan at all.

You don’t need an office

I’ve mentioned this in a previous post because clearly, I’m still recovering from it all. You really don’t need an office if you’re a one man bad, if you are thinking of getting a space to work in and if you’re completely honest with yourself and you know it’s only for vanity or for an ego boost you’re making a mistake. Does your startup have enough income to cover the additional cost of not only rent but utility bills and potentially business rates? I learnt the hard way that it doesn’t and that the money can be better spent elsewhere.

If you know you need an office because you genuinely need the room or the nature of your business needs a warehouse then you have to do it. But shop around and really think about the additional stress renting space will put on your business.

You don’t have to do it on your own

Again, I was very guilty of this. I had this thought in my head that I had to be a one-man crusade out to prove to the world that I’ve started an empire completely on my own… obviously, that just hasn’t happened! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a final product that you have built from start to finish single-handedly. However, you must stop and think, how much time have you spent on it and how much would it have cost to have someone else build it. Probably a fraction of the time and nearly the same cost as you trying to do it yourself. I reached the point where I needed help with artwork so instead of becoming a mess trying to get everything done at the same time I got some freelance designers to help with the workload. It changed my outlook on everything. I’m also currently looking at a getting a bookkeeper to just remove the stress of receipts (Nobody enjoys that – unless you’re a bookkeeper!). There really is nothing wrong with asking for help, its the only way you’ll scale up your business.

Always budget

Like I mentioned before, you really need to know your numbers when starting up. I like to work on the basics, always make sure you outgoings are less than your income and your winning. If having a big expense will constantly push you over to a loss every month then just don’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

‘Fake it till you make it’

Possibly the worst phrase for a startup and I know this from experience. When I started up my first business I genuinely think this phrase that gave me the wrong attitude towards my business. I had this image in my head of how the business should look and sound. I was forever pretending to be bigger than I was. I went to networking and used the infamous ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ all the time. It was only when I had a potential client come to the office that they said ‘where is everyone else?’ which led to the awkward ‘I actually work on my own’. I just saw the trust vanish at that moment. I actually can feel myself going red just writing that. Obviously, the work never came through. I hadn’t lied to them directly saying I had 10 members of staff but I had definitely made it sound like I was bigger than I am with carefully worded sentences. Authenticity is the way forward, be genuine and people will always trust you. That’s my aim with Cookie.

Thank you for taking your time to read this post, I hope it was useful for you and it prevents you from making any mistakes I have made. If you have any useful tips or horror stories of mistakes you have made when starting up your business let us know in the comments below!

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