It is an incredible feeling to turn your entrepreneurial dream into a reality. There is so much to look forward to in the early days of your business. Certain benchmarks like signing the lease on your first office, hiring your first employee, or signing your first client will stick with you for years to come. Just as important as appreciating these milestones, is knowing what can get you into trouble. Some things just have to be learned through experience. What seems like common sense can be hard for a passionate entrepreneur to digest. Even the smartest entrepreneurs fail. What is remarkable is that they often fail because of the simplest mistakes. For success, you will need no small amount of luck and the wind at your back, but that alone will not suffice. There are some mistakes that pop up time and time again with new businesses, and it is worth entering any endeavor with your eyes open to the possibilities – both good and bad.
For starters, are you putting the cart before the horse? You have an idea that excites you, but do you have a business plan? Have you set the right goals? Before you start scouting locations for your office or picking out colors for the logo, you need to know exactly what the next year, five years, or ten years looks like. If you are not sure where to begin, then you are going to need to find the right help. Which leads us into another huge mistake that people make with their nascent businesses: thinking that they can do everything.
Successfully striking out on one’s own is rarely a lonesome venture. No person is so brilliant that they can single-handedly topple the many-headed beast that is a new business. Are you great with the design of new products? That’s wonderful, but how are you at sales? Can you manage payroll? Are there permits or taxes that are unique to your business? A jack of all trades will, at best, find themselves burnt out, or, at worst, standing at the helm of a sinking ship. Admit that you need help. Admit it quickly and loudly so you can find the right people to help push your business into success.
What do you look for in an ideal candidate? In a perfect world, all the applications flowing through your inbox would be pristine. These applicants would have perfect grades from perfect schools and glowing letters of recommendations from companies you admire. The reality for many first-time CEOs can be a little different. First, start by looking inward. What are the corporate values that matter the most to you? Define these before you hang that “Help Wanted” sign because you are going to have to make some concessions in the hiring process. Maybe the applications you see lack some of the polish you would like, but who among them are the people you want to be shoulder-to-shoulder within these early times? Who is going to be hungry to learn? Do not just leave these values in your head; put them on paper and never let it out of your sight. There are some places you can cut corners or compromise, but never sacrifice your values in hiring the wrong people.
To read more of my thoughts on business, finding a work-life balance, and a host of other topics, take a look at my blog. To learn about my company and the current state of captive insurance in this country, read my latest book.