Top 10 Biggest Entrepreneurial Mistakes

  1. Trying To Get Rich Quick.  Most overnight successes take 15 to 20 years to achieve. If you go in expecting to be rich overnight, you may become discouraged early on and give up your dream. Know that success takes time, perseverance, and a little bit of luck. 

  2. Assuming No Competition.  Even if you have the latest, greatest, never-been-done-before approach to something, don’t assume you have no competition. Competition is more than just the direct, obvious competitors. Competition is also all the available alternatives. What else could the consumer do instead of using your product or service? Could they do nothing?

  3. Being a Weak Leader.  The success of your company is contingent on you being a strong, effective leader. This does not mean you need to be an authoritarian, and this does not mean you are everyone’s buddy, either. A great leader sets the course for the company, communicates it constantly, and inspires the team to get there.

  4. Being All Business all the time.  Many entrepreneurs put their personal lives on hold to focus exclusively on their business. Ultimately both suffer. No question your business needs your full attention and effort, but only in short spurts. Balance your personal and business life, and you will actually do better in both.  
  5. Pie-In-The-Sky Financial Goals.  If all business plans come true, being a billionaire would be nothing extraordinary. Many entrepreneurs go into a new venture planning astronomical returns. Yet most never even get the business off the ground. Unrealistic goals not only hurt your credibility but can also be an emotional drain. Set Specific, Measurable, Accountability, Realistic, and Time-specific (SMART) goals to ensure continual progress. 
  6. No Rallying Point.  There is a reason why employees leave high-paying corporate jobs to go to start-ups, and it sure isn’t for the money. People are driven to serve an important purpose, in addition to bringing home enough bacon to feed the family. Many businesses never define their real purpose for existence and continually attract a mix of employees who are seeking success in different ways. Clarify the purpose of your company, beyond just making money, and you set the stage for attracting like-minded employees. A team focused on the same goal is a very powerful force. 
  7. Cutting Price.  Often, the first thing entrepreneurs resort to when business is tough is to try differentiating on price. Cheaper prices mean more customers, right? Wrong! Most customers are willing to buy more expensive items because of the greater quality or better convenience. During tough times, often an increase in price, coupled with improvements in quality or convenience, can bring the customers in droves. 

  8. No Clear Marketing Message. You never know where, when, or how a new prospect is going to hear of your business. If you have a mix of messages out there, the prospects will have an unclear expectation of what you offer. Your company must be presenting a consistent clear message on all fronts. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. 
  9. Not Being Forthright.  The days of cover-ups are over. The anonymous nature and grand size of the Internet allow someone in the know to share anything with anyone at any time. If your business tries to cover up a mistake, it is just a matter of time before the word leaks and you are labeled as a liar. That’s not good for business. Be the one to break your own bad news, and you just may be perceived as honest and trustworthy.

  10. Trying To Do It All. The greatest mistake entrepreneurs make is to believe they can do it all by themselves. While an entrepreneur can do most things, they do most things poorly. Just like any other person, an entrepreneur has one or two God-given talents. As an entrepreneur, it is your job to identify what you are great at and do those few things to your fullest. Surround yourself with people who are strong where you are not. Great companies are built on the foundation of exploiting a few strengths, not on trying to be masters of everything.

MIKE MICHALOWICZ  (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford–a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts, and no savings, he systematically bootstrapped a multimillion-dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of  Proventus  Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; a former small-business columnist for  The Wall Street Journal; MSNBC’s business makeover expert; a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and the author of the cult classic book  The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book,  The Pumpkin Plan, has already been called “the next  E-Myth !” For more information, visit 

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