My Husband Wants 50 50 Of Our 6 Month Old Entrepreneurial Mistakes

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Entrepreneurial Mistakes

It is difficult to avoid certain mistakes, especially when you are facing a situation for the first time. In fact, many of the following mistakes are hard to avoid even if you’re an old hand. Of course, these are not the only mistakes that CEOs make, but they are certainly common enough. Take the following self-assessment: give yourself ten points for each of these entrepreneurial mistakes you are currently making. Deduct five points for the ones you almost avoided. Your score will, of course, be kept confidential, but ask for help. Quick!

1. Mass Buyer Syndrome

If more than 50 percent of your revenue comes from any one customer you may be headed for liquidation. While it’s both easier and more profitable to deal with a small number of large customers, you will be very vulnerable when one of them accounts for the lion’s share of your cash flow. You tend to make ridiculous concessions to keep their business. You make special investments to handle their special requirements. And you’re so busy servicing that one big account that you don’t develop customers and additional revenue streams. Then suddenly, for some reason, that customer leaves and your business goes down.

Use that positive count as both a cause for celebration and a sign of danger. Always look for new business. And always try to diversify your sources of income.

2. Creation of goods in a vacuum.

You and your team have a great attitude. Great idea. You spend months, even years, putting that idea into action. When you finally take it to market, no one is interested. Unfortunately you were so in love with your idea that you never took the time to find out if anyone else cared to pay money for it. You have built the classic better mousetrap.

Don’t be a commodity in search of a market. Do the “market research” beforehand. Test the idea. Talk to potential customers, at least a dozen of them. Find out if anyone wants to buy it. Do this before anything else. If enough people say “yes” go ahead and build it. Better yet, sell the product at pre-release prices. Fund upfront. If you don’t get a good answer, move on to the next idea.

3. Equal partnerships

Suppose you are the biggest salesperson in the world, but you need an operations person to run things back in the office. Or you are a technical expert, but you need someone to find the customers. Or maybe you and a friend are starting the company together. In either case, you and your new partner will share the company 50/50. That’s all right and fair now, but as your personal and professional interests diverge, it’s a surefire recipe for disaster. Each party’s veto power can stop the growth and development of your company, and neither party has enough votes to change the situation. Almost as bad as property is divided equally among a larger number of partners, or worse, friends. Everyone has an equal vote and decisions are made by consensus. Or, worse yet, unanimity. Story! No one has the last word, every little decision becomes a debate, and things go downhill fast.

To paraphrase Harry Truman, the buck has to stop somewhere. Someone has to be responsible. Make that person the CEO and give them the most ownership, even if it’s just a little more. 51/49 works much better than 50/50. If you and your partner must have total equity, give a one percent share to an outside advisor who will act as your broker.

4. Low prices

Some entrepreneurs believe that they can be the low-cost player in their market and make huge profits on the volume. Would you work for low wages? Why do you want to sell it at low prices? Remember, gross margins pay for things like marketing and product development (and fantastic tours.) Remember, low margins = no profits = no future. So the bigger the better.

Set your prices as high as your market needs. Even if you can sell more units and generate a larger dollar volume at a lower price (which is not always the case) you may not be better off. Make sure you do all the math before deciding on a low price strategy. Plan all your rising costs. Figure in the extra weight too. For service companies, low price is almost always a good idea. How do you decide how high? Raise prices. Then pick them up again. When customers or clients stop buying, you’ve gone too far.

5. Not enough capital

Check your business assumptions. The norm is optimistic sales projections, overly short product development timelines, and unrealistically low cost forecasts. And don’t forget weak competitors. Whatever the reason, many businesses are simply undercapitalized. Even mature companies often do not have the financial resources to survive a downturn.

Be conservative in all your projections. Make sure you have at least as much capital as you need to make it through the sales cycle, or until the next planned funding round. Or reduce your burn rate until you do.

6. Out of Focus

If yours is like most companies, you don’t have the time or the people to pursue every interesting opportunity. But many entrepreneurs – hungry for money and thinking more is always better – feel the need to grab every piece of business dangling in front of them, instead of to focus on their main product, service, market, distribution channel. Spreading yourself too thin leads to sub-par performance.

Focusing your attention in a limited area leads to better than average results, almost always exceeding the profits that come from diversification. Al Reis, of Positioning fame, wrote a book that covers just this topic. It’s called Focus.

There are so many good ideas in the world, your job is to choose only the ones that provide better results in your area of ​​focus. Don’t spread yourself thin. Get to know what you do best in your place, and do that very well.

7. First class and crazy infrastructure

Many initiates die an untimely death from overdose. Keep your digs humble and your furniture free. Your management team should earn most of their compensation when the profits come in, not before. The best entrepreneurs know how to stretch their money and use it for key business building processes like product development, sales and marketing. Skip that fancy phone system unless it really saves time and helps you make more sales. Spend all the money that is absolutely necessary to achieve your goals. Ask the question, will there be enough return on this expenditure? Everything else is above.

8. Perfection-itis

This disease is often found in engineers who do not release products until they are absolutely perfect. Remember the 80/20 rule? Following this rule to its logical conclusion, completing the last 20 percent of the last 20 percent could end up costing you more than you spent on the rest of the project. When it comes to product development, Zeno’s paradox rules. Perfection is unattainable and very expensive at that. Plus, as long as you get it right, the market is changing right from under you. In addition, your customers put off buying your existing products waiting for the next new thing to roll out your doors.

The antidote? Focus on creating a product that hits the market within the allotted time. Set a deadline and build a product development plan to match. Know when you need to stop development to make a delivery date. When your time is up, it’s up. Distribute your product.

9. No clear return on investment

Can you describe the outcome of purchasing your product or service? How much additional business will it generate for your customer? How much money will they save? What? Are you saying it’s too hard to measure? Are there too many intangibles? If it is too difficult for you to understand, what are you supposed to do? Do the analysis. Talk to your customers, create case studies. Come up with ways to measure the benefits. If you can’t prove the purchase, don’t expect your customer to. If you can demonstrate the great return on investment your product provides, sales are a slam dunk.

10. Not admitting your mistakes.

Of all the mistakes, this is probably the biggest. At some point you will realize the terrible truth: you have made a mistake. Accept it quickly. Correct the situation. If not, that mistake will become bigger, and bigger, and… Sometimes this is hard, but, believe me, breaking is harder.

Note that your costs have sunk. Your money is lost. There’s good news: your base is zero. From this perspective, would you invest new money in this idea? If the answer is no, walk away. Change the course. No matter. But no more throwing good money after bad.

Okay, everyone makes mistakes. Just try to catch them quickly, before they destroy your company.

To avoid some mistakes in the future, it sometimes helps to ask good questions ahead of time. Click the link if you would like a copy of my fractal strategic planning quiz.

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