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Starting a Business: What Should I Avoid?

When I first started my business, I had plenty of advice on what to do and not to do. Some of these lessons came later rather than sooner, mostly because I learned them the hard way, but they were important lessons to learn. I’d like to pass some of these lessons on to you as you start your own new business.

If you’re starting your own small business, as a service provider or home-based business, these lessons are perfect for you. That’s the trend of many new small businesses.

Kid's Lemonade Stand

Starting a business isn't always this easy.

1. Avoid Fixed Costs

When you’re first starting out, money will be tight. There will be times you need to hold on to more of your money, and other times where it can flow a little more freely. So you should avoid costs where you need to pay a set amount every month, because you may put yourself into a tight situation.

Some of these costs may be inescapable—mobile phone bill, Internet access—but others don’t have to be—office rent, leased furniture, office equipment. If you’re starting a small business, there’s no reason not to run it out of your house or work in your favorite coffee shop that has free wifi.

2. Don’t Go It Alone

Success does not happen in a vacuum. Every successful business gets help from others, whether it’s a mentor or a strong network of referral partners. As you start your new business, look for people who can guide you and show you the pitfalls to avoid. Similarly, find comrades-in-arms, other business owners, who are either also new to the business world, or are supportive of your particular niche (like a chiropractor and a gym owner; a restaurant owner and a theater manager).

3. Don’t Be Everything to Everyone

Your first instinct when you launch your new business is to try to take on any and every project that comes your way. The problem is, you’ll end up running yourself ragged, trying to keep up with the different requirements and needs of each client. As soon as possible, choose a niche you can focus on and pursue that.

What will end up happening is that you’ll be able to pass up on projects that will take a lot of time, and carry a low profit. Pass those projects off to your “cooperative competition”—someone who works in an entirely different niche—and receive any projects from them. This lets you scale your efforts and make more money with less energy.

There are a few other areas and pitfalls to avoid, but these are the ones that many new businesses run into when they first launch their new ventures.

About the author: is the president and founder of Firebelly Marketing. He is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and photographer, and he’s working on his first social media marketing book, which will be out in late 2012. Duncan has lived on 3 continents and in 5 countries, but is proud to call Indianapolis home.


    1. This is newbie friendly. Everyone with a teaching spirit who wants to grow his business must read it. So informative and empowering.

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    2. Thanks so much, Abraham! These are mistakes that I made myself and have learned from them.

      Learning to be focused—relentlessly so—is so darn important. I like to say, “If everything is important, nothing is important!”

      Having a community around you is critical to one’s success. It has been for me.

      Avoid taking on overhead at all costs! Keep it lean and mean!

      Thanks again.

      Duncan

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