There is no rule book for entrepreneurship. New business owners often learn lessons the hard way: by making mistakes. Of course that paves the way for newer entrepreneurs to learn from the missteps of their peers and avoid making the same errors they did. Here are five things entrepreneurial experts say the new generation of founders needs to stop doing:
Exaggeration: Embellishing numbers — to yourself, to consumers or to investors — is a terrible mistake to make, and yet there are many who end up hiding behind numbers that don't add up. It's great to tell people your app was downloaded 100,000 times in the first three months and generated huge amounts of revenue, if that's the whole truth. If the actual story is that you only have 2,000 active users and your business lost more than it made, you need to be upfront about that. What's worse than investors or consumers believing your lie? Starting to believe it yourself. Shout it loud enough and you may end up becoming complacent and lose sight of goals that could help you succeed.
Multitasking: Despite the adage, you can't actually give anything 110 percent. There's only one of you and only 100 percent of your time to go around. While multitasking has its place in business, remember that it's not the only answer. Doing too much at once means that you can cross a lot off of your to-do list, but your results may be mediocre compared to what you might have achieved if you had focused your time and energy on fewer tasks. Make a point of understanding which projects need extra attention and don't neglect them.
"I, I, I": Confidence is important to entrepreneurship — arrogance is not. Having humility means knowing when it's time to stop using the word "I" and switching to "we." Entrepreneurs spend so much time pitching, recruiting and selling their ideas, their company and themselves that it can be difficult to detach from that. But no one likes a person who is only capable of talking about themselves. The best founders are well-rounded conversationalists who understand that there is more than one person who helps their company succeed. Don't disenfranchise team members by being oblivious to the world around you.
Revenue: Adam Callinan says in an article on Entrepreneur, "If I hear one more pitch where the entrepreneur says, 'we're not worrying about revenue until X happens,' I'm going to poke my eyes out." The time for collecting revenue is now. If you've started your business thinking you've invented the best thing since sliced bread, and that revenue will come pouring in on its own, chances are you will be disappointed. The Snapchats of the world are few and far between, which is why we hear so much about such ideas when they crop up. Instead of expecting to get rich quick, focus on working hard and creating something that has value, so that people are willing to pay for it.
Nondisclosure: One of the biggest entrepreneurial faux pas is asking investors to sign nondisclosure agreements. Ignoring the fact that serious investors will almost always say no to the request, asking for a NDA indicates you don't trust the people you are asking to fund your idea. Why should anyone put money into a business that insults them from the get-go?