The Very First Big Mistake Entrepreneurs Make on Day One

October 9, 2013

new business ideasA recent study showed that the number one reason people become entrepreneurs is to do what they want to do, and not what someone else tells them to do. Believe it or not, it’s not to make money.  The first big mistake is just this. It’s doing what they want because this isn’t necessarily what customers want, and are willing to pay for.

So the old saying, “Do want you love and the money will follow” isn’t true. It’s missing an important piece of the puzzle, that is, only if what you love is also what your customers or clients love too.

Validate Your Business Idea Quickly and Cheaply

This is the reason why it’s important to conduct quick business experiments – formulate a hypothesis and test it. If it fails, try again. If it works, go forward to the next step.  Weeks of research and analysis will tell you less than a quick experiment. And asking friends and colleagues won’t tell you much either because people don’t want to tell other people (particular those standing in front of them) that their idea is awful.

When the founders of Airbnb came up with their business idea, they created a website and launched it in 48 hours. They offered a room in their own apartment for rent – and someone booked it. So they concluded that maybe they had a workable business idea.

This is why the Internet is awesome – searchers don’t care who you are, they don’t care how old or young you are, whether you were a high-powered executive or a stay-at-home mom, it comes down to whether they like what you have to offer.  The Internet can be cold and cruel, but this gets you moving in the right direction more quickly.

Some of my most popular posts have been those that I quickly wrote and tossed out there, and sometimes posts that were time consuming to write and thought filled, just flopped.

There will be skeptics out there that say they don’t have an online or Internet business, but I beg to differ. You can ignore radio, television, newspaper and the like as marketing channels, but you can’t ignore the Internet. People investigate and research everything on the Internet. It’s the first place they go to do anything and everything.

Why the Internet for Every Type of Business

For example, if your business idea is to open a specialty retail store, then why not see if you can set up a niche website that is monetized through affiliate marketing or advertising. If your business idea is to develop software to solve a problem, why not start a blog talking about the problem and interview those offering the current solutions.  Don’t start off with the most costly type of business experiment, whether it’s opening a brick and mortar retail store or whether it’s a lengthy software development effort.

Other Offline Ways of Getting a Business Started

There are other ways to test out a business idea other than the Internet. My daughter likes baking and wanted to start a bakery. She started a website with unique baking ideas – even garlic cookies! (BTW – not a hit). She offered to bake and assist at bake sales for schools and clubs. She learned what people liked and didn’t like. Her big lesson is people don’t want a new type of cookie or cake, they want a familiar variety that’s the best they’ve ever had. She started baking cakes for her sports team on weekends, and the owner of a sports bar asked if she’d bake his desserts for him. Yet, a new bakery in my town, rented space in an expensive new building, renovated the space, and opened and closed in 3 months. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, now a $500 million business started by selling pretzels from a stand in a farmers market.

As a closing comment, all businesses are for-profit operations. It mystifies me why money isn’t the prime reason for becoming an entrepreneur. I think it’s better to focus on the money. After all, if an entrepreneur were to put revenue first, then the entrepreneur becomes obsessed with providing customers with what they want and not what makes the entrepreneur happy.

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Filed under: From Concept to Start-Up


3 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Joanne  |  October 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Wish I had read this article when I had first gotten started. It took me 5 times to find what both the customer wanted and what service I wanted to provide.

  • 2. Nick Olivas  |  November 19, 2013 at 12:49 am

    ” It mystifies me why money isn’t the prime reason for becoming an entrepreneur.”

    The reason money is not the prime reason is because it takes alot of work to be successful and if you are not passionate about the project you will not succeed. Money shall not be the sole reason.

    I think lesson to take away from is test the idea before investing alot of money into the business.

  • 3. Sheila Tost  |  November 19, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Thought-provoking, especially the comment about Airbnb testing their idea by immediately and literally TESTING their idea.

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