start upWhen you first start a business you will make mistakes, everyone does. There are common behaviours start-up businesses engage in, some necessary in start up phase, some unhelpful at any stage. Identifying behaviours you need to grow out of can be challenging, but is very necessary.

I’ve identified my top five start-up behaviours that will harm your business. Do you STILL making them?

Selling rather than serving

One of the top mistakes start-up businesses make is focusing on selling before knowing. In other words, they  push for sales all the time. They don’t understand the need to build a relationship with their potential client; so will fill their social media profiles with self focused sales pitches, their intro at networking is all about what they sell not how they help. Of course, the exact opposite of this is also true; give, give, give and never quite ask for the money. This will not build a business either.

The focus should be on how you can help your client, what problems you solve for them, what aspirations you can help them achieve – and you’ll only do these if you get to know them. The better you know your client group the more clued up you’ll be about how to serve them and when to ask for their business.

Feeling like you have to do it all

When you first start up in business funds will probably be tight. You may end up doing everything yourself – from filing, to sales conversations and product creation. But when you start making sales, make outsourcing a top priority – this will enable you to focus your attention on those things that will truly move your business forward.

I see many business owners in a state of complete overwhelm simply because they are still trying to do everything themselves, and most of us have been there at some stage. Lets face it, at the start you might not have much client work to do, once you’ve got a client workload there is no way you can also stay on top of all you did before and stay sane. The answer here is to ask yourself ‘what is it only you can do’, then get help with the rest.

Not having a plan

Start-up businesses will have a rough idea of where they’re going, but frequently it is just an idea in their head. This might be the big dream; it might be step by step. Get your thoughts down onto paper – and have a structured plan for making them happen. This does not tie you in indefinitely, but it does give you something to focus on.

Focus on why, then what and lastly how. ‘Why’ will help you stay committed when things are tough or you are faced with seemingly exciting distractions. ‘What’ gives you the structure to move along your journey, recognise that this may change as you become more experienced and see what is delivering results for you. I leave ‘how’ until last because for many people it limits thinking, problem solving and flexibility. ‘How’ is the part of your plan most likely to change, being too attached to ‘how’ can seriously sabotage your business.

Not understanding their market

You have a great product or service, that you believe is the next best thing – but do your customers? As a new business it’s really easy to get caught up in your own uniqueness. The fact is your potential clients don’t care – they need to know you can help them, you understand them and your focus is on them.

The only way you get to know this is by doing your homework, spending time where your clients hangout – on and offline, and talking about the stuff they are talking about.

In the early days you may get work from people who know you, have worked with you before in some way and already trust you. Expanding this to new people is essential to sustain your business but involves different strategies to getting started.

Do you know what market you are aiming for? Do you have an ideal client in mind – an exact profile of them? This way you can structure your marketing efforts towards the business you want.

Ignoring your own self growth

Are you learning new skills that will help you expand yourself and your business? I often hear business owners complaining about or dismissing personal growth, market changes and the wider economic picture, because they don’t have time or they already know it. These are the business owners who stay in the same place or go backwards.

You, your market and the way you do business will change over time – are you allowing yourself the chance to grow with it?


Take a hard look at your own behaviour and decide if you are making any of these rookie mistakes.