Go back

15 Entrepreneurial Mistakes: This is Why Businesses Fail 

Read in 4 minutes
Published on: 25 Dec 2020

Step into an entrepreneur’s shoe, it is like being omnipotent; you evolve into a hybrid, all-powerful entity destined to monitor every business aspect. Well, that diversity may seem glamorous, but it is arduous to manage it all. The weary load of responsibilities makes it inevitable for mistakes to happen. While some blunders are acceptable, there are others which a startup cannot stand to bear. 

  1. Financial Mismanagement
  2. A faulty attitude 
  3. Not employing technology or seeking professional help
  4. More planning, less implementation 
  5. Prioritise Requirements
  6. Setting unrealistic goals and towering expectations
  7. Don’t expect quick results in less time
  8. Faulty hiring decisions 
  9. Not keeping up with the craze
  10. Inadequate marketing efforts
  11. Surface understanding of target audience
  12. Failure to do competitor research
  13. Letting criticism affect you
  14. Leaving networking opportunities untapped
  15. Insufficient or no branding 

As you set forth on this journey to be the mastermind, leading people to shape ideas, here is a list of commonly-made entrepreneurial mistakes to avoid. 

1. Financial Mismanagement

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Financial Mismanagement

Out of all the mistakes entrepreneurs make, poorly managed finances tops the list. To put it vaguely, funds drive the show, and with their rippling nature, it becomes mandatory to govern them. With a subpar money management, you may go wrong in these ways: 

Spending all of it

One of the biggest financial mistakes you can make as a freelancer is spending every last penny you have. While you may be tempted to invest all your money into the business, expecting ROI but ploughing in all of it is not a good idea. Keep something aside for a rainy day.

Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No.1.

- Warren Buffett, Business Magnate, Investor and Philanthropist.

Save your time. Learn this in as little as 1 minute.

We’ve got 500+ bite-sized content to help you learn the smarter way.

Download the app

Being too thrifty

Your business cannot survive if you are overly picky about where you spend your money. While you must wisely choose where to spend, being too skimpy will be counterproductive as it can lead to frustration, slow decision-making, and execution. 

Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

- President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Not keeping a track of where the money goes

A rule of thumb for managing your money is knowing where all of it actually goes. Being unaware of where your money flows is a pitfall. It is detrimental to your financial management. This attitude towards money management is harmful, especially for a startup.

 Money, like emotions, is something you must control to keep your life on the right track.

- Natasha Munson, author, inspirational speaker and CEO of Be Magic, Inc.

Expensing it all near tax deadline

Buying things like equipment for your business is good. Buying things for yourself is even better. Buying things for yourself and chalking it up as a business expense is not okay, not to mention illegal. It is the end of a tax cycle, and you realise that you have upcoming expenses, plus a big tax payment to make. Of course, the temptation to want tax returns on personal expenses is high. But apart from being illegal, this can potentially affect your general approach to business. The biggest advantage of your business being a separate legal entity is that it gives you the ability to think objectively & practically. So, it is best not to treat your expenses as a business’ expenses.

The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.

- Denis Healey, British Labour Party politician

Not knowing when it’s time to shut down

A foul blunder all startups make is that of not knowing when to pivot or shut down the company. Analyse your standing in the market, take into account all your efforts and calculate your customer base. 
As a business owner, running an unyielding company will drain you of your financial assets. 

It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn't matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.

- Paulo Coelho.

2. A faulty attitude 

Entrepreneurial Mistake - A faulty attitude

Nobody likes a know-it-all and businesses detest it too. As a new entrant to the world of entrepreneurship, a learning attitude will be super useful. Since you are largely going to manage all domains, it is crucial to gain knowledge about each. Read, practice, experiment and gather knowledge about what makes each field unique. It is only then that you can advise, innovate, evolve, or make informed decisions. Get off from your high-horse every once in a while, and seek wisdom from experts. Moreover, trust the professionals you hire to do their job. Learn from them if you get the opportunity. 

3. Not employing technology or seeking professional help

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Not employing technology

In today’s tech-savvy age, it is a big mistake not to use technology. These technological aids in the form of tools make processes much easier, more streamlined and very fast. A good example of how technology helps make tremendous progress is the usage of AI in healthcare. It has successfully aided in patient and drug discovery, and the formation of standardised tests. A big entrepreneurial blunder would be staying aloof of the many advantages of technology. 
Sometimes help is all you need to get out of a rut. Don't be afraid and ask for it! Look for professionals in your domain, reach out with a query and get free/paid assistance for some quick problem-solving. 

4. More planning, less implementation 

Entrepreneurial Mistake - More planning, less implementation

Starting as an entrepreneur, it is crucial to spend time doing market research and in-depth groundwork. While you may have it all planned with those Excel sheets in place, slow or inept implementation will be evident in low bars in your performance charts. All that strategising and planning will be worthless if the execution is slow. Therefore, a proactive approach is required. But this should not hamper the analysis part as well. 


5. Prioritise Requirements

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Prioritise Requirements

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get lost in developments and lose sight of your original priorities. You are likely to come to realisations, through people or otherwise, that you’re deviating from your priorities. In such cases, it is important to head back to the drawing board and remind yourself of what is important. After all 

If your priorities aren’t met, you’re probably just barking up the wrong tree. So you just have to nip your problems in the bud.

- Jacopo Lai, Co-founder, KoolStories

6. Setting unrealistic goals and towering expectations

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Setting unrealistic goals

Your idea may be totally novel, and it may sure have the potential to blow up the market, but setting unrealistic goals is not the right way to go about it. Set attainable long and short-term targets for yourself and your employees. Remember that small victories serve as motivation. Since goals give direction to your efforts, it is better to walk with small steps rather than take long strides that are wobbly and tougher.

7. Don’t expect quick results in less time

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Don’t expect quick results

Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of being too unrealistic and impatient. From this stems the greed for faster results with minimal effort in less time. This makes small businesses and startups more vulnerable to fall for shortcuts and quick hacks. As a new businessman, clutch to the rule of thumb- nothing replaces hard work. Imbue your workplace culture with this mentality and don’t make the mistake of expecting too much.

8. Faulty hiring decisions 

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Faulty hiring decisions

Your human resources are the flesh and bones of your business. You automatically come into a relationship with every employee you hire, and well-trained people become an asset. Hence, always go for competent people. Don't onboard low-costing people who are unskilled, for the sake of cost-cutting. Find the best fit and be extremely careful while hiring.  

9. Not keeping up with the craze

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Not keeping up with the craze

Since you want people within a market to purchase and actually like your product, your marketing efforts must align with current trends. Therefore, you need to keep up with everything that is doing rounds. Knowing what people are responding to on social media or following in society will give a peek into their tastes. Accordingly, shape all your efforts around these preferences to be more relevant.

10. Inadequate marketing efforts

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Inadequate marketing efforts

Your business services may be the best, or your product may be wholly new and utilitarian. But nobody will come to know about it until you spread a word about it. This is where marketing comes in. 

Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.

- Milan Kundera, Writer & Playwright

Your business ought to have the right marketing team and strategies like PR, advertising in place to craftily tailor and deliver your message to the target audience. After all, marketing helps you make some noise and gives recognition to your startup or small business. 

11. Only a surface understanding of the target audience

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Surface understanding of target audience

Since marketing takes your business across borders, it is necessary to choose the marketing strategy that suits you best. This begins with a knee-deep understanding of who your target audience actually is. You cannot aimlessly hit a crowd anywhere in the world. Even if you plan to launch a global platform, it is essential to choose a geographical area or market. Ergo, you need to know your audience. This begins once you have clarity on the utility front of your product or service. Ask questions like, “Who will benefit the most from my service or product?”, “What age group is more likely to make a purchase?”. To further simplify this process, build buyer personas and curate content, or commodities to give direction to your marketing activities.

12. Failure to do competitor research

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Failure to do competitor research

It’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.

— Douglas Warner III, Former CEO, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co

You can genuinely use your competitor to see if you are on the right track in the business world. It is a technique in SEO and a leading contributor to generating more customer leads. In the end, the idea is to do all that your competitor is doing, probably do it much better and then go two steps ahead by doing something innovative. 

13. Letting criticism affect you

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Letting criticism affect you

The biggest entrepreneurial mistake is taking criticism of their heart or ignoring it altogether. Understand that criticism is veiled feedback. So, get into the practice of taking criticism in your stride and use it to bring about positive changes. Once you start analysing the criticism you get, it makes it easier to identify the problem-parts in your business. Also, throw in customer reviews and feedback to the mix for an errorless strategy building.

14. Leaving networking opportunities untapped

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Leaving networking opportunities untapped

As much as marketing aids to generate a buzz, never underestimate the power of networking. Every time you step up and deliver a pitch about your business, it adds to your confidence and exposure. While networking with professionals requires specific skills to plant a business card and make yourself visible even after you have left. Find or generate every chance you get to build the right connections.

We understand the importance of building relationships that matter. Valuable connections facilitate professional as well as personal growth. So, we have simplified the process of finding and connecting with like-minded people. Presenting to you KoolStories - a unique micro learning platform to connect, network and learn. Join the social learning movement now. 

15. Insufficient or no branding 

Entrepreneurial Mistake - Insufficient or no branding

Think of a men’s grooming brand that did not exist for all 20-somethings ten years ago, but had everything to do with class and appearance among men of all ages in the 70s, 80s and a bit of the 90s. A distinct fragrance that makes one “Smell like a man, man”. Ring a bell? Yeah, we’re talking about ‘Old Spice’. What brought it back from the brink of non-existence?
A new series of advertisements featuring traditionally masculine personalities appealing to the opposite of the target demographic (men), turned the brand image back on its feet.
Old Spice stuck to old messaging that targeted a wide range of audience including millennials- about 30-40 years ago. The brand’s refusal to evolve the messaging brought it to the brink of extinction, and now it is thriving. Truly a branding story to learn from.

Entrepreneurship can be a daunting journey. It takes some drive to pursue it, and even more to power through a series of failures, just with the determination and with very little assurance that hard work will pay off. Now, while there’s no guarantee that a particular set of solutions will help an entrepreneur be successful, avoiding at least some of the abovementioned mistakes can certainly make your life easier.



What should entrepreneurs avoid?

Starting a new business can be daunting and mistakes become inevitable. In such a scenario, all you entrepreneurs can get a head start by avoiding the following pitfalls:

1.Being too stringent in spending money or spending too much.
2.Taking the competition too lightly or not doing a thorough market analysis.
3.Cost-cutting when making hiring decisions.
4.Not trusting your employees and being a know-it-all.
5.Fear of taking risks or lack of risk mitigation.
6.Undervaluing or overestimating your product or service.
7.Stepping into multiple ventures and expanding too quickly.
8.Overpromising too much or under-delivering.

How can entrepreneurs prevent failure?

Entrepreneurs can avoid failure when they have an all-around business approach. With this methodology, they can easily scale their business model and achieve their goals faster. Here are the common things all entrepreneurs should do to avoid failure:

1.Wise allocation of cash and funds.
2.Finding a space in a crowded marketplace.
3.Analysing the need of the product/service for the target audience.
4.Having a clear vision in mind.
5.Setting achievable goals.
6.Understanding the industry you are stepping into.
7.Belief in your product/service and the company.
8.Learning from mistakes made in the past.

How do you know a startup is failing?

Starting your own business is more than a full time job, it is no less than a commitment. But what do you do when you feel like your startup isn’t doing that well? Before jumping to conclusions, here are the common signs to look for when you feel like your startup is failing:

1.Losing sight of the goal
2.Detaching customers or low engagement
3.Slow execution
4.Lack of energy in the team or poor teamwork
5.Rising employee turnover rate
6.Too much rigidity
7.Boredom and low energy at the workplace
8.Lack of direction

What are the important mistakes startups make that lead to failure?

Startups make huge blunders either in their early stages or after hitting the first growth spurt. If you are a startup owner, make sure to avoid these major blunders:

1.Insufficient planning and an incompetent business model.
2.Lack of smart, realistic, achievable and long term goals.
3.Hesitance to ask for outsider help.
4.Using old practices and failing to use technology.
5.Pitching inadequate assumptions of the market.
6.Lack of focus in the absence of simpler plans.
7.Hiring too fast and without much deliberation.

What are 4 mistakes startups typically make?

There’s a lot that can go wrong when starting your own business, but here are the top 4 things to mistakes to avoid when nurturing a startup:

1.Being too rigid in your business approach and not adapting to change quickly.
2.Inability to fathom the timing of launching the startup. An off timing leads to launching too quickly or too late.
3.Making hiring decisions based on cost-cutting and setting up an inadequate team of incompetent members.
4.Mismanaging cash flow.

How do you know if a startup is not doing well?

For a startup to reach success, it may have to spin several times until it finds the right mix of product-market fit. If not, that is usually a sign the end is near.

How many start up businesses succeed?

According to the Census Bureau, data shows business success rates ranging from 30–50% across all industries. The failure rate across all business ventures tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is just over 50%, accounting for a five-year timeline.