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10 common mistakes entrepreneurs make

The names behind companies such as Divine Chocolate, Go Daddy and Zaggora discuss what to avoid when starting a business...

Starting a business can often seem like an uphill struggle with several ‘firsts' and hurdles to overcome such as creating a business plan, finding office space, recruiting employees, advertising the business, the list goes on – and that's not to mention raising finance.

To make sure your start-up has the best chance of success we’ve gathered insights from some of the UK’s leading business owners on the common mistakes they see entrepreneurs make, and how you too can avoid making them…

1. Not having a clear business model

Arnaud Bertrand, co-founder of HouseTrip:

“Too often entrepreneurs have a tendency to hedge their bets by having a “fit-all” identity and a vague operating model, thinking they can adapt more easily – but that’s often a mistake. The best companies know exactly what they are about and are very clear on how they go about operating.”

2…and trying to be all things to all people

Lara Morgan, founder of Company Shortcuts:

“[The common mistake I see is a] lack of genuine and relentless focus on ONE key objective; of being the best at something in their sector and sticking to it, living it, breathing it and not being distracted.”

3. Pursuing an idea without researching the market

Martyn Dawes, founder of Coffee Nation (now Costa Express):

“[Entrepreneurs can] make too many assumptions about what their customers want and so they start to try and build a not completely proven and understood business. This usually unravels down the line.”

Dessi Bell, co-founder of Zaggora:

“The key is to try and launch even if it’s not the final product or service so you can test the market and collect customer feedback as soon as possible in order to bring the perfect product or service to the customer.”

4. Failing to make sure investors speak their language

Sophie Tranchell, founder of Divine Chocolate:

“If you take funding from people or companies that don’t share your values, it can be difficult to retain integrity and stick to your mission.”

5….and then not raising enough initial investment

Paul Currie, founder of Lakes Distillery:

“There must always be a balance between diluting your interest and making sure you have enough money to grow the business.”

6. Failing to recruit the right people for the job

Chris Morton, co-founder of Lyst:

“[Entrepreneurs often] compromise on team. It sadly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as subsequently they will only be able to continue attracting mediocre people. The best people typically only want to work with the best people.”

7. Being afraid to delegate

Stefano Maruzzi, vice president of of GoDaddy EMEA:

“Being an entrepreneur is a really tough job, much more than being a manager. The ability to truly delegate when an organisation reaches a certain size is […] the toughest challenge for someone who has built a business from scratch, considering the emotional element often associated with it.”

8. Not putting the right price margins in place

Duncan Cheatle, founder of Prelude Group:

“This is critical as any business without funding cannot scale unless margins are high enough to put cash into the business to hire the right people. If you get the wrong people you can’t then delegate and business owners get trapped in a dysfunctional micro business and struggle to break through to the next level.”

9. Believing business success will happen overnight

Phillip Letts, founder of the blur Group:

“We saw it in the dotcom era, and we’re seeing it to some extent with the new world of instant apps and firms. The reality is that you have to decide at the start to be in it for the long-term. The companies that make headlines very early on in their life are the exceptions, but often set the expectations for entrepreneurs.”

10. Letting work take over

Michelle Clothier, co-founder of Livity:

“Entrepreneurs should watch out for overloading themselves at the expense of having a balanced, fully rounded and joyful life. Starting up and growing your own business comes with great responsibility and takes effort and commitment. Even in a purpose first business, it’s essential to acknowledge that there’s more to life than just working.”


(will not be published)