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The Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make



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“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” – Linus Pauling

Yes, entrepreneurs make many mistakes on their way to success. Joe had been working for a big advertising agency when he decided that he wasn’t fulfilled. During his work at the agency he had mentored dozens of college students and really enjoyed it. He left the advertising world and started a consultancy business for college students, hoping the eager job seekers would pay for tips to get ahead in the competitive marketplace. He spent $3,000 to get a website up and running. Then he sat back and waited for customers. And waited…..and waited.

There was not a single email. Not even a phone enquiry.

He then decided to talk to students. That is when he discovered that they didn’t have the financial means to pay for his consultations. There were no customers who were willing and able to pay for his services. That is a common mistake in entrepreneurship.

When the early mobile phone companies started operations, they devised a way of telling customers about problems with their networks, through text messages. One day someone discovered that through the facility, he could send a message to another subscriber. On December 3, 1992, Neil Papworth sent an SMS with the text “Merry Christmas” to Richard Jarvis over the Vodafone network in the UK.

The trend slowly caught up but some companies tried to limit the facility because they had no system for charging for it. That was until Radiolinja (now part of Elisa) in Finland came up with a way of billing it. It eventually became a major source of revenue for mobile networks. (Until Whatsapp, that is).

It could have been a mistake to keep SMS as a network information platform. But whoever invented it did not expect that it would be applied to customer to customer messaging.

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is to forget the essential key to entrepreneurial growth: CONTINUOUS INNOVATION. We mistake our startup for a business and carry on with the business models from the 80’s.

A startup is a temporary vehicle that entrepreneurs use to search for a workable, viable and profitable business model. Your product or service is an experiment to begin with. You want to see if the business model works. Unfortunately some entrepreneurs get married to the initial idea and refuse to experiment with it and innovate. That is the reason most of our once successful companies are struggling today.

Without innovation, there is no renewal and no growth. Experiment with your business model. Try new things. You will find a model that will take your business to another level.

Check out the Fast Lean Smart Startup page on my website and share your thoughts on this issue.


Phillip Chichoni is the founder of Admiral Business Systems, a firm which provides business development consultancy and training. He is the author of books that include Business Planning Simplified and High Impact Low Cost Marketing Strategies for SMEs and publisher of BusinessLink Magazine. You can contact him for all your business plans, company and PBC registration, marketing advice, tax consultancy and accounting, his email is chichonip@smebusinesslink.com or visit http://smebusinesslink.com.

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  • Step by Step Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe -19 March
  •  Writing an Effective Business Plan-20 March
  •  Marketing and Selling Strategy for Solid Results- 21 March. For detailed information, please visit http://smebusinesslink.com/2014/03/03/6738/




NB: Business guide books available, for more information please go to http://smebusinesslink.com/businesslink-resources/


1 Comment

  1. Sam says:

    Great thoughts Phillip. Challenge is most entrepreneurs do husslt and innovate during the early days when revenues are low. As soon as they get “comfortable” they think they are set forever and just let innovation die. Great reminder, will keep that at the back of my mind

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