A Crucial Mistake Made by Entrepreneurs

One of the crucial mistakes made by budding entrepreneurs is that they start big, without much thought.

What does this mean?

In the entrepreneurship world, thinking big is a term that is used quite often.

But it is a dangerous term.

While there is nothing wrong with thinking big, it’s often a misleading way of getting encouraged to start something.

Many entrepreneurs I see interpret thinking big as starting big.

That’s where they go wrong.

Let’s take an example to understand this.

Let’s say you want to start a café but have no prior experience of doing so.

You may think it’s your passion and that it’s something you would enjoy.

The mistake you can make there is to start big.

Starting big would be to apply for a business loan, get a space for your café, invest in equipment, stock and staff and then hope that it will all work out.

Let’s take another example.

Let’s say you are interested in online marketing and want to start an online marketing agency.

Starting big would mean you start looking out for big clients, get an office and hire employees.

Starting big looks good on paper but comes with one crucial flaw.

Which is that all the effort is based on an invalidated belief system.

Too much has been put in but without any validation.

What is this validation?

I’m not just talking about the validation that your business has to make money.

There’s a far more important validation that precedes that.

Which is – Do you like what you are doing?

Do you like the activities that are going into running your business?

Then comes the validation of whether people are actually interested in buying your product or service.

You have to realise that starting a business is not completely a logical affair.

It cannot be.

If you start something, it will consume you totally.

I’m not saying you will have to work 24/7 (in fact, the biggest myth is that entrepreneurs have to work very hard, but I’ll save that one for a later article).

When I say it will consume you, I mean it will become a part of you.

There is no question of work-life balance like you may have in a job.

In entrepreneurship, your work is life and life is work.

Your business is your lifestyle.

And how can something be a part of your lifestyle if you don’t like the activities that go into it?

So what’s the solution?

The solution is to start small.

In the aforementioned examples, the person interested in a café should not simply jump into starting an actual café.

Instead, he or she should test the waters by starting small.

They can open-up a small stall first or start from their home and cater only to their friends initially.

This way, there will be no pressure, but it will give them an idea of the actual effort involved in running a real café.

They will get a taste of the activities that they are required to do.

If they like those activities, they will have real action-based validation that their desire to start a café is a genuine one and not based on some wishful thinking.

Similarly, the person looking to start an online marketing agency can start off as a solo freelancer.

This will give that person an idea of all that goes into running an agency.

The key is to get a little taste first.

I remember something similar happening to my friend.

She loved cooking and always wanted to start a night tiffin delivery company that caters to working professionals.

This meant that she had to cook late into the night.

She and her partner printed business cards, got the menu designed and started a website, even though they had never really put any of their theory into action.

And within the first few days, she told me what I had expected to hear –

Kush, I HATED cooking that late into the night and with so much pressure on me!

They shut that business down before it even took off.

They would have been better off had they first only “test-driven” their plan on their friends.

Then all those costs that went into making their promotional materials would have been saved, never mind the emotional turmoil that they had to endure.

My friend would have easily got the validation that even though she loves cooking as a hobby, it was not something that she would have enjoyed doing under entrepreneurial pressure.

The thing is that life doesn’t always work logically.

We may think we like something but the reality can be totally different.

Starting small allows you to taste that reality.

In my case, when I started my photography workshops, I did so with the validation that I loved teaching.

The validation lay in the fact that I had already taught other subjects before and always loved teaching.

But I still did not start big because I had never taught photography before.

So before trying to arrange a group workshop, I tested the waters by doing a one-on-one session just to see whether my student would like it and more importantly, whether I will like it.

Both the things worked – I loved it and so did the person I taught.

This is not to say that this will be a foolproof plan. Nothing can guarantee sustainability but a business based on real validation will always have a higher chance to stand the test of time.

So next time you plan on starting something, start small, test the waters and once you validate your idea, go fully into it.

It will not only ensure that you stand a higher chance of succeeding but also keep you relatively stress-free.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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