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13 mistakes I made as a first-time founder
It's been 5 years since I started my business, and I made every mistake in the book. Here are the top 13 mistakes I made.
Mistake #1 - Not running paid ads
I believed that organic traffic was superior to paid traffic. In a way, it's true. Someone deliberately searching for your product is better than someone who just happened to see an ad. But I thought that paid ads were "evil" and I shouldn't "trick" people into buying.
It took me years to conclude that paid ads are a more efficient way to let people know your brand exists. Otherwise, how would anyone know?
I shifted my mindset from "tricking" to "helping" customers find us.
Look at the biggest companies in the world. How does everyone know about them? Paid advertising!
Mistake #2 - Doing everything on my own
Don't get me wrong. When starting out, you need to do everything on your own. In fact, that's how I learned everything about my business. But I was adamant about doing everything. I remember wasting hours learning QuickBooks. Instead, I should've hired a freelance accountant. (Here's why I stopped learning on my own.)
Mistake #3 - Not hiring early
This ties in with Mistake #2. You must start hiring once you realize your business is stuck and the bottleneck is your time. It's not necessary to hire full-time employees. You can hire contractors or freelancers.
Mistake #4 - Not investing enough money early
For a long time, I let the business run at half capacity. If I invested more money, I could've grown it much faster. But, coming from a middle-class family, it took me some time to adjust to each level of earning potential.
Mistake #5 - Not taking enough risk
Leaving my full-time job to start my business was a big risk, and it paid off. But over the years, I became conservative. I didn't take enough risks even when I knew I was on the right path. I made decisions out of fear instead of boldly marching forward with conviction.
Mistake #6 - Not creating systems
Everything about my business was in my head. I didn't document the processes from the beginning. I had to relearn tasks that I figured out but forgot over time.
Mistake #7 - Perfectionism
Instead of shipping fast and getting customer feedback, I kept on "improving."
Mistake #8 - Not keeping accounts
For at least a year, there were no company accounts. I didn't hire an accountant and thought I was doing a great job. Only later did I realize that I was not making a profit.
Mistake #9 - Fixing things that didn't need fixing
At any given time, there will be so many things in a business that need fixing. But it doesn't mean that you have to fix everything. You need to fix things that move the needle. Here's how to find them.
Mistake #10 - Being hesitant to pivot
When I started Jumpbooks.lk, we sold only nonfiction books. I didn't want to sell anything else. While this helped us become a category leader, it also shunned half our potential customers: fiction lovers. I didn't realize until later that including fiction didn't undermine my mission to sell nonfiction.
Mistake #11 - Didn't delegate enough
Even when I had a team, I didn't delegate enough. I kept many things to myself, thinking others couldn't do it. In matters of pricing or merchandising, I did everything, and looking back, I did it poorly. When I finally involved the team, the decisions were made faster.
Mistake #12 - Had too many goals
I was following too many goals in the beginning. From sales to IG followers, I was all over the place. It took a couple of years to hone in on the most important goal. That's sales for us.
Mistake #13 - Underspending
I remember using two MailChimp accounts when I surpassed the 2000 free subscriber limit. Instead of saving money, I should've focused on making more.
I hope you learn from the mistakes I made. Even though I call them "mistakes," they are lessons in disguise. So don't be afraid to make mistakes in your journey.
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