Running your own business is a pipe dream for many, but those who are brave enough to stick their toe in the water are often rewarded when they’re their own boss. A recent survey discovered that 90% of the self-employed are happier than they were when they were in a traditional job. If you’re setting up your own business for the first time, it can be quite scary and many first-time entrepreneurs do make business mistakes. We’ve put together a list of the five most common pitfalls so you can do what you can to avoid them.

1) Not asking for help
Don’t be proud; you’ll need all the help you can get. Look for organisations, such as Wenta, that offer advice and training for people setting up their own business. You might know everything there is to know about your product or service, but running a business also involves doing the accounts, finding clients and customers, hiring suppliers, selling, marketing… you name it! And it’s your responsibility now!

2) Doing absolutely everything
According to new research, the thing that keeps most small business owners up at night is worrying about how to get new customers – if you’re concentrating on doing other things rather than selling, then it’s time to think about hiring other professionals, e.g. a casual worker or part-timer to help out with the day-to-day tasks, or get a bookkeeper or accountant to help you with your finances, leaving you free to concentrate on the things only you can do.

3) Not realising you are your own brand
You are not only the face of your new business, you are your new business. People will think of you and your brand as the same entity, so make sure they always have a good impression of both.

4) Ignoring networking groups
Business networking is a huge part of business for the sole trader. The famous adage is that ‘people buy people’, and the only way people will get to like you well enough to support your business is to get out there and meet them! Remember that all networking groups are different so give each one a go and stick to the ones most suited to your personality and budget. All networking groups are run by local business people, so if you’re unsure about working the room to start with, ask the organiser to introduce you to everyone.
Don’t expect to do business immediately. Networking is about building up your profile, so once you’ve found one, two or a few groups you really like, make sure you go to them as often as you can to give people a chance to get to know you. That’s when they’ll start buying from you themselves or recommending you to friends and family.

5) Not being open to ideas
Sometimes the idea behind your dream of having your own business turns out not to be the way forward. Don’t be stubborn about sticking to it just because it was your original ‘baby’. You’re in business to make money, so go with what works, not what you hope is going to work. Post-it® notes came about after a scientist tried to develop a super-strong adhesive. If he and his employer had simply dismissed it as a failure because it wasn’t sticky enough, it wouldn’t have ended up as a worldwide phenomenon.

Don’t make business mistakes – contact us for an appointment with one of our accountants for expert solutions and independent advice.