Common mistakes when starting a business

We live in an age when virtually anyone can start a business. But to be successful it takes more than just a great idea, and there are many obstacles to face along the way which may weed out many of those who are less determined or prepared for the challenges of running a business. Here we present some of the most common pitfalls that can prevent success when setting up your business and some productivity tools that will help you from the start.
Woman sitting at the desk while speaking on the phone, probably starting a business

With a new year fast approaching, now is a time that many enterprising individuals may be thinking about starting a business. Along the way there will be many opportunities, but there may also be a good number of pitfalls and obstacles to negotiate.

By being aware of these in advance, and preparing appropriately, you can help to ensure that when your business actually launches, you will be in the best possible position. To aid you in your preparation, here we look at some of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make, and what you can do to avoid them when starting a business.

Going it alone

    If you’ve got a great idea for a business then it may be tempting to do it all yourself, to take all the glory, and the profits, as it were. But starting a business alone can be hard, at times perhaps too hard. There are a number of reasons why it may be better to go in with a partner:

    • Bouncing ideas – If it’s just you, your ideas can quickly become stale, and you may not spot the opportunities and pitfalls present that may emerge when brainstorming with someone else.
    • Sense checking – Many business failures that occur are down to just one bad decision being taken at some point along the process. Having someone else to pore over these decisions with beforehand can help avoid such failures.
    • Motivation – Everyone feels a little unmotivated at times, particularly if they’re not sure if what they are trying is going to work. Partners can spur each other along and provide reassurance when confidence is at a low ebb.

    Of course, the wrong partner can be worse than going it alone, so make sure that you have similar values and work ethics from the outset. And if you’re determined to do it by yourself, do consider looking into any resources and support that may be available to you, such as local entrepreneurship networks, and national schemes like Startup Britain and Business Launchpad.


      Today there are thousands upon thousands of businesses, so it’s important to ensure that someone else isn’t doing exactly the same thing as you, in the same way and with the same target market. Do your research beforehand to avoid frustration further down the line.

      Being disorganised

        Starting a business is a sizeable undertaking, and if you’re not well organized from the start you can soon become buried under a mountain of ideas, tasks and paperwork. Here you have one advantage over the entrepreneurs of the past, in the form of digital software tools to aid business productivity. Task management and collaborative tools such as Wrike and Trello can help you keep on top of what needs to be done when, while professional PDF software like Nuance’s Power  PDF can be used to capture and store digitally all necessary paperwork, from blueprints and correspondences to invoices and plans. Of particular benefit here is the capability to search through all documents instantly for required information.

        With optical character recognition (OCR) technology such as that offered by Nuance Omnipage meanwhile, you can even edit scanned documents digitally as needed, as you would any other digital document. And by going digital, you can also reduce your costs significantly.

        Being too close-minded

          While it’s important to be consistent and have a strong plan, you should also avoid becoming too attached to your original plan, particularly if parts of it are not working. Be open to new ideas, and ask others for feedback, particularly customers or potential customers.

          Ignoring the market

            You should also take time to ensure that there is actually a decent-sized market for what you have to offer. Your business is unlikely to be successful if you created a solution for a problem that didn’t exist, or if you didn’t have the end user in mind when creating your product/service.

            There will of course always be obstacles that you will encounter and must overcome when setting up a company, but if you can avoid some of these larger ones from the outset then you’ll have a better chance of success.

            Take a look at how digital document imaging can help you gain control of your business’ paperwork and processes from the start.


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