When it comes to building a business — be it a small side hustle or a million dollar corporation — mistakes and challenges are inevitable. The best approach is to identify and learn from the lessons and takeaways in each mistake.

Here are 5 common mistakes you and your team can make and learn from to ensure the best outcome for your business.


Mistake #1: Ignoring the fundamentals


Keeping to the fundamentals of business is a solid way to ensure you stay in business.


Every true entrepreneur knows business plans are merely guardrails to keep you heading towards your goal. However, business is a learn-as-you-go kind of world. There is no “one and done” method that guarantees instant success.


The business fundamentals function as part of these guardrails. As in any practice, you need to learn the basics to be able to advance. If you try to advance too early, it will only result in making avoidable mistakes that will cost resources and, even worse, time.


The only way to learn the advanced rules is to do your homework, master the basics, and implement your learnings as effectively as possible.


The Takeaway?

In the beginning you rely on business guidelines and fundamentals completely. As you grow, you can move away from them a bit and explore, but your chief principles—time management, communication, your business plan—remain the same.


Mistake #2: Hesitation


When a business refuses to take action when action is clearly needed, there are bound to be problems. Technological advancement and scientific discovery are what drives business innovation. A leader in business has this huge high when they are selling the best product in their industry.


Problems may arise when pride takes over.


Henry Ford’s historical blunder is the perfect representation of prideful hesitation. Not five years after the wildly successful Model T hit the road, his advisors encouraged him to continue to innovate.


Whether Ford was comfortable with their product or afraid to move forward is completely up to speculation. But for whatever reason, Ford refused to heed his counselors’ advice to create a new vehicle to keep up with innovation.


Ford was away on vacation, so the story goes, when his team decided that they would take action where their leader was hesitating. When Ford returned to the new prototype design he was so enraged that he destroyed it with his own two hands.


Ford’s stubborn pride in this moment caused a major downturn in his business as the years went on. The company lost its position as a leader and it took decades before they were able to climb the ranks again.


The Takeaway?

When you have a business model that is working, don’t throw it away, but keep innovating. Build on your original ideas to something new that addresses current concerns. The global condition is constantly shifting. Every few years we need something new to fill in the gap. So take your original idea, build on the principles from there, and fill the gap.


Mistake #3: Not understanding the market


In 1985, Coca Cola decided to walk away from their original formula—the formula that had been making them millions for a century. Their idea was to reinvent their drink by making it sweeter than their competitor, Pepsi. Just as Henry Ford didn’t know how to let go, Coca Cola didn’t know how to see what their market was asking for by looking to innovate too soon.


While sales jumped in the beginning, the backlash from customers didn’t even wait a year.


The Takeaway?

When it comes to innovating, you need to ask yourself one simple question—is my product meeting my market’s needs? If yes, great. If not, what can I do to change it?


Mistake #4: Too much ad, not enough content


Using social media as a marketing platform is paramount in this modern market. However, there is a fine balance between an advertising and promotional push, and organic content.


Pay-per-click advertisements work well, but social media users are interested in meaningful content as well as your sales pitch. Creating compelling content is key to maintaining an engaged, interested customer base and building your brand presence, in addition to driving traffic to your website.


The Takeaway?

Users are interested in content. Don’t just sell them something; tell them a story. A far more effective method of marketing is creating a blog post answering a common question your consumers have.


Mistake #5: Not learning from your mistakes 


Listen to your advisors. Your team is there to help you see your blind spots and create actionable plans to overcome them.


Listen to your audience. Hear their needs. Hear where you are not meeting their needs and make changes.


Listen to yourself. If something feels off in your business plan, find it. Your instincts are probably right.


The Takeaway?

Learn from your past mistakes, and from these mistakes, make the changes and adjustments you need to build a stronger and more efficient business.



While making mistakes is an inevitable part of the business journey, recovery is possible. Having the humility to assess your situation from an objective point of view and then implementing an actionable plan within your business model is key to reinventing and pushing forward for a new era of success.



About the author

Michelle Laurey is a virtual assistant for small businesses and produces stories on finance, entrepreneurship and productivity to help individuals reach their full potential in life. Outside her keyboard she enjoys a good book, healthy food and bike rides. You can reach out to Michelle on Twitter.

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