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Avoid pitfalls when starting a business


There’s a lot involved in starting a business…and a lot of traps, too. Here’s an overview of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Becoming paralyzed with fear

Going into business for yourself takes courage to say the least! “People often wonder if they’ll be able to pay all their bills, and for good reason. Making ends meet can be tough the first month,” says Gaétan Chaurest, who works as the coordinator of a vocational training program called Starting a Business, at the Compétences Outaouais center, in Quebec.

Mistake #2: Letting your first refusal get you down

“If you believe in your idea, you’ve got to persevere,” explains Nancy Mercier, a business start-up counsellor at Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi in Montreal, an organization that helps people aged 16-35 find jobs or go back to school. Trouble convincing banks or friends to get on board could be a sign that your project is too ambitious or not well defined. Try clarifying the concept or reducing the scope to prove that it is a good investment.

Mistake #3: Investing major dollars all at once

Some entrepreneurs just starting out buy everything new: a big truck, a powerful computer, stylish furniture. Instead, Mercier advises business owners to “be prudent and buy used equipment or borrow things from people you know. You can always buy new items once you’re making enough to pay them off easily.”

Mistake #4: Thinking you can do it all

When you start your own business, you’ve got to create a product, think of a marketing strategy, do the accounting and find the financing. But most people just aren’t talented in all these areas! “You have to be able to delegate tasks that you find difficult to professionals. You may even be able to exchange services with other entrepreneurs you know,” explains Chaurest. For example, you might want to offer translating services to your accountant in exchange for some hours of bookkeeping.

Mistake #5: Advertising that’s off the mark

Advertising doesn’t come cheap. To reach potential clients, you’ve got to find them first. “There’s no point in advertising a product for teens in a newspaper with a largely adult readership,” points out Chaurest. If you want to market to young people, make sure you choose websites or magazines that target that sector. The right approach will save you both time and money – two things you’ll need in the months and years to come!