Startup Cabin Blog

Don’t make these 5 mistakes of young entrepreneurs.

Posted by Xue Mei Rhodin on 05 December 2014


When you have startup rockstars and wiz kids from places like Facebook, Spotify, Uber and Oculus Rift plastered all over the media, it's easy to get caught in the hype and head off to be the next hot startup.

Those rockstars though are mostly 2nd level entrepreneurs who have had companies before. They have won and failed multiple times before we see them, and they have learned some things that unexperienced entrepreneurs have not.

Here are 5 common mistakes you should avoid as a young entrepreneur:

Many 1st level startup entrepreneurs.....

1. They think their idea is enough.

They love to talk about their idea. “I want to do this idea.” They don’t explain why they are the right fit, have the right team, or why they are in that market. When business advisors ask them who their competitors are and why they are in that market, they usually don’t have an answer.

2. They don’t want to take advice.

Their insecurity leads them to act as though they know stuff they really don’t. They don’t want to look stupid, so they act arrogant, and still look stupid. They don’t understand the reality that we all have times where we are clueless. And we need to be able to admit it and learn.

A mentor of mine had the opportunity to meet with Richard Branson. The first thing Richard did was ask him like 20 questions. He didn’t start spouting off what he thought, he asked questions. He is always looking for new input. He may not take all the advice he extracts, but he is keen on getting research and new angels on what he is doing. 

Experienced entrepreneurs are always wanting to get new perspectives and feedback. They are not holding their ideas too tightly. Anything that will make what they are doing better or more useful is good. Even if it isn’t as pretty as they first dreamed.

3. They don’t know the difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur.

And they don’t know the difference between a freelancer, business owner, and entrepreneurial innovator.
  • A freelancer works hours for other companies, and has no security.
  • A business owner manages a consistent process and is not creating anything new. These are more traditional businesses like franchises, law firms and so on.
  • An entrepreneur is trying to make stuff better. They want to build a “new kind of law firm”, and change the face of the market.
What are you?

4. They miss the value of good, everyday business owners.

They may not be on the cover a magazine, but they have built a team and know how to sell really well. Good business owners are everywhere, and they can teach us about sticking to a process day after day. There’s virtue in enduring through the years as you build up your company. This is one virtue 1st level entrepreneurs miss out on. They are not ready to do the daily work.

5. They underestimate relationships.

This is a huge deal!
  • They think that they can have a great skill, and not worry about connecting with people.
  • They will stand off to the side of mingle events.
  • They don’t know how to behave at a professional networking event. 
  • They will start to look around while someone is talking to them, because that person is not valuable or interesting. And they think their “I’m getting bored” thoughts don’t show. Mature business people can spot this behaviour from across a room and immediately write that rude person off.

This will cost immature entrepreneurs many contacts.Your personal brand is tied to your business, and it is a very fragile thing. You must be kind to everyone. Your values, and where you stand on ethical issues must be seen in your business. This will create stronger relationships and will inspire others. So avoid being generic, strictly business like a machine. Show your humanity, people like it.


The first venture an person has is the "higher education" of entrepreneurs. Many of the mistakes above are made, and many hard lessons are learned. But those who actively seek out feedback and remain teachable are going to be positioned to excel much faster and with much less pain. 

Is there a mistake you have made as a young entrepreneur? Perhaps you would like to share it with us in the comments and help others avoid it.


Topics: Marketing Strategy

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