My Blog

By Helen Jamieson

Five big mistakes female startups make

18 March

five big mistakes female startups makeI have been an entrepreneur for over 17 years. During that time I have made more mistakes than you could even begin to imagine. I continue to make mistakes but I also continue to learn from those mistakes and each year I grow a little wiser!

Today I wanted to share the mistakes that I see other women who are just starting up in business make most frequently. Recognising these mistakes and taking steps to avoid them could save numerous women unimaginable hours and stress. It could also make many women business owners significantly more profitable than they might otherwise be.

Mistake one – Testing ideas

Given how much blood, sweat and tears is often put into getting a business off the ground, I find that many women undermine themselves from the very start by not testing their business ideas properly.

Often people will bring their business idea to me. They present their idea with enthusiasm and passion and ask for my opinion. However, my experience has been that what they really want is my approval rather than my opinion. In fact I have noticed that any opinions I give that don’t fit with their own views of how wonderful the idea is, are simply ignored or rejected as irrelevant. And I have seen women do the same to the family and friends they approach.

I also see a very haphazard approach to ideas testing. Ideas are tested on people a budding entrepreneur happens to meet or talk to across a few weeks or months. A far better approach would be to plan out who you want to speak to and be really clear about why their opinion will be informed and relevant.

If you are testing ideas, test them with people who

  • will give you honest feedback and are capable of giving you honest feedback
  • are likely to be those who would be buying from you
  • feel no need to stroke your ego.

Mistake Two – Thinking small

Being too cautious and too self effacing often causes women to think small in business. But if we think small at the start, then this may well impact how we set up our business, the financing we seek, how we present our business ideas and how we view ourselves.

I think more women ought to examine at the outset why they are thinking small, challenge themselves on why they are doing this and ask themselves what would have to happen to enable them to think big.

Mistake three – Head talk

The internal discussions you have with yourself – in your head can make the difference between making it in business and not making it in business. Phrases such as ‘am I good enough’, ‘what if I fail’, ‘how will this affect my family and other relationships’, ‘I’m not sure’ all undermine our ability to achieve to our potential.

Beginning to address this damaging ‘head talk’ before you ever launch your business could save you years of heartache and hassle. You have to address your head talk at some point, so why not deal with it before it impacts your business.

Mistake four – Formality

Perhaps as a consequence of my first three points, women often shy away from creating formality in their businesses. They don’t put a business plan in place, they don’t budget, they don’t create a formal strategy, and they don’t conduct formal market testing. In fact, women often go so far as to employ their first employees on a ‘friends’ basis with no formality in the relationship at all. And they often do the same with suppliers.

But this lack of formality creates uncertainty, increases risk and guarantees a lack of focus and clarity of purpose and action that is essential if you wish to make your business a success.

Mistake five – Not knowing what success looks like

To a degree I have left the most important to last! How many women business owners can tell you what success looks like to them? How many know when the time will be when they can stand up and say ‘I did it’. When can they turn to the disbelievers and say ‘look at what I achieved’. When can they face any potential investors and say ‘you would be crazy not to invest in this phenomenal business I have created’.

The reality is that in thinking small and keeping it informal most women cannot tell you what success looks like to them. But if you don’t know where you are headed, how will you know when you get there? Perhaps this is the reason so many women endlessly feel as though they haven’t quite made it, they haven’t quite shown the world what they are capable of.

So put this right today. Write down a sentence now that explains what success looks like to you. And to get you really thinking about what success looks like, here are a few things you might consider:

  • Annual profit
  • Giving back to the community
  • Development of your own skills
  • Legacy for your children
  • Your personal salary
  • Where, how and who you are trading with

Just five mistakes that so many women make, but now it’s over to you to decide if you want to get it right first time or if you , like me, are going to be learning the hard way!

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. If you would like any one to one coaching as you develop and grow your business please do get in touch. And if you want to see the business I am really proud to have created, why not check it out

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