The Number One Mistake Entrepreneurs Make When Starting a Business

A few days ago, a friend reached out to me about a new business he’s starting. My friend and his business partner are planning to launch on Kickstarter later this month, and they’re creating an infographic to explain what differentiates their product from that of their competitors.

He sent me the infographic and asked for my feedback. My first question was, “Who designed this?”

“I drew it by hand,” he said, “and my partner made it in Photoshop.”

“He’s a graphic designer?” I asked.

“No, we’re both software engineers,” my friend answered.

Makes perfect sense. The infographic had amateur hour written all over it.

The problem that I’ve experienced in running my own businesses, and the same problem that I see amongst my entrepreneurial peers, is that we tend to be over-controlling and over-involved in our ventures. We want to do everything. We don’t just want to run a business; we want to build it with our own two hands. It’s literally like our baby; we won’t let it go.

While these intentions are perfectly okay and even natural for entrepreneurial personalities, I’ve found that the most effective entrepreneurs with the most successful businesses hone in on the things that they themselves excel in, and everything else they either outsource or find more qualified people to get the job done.

So when my friend asked for feedback about the infographic, I didn’t tell him what to improve. I told him that he should hire a graphic designer to do the job properly.

Because even if he was able to make improvements based on my feedback, it would still take him twice the amount of time to produce an infographic that will be half as effective as that of an actual graphic designer. The problem here is that he’s not just producing a half-ass product; the problem is that he’s taking up more of his time to produce a half-ass product. Double negative.

As an entrepreneur, the trick is not to be a jack of all trades. The trick is to identify your strengths, and fill in the gaps with other people who can help you take your business to where you want it to go.


Josh Hoffman (better known as Social Media Josh) is an international social media consultant, instructor and speaker, as well as the creator of The Social Media Freelancer. Connect with Josh on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and sign up to receive his weekly column.