Maybe your a freelancer or small business owner that fell into what they currently do. Maybe you weren’t a business major in college. Or maybe you weren’t born with perfect business sense, but you’re able to provide a great product or service that keeps you in business.

There are many mistakes small business owners can fix now, some of them hard, some easy. Follow these ideas so you won’t kick yourself later and wish you had done things differently.

Mistake #1: Not learning from others with a proven track record.

When I first went back to the gym, I felt as though I needed a mini demonstration on how to use some of the machines. I didn’t think the icons were self-explanatory at all. Instead of asking for help or getting a demonstration from a worker at the gym, I pushed a button called Quick Start.

You can bypass questions about incline levels or endurance and just get yourself moving. It starts off at a slow speed which you are able to adjust as you go. It’s a pretty standard button on most treadmills and stationary bikes.

I’ll admit that I use this button every time I work out and it’s served me well. The same “quick start” approach can work when you’re looking to launch a new product or service. Overthinking everything or writing long master to-do lists can work against you. No need to reinvent the wheel, learn from others who have had success and follow their blueprints to attempt to do the same.

Pro Tip to Learning is Listening

For instance, Michael O’Neal of the Solo Hour Podcast has ‘Free Coaching Friday’ on his popular show and gives detailed answers to listeners questions. On one episode, a listener asked how to juggle the demands of working for yourself with the responsibilities of being a father and husband along with how to get done what you need to do in the limited time block you have.

He gave a very detailed answer and compared it to remodeling a car. Though the question was for one specific person, the answer was appealing to many other listeners. It was delivered in an interesting way to keep the audience engaged. Try to reach out directly to the person you want answers from especially if they solicit for them. (That’s a free mini-coaching session. Shhh!)

He also offers up his formula for how to launch just about anything. He walks you through the steps of his recent side project called Beginner Audio File and explains the bare bones of what you need to build a brand from scratch in his episode called How to Launch Anything (episode number 541).

Mistake #2: Failing to save some of your profits

When you first start a business, it’s exciting to get your first client or two, send invoices and bring money in that you can actually reinvest into your business. Once you establish a steady flow of clients, it’s easy to get used to spending X amount of dollars whether it’s for the business or personal spending from your earnings.

While it’s tempting to do this since you feel that you put the hard work in at the beginning, be sure to set aside some savings. Leisa Peterson, Business Coach, Abundance Mentor and CFP®, believes this common mistake can be avoided by switching gears to save money once a business becomes profitable.

“In the first few years of starting a business your focus is to invest profits (and then some!) back into the business — the challenge is that at some point you have to be able to start saving money or you risk of losing out on years of savings (and the effect of compounding that helps you one day be able to retire).”

The solution: Peterson suggests to make saving a routine. If you only have a few hundred dollars or so to set aside, it’s a place to start.   You can increase it later as your profits increase.

Mistake #3: Not taking yourself seriously

Personal Finance Author and Entrepreneur Stefanie O’Connell points out that the biggest money mistake she notices freelancers making is failing to treat their business as a business.

“I know that when you’re first starting out, making a couple of hundred bucks on the side doesn’t feel like much of a business, but it should still be treated as such.”

She suggests setting up business accounts to keep self-employment and/or freelance income and expenses separate from personal accounts. This also makes things easier for accounting purposes come tax time.

Mistake #4: Relying to heavily on one or two workers

When you first start to hire people it’s tempting to hand over many responsibilities. One of my online friends built a website, podcast connected to a service based business. She needed to a hire someone to help with aspects that were outside of her skill set. Since he was the only other employee, he eventually left and unfortunately became her competition.

For this reason, Nathan Hirsch of thinks it’s a mistake to give too much responsibility to one or two workers. He stresses the importance of diversifying your team.  You can avoid potential burn out or having them leave with too much information. Either scenario can hurt your business.

He suggests spreading out the work and says

“Give work to the people that specialize in that work.”

This way, if someone leaves it won’t have a dramatic impact that can negatively affect your business. 

Mistakes Small Business Owners Can Fix Now: The Bottom Line

While there’s tons of information on the internet, it’s best to learn from pros that you’d like to  model.

Take advantage of any free information they offer to get started. Whether it’s getting publicity, downloading a free ebook on coding or outsourcing, it can shortcut your search for good information.

Use the ideas above to avoid common mistakes. They help cut back on the learning curve when handling growing you business.


Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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