“The 5 Big Mistakes Entrepreneurs Should Never Make”

This article is an example speech project delivered by Oliver Tidman – a member of Waverley Communicators club. Oliver is the founder of Tidman Legal, an Edinburgh based law firm specialising in intellectual property, technology and business law for entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs. 

 

Starting out on any business journey is an exciting prospect. However, taking the leap of faith can be extremely daunting for the uninitiated! Someone once told me, ‘The net doesn’t appear until you’ve jumped!’ This is one of the truest things I’ve ever heard.

I have helped numerous business owners face challenges during their careers, and I include my own business within that list, but deciding to start-up or even change direction requires strength, courage and most importantly stamina!

On that basis, I have prepared a brief guide – by no means a bible on the subject – as to the five biggest mistakes entrepreneurs should never make. Let us begin with the first mistake.

1. Don’t give a bleep bleep; get out there and sell!

I was talking with a friend of mine last week about other people’s opinions on different topics. I asked him if he had ever heard of the ’20-40-60 Rule’? He hadn’t and was quite impressed with it.

The ’20-40-60 Rule’ is:

At 20, you care about what everybody thinks.
At 40, you don’t care about what anybody thinks.
At 60, you realize that people were not thinking about you to begin with!!

How many things do we do on a daily basis because we want to impress someone? How many things do we not do because we are embarrassed? How many times do we look back with regret for not doing something that we wanted to do? Life is to be enjoyed. We shouldn’t be holding ourselves back from doing the things we love because of the reaction we might get from someone else.

Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Everyone has the freedom to do what they want as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others. Why deprive yourself of something you want or want to do because you are afraid of what your friend, neighbour, workmate or relative might think.

The 20-40-60 Rule is surprisingly true. As people get older, they seem to care less and less about what other people think. If we realize now that in reality nobody is really analyzing the things we do, we can go out and do the things we want.

2. Don’t be a serial offender

Since it’s difficult to start a business by doing just one thing, entrepreneurs should avoid the trap of consecutively producing, marketing and selling.

By this I mean it is necessary for entrepreneurs to do all three at the same time! Thinking in a chronological order is prohibitive to growth.

3. Don’t mirror hire

If you are good at numbers, you should not focus on hiring someone who is also quantitative. For example, you should hire a good salesperson who has a different skill set and can pick up some of your slack. You may not have the most in common with this person, but then again, building a business is not about getting along with everyone!

4. Don’t scale too fast – you’ve got time!

There is a common misconception that entrepreneurs should scale their companies quickly in order to stay afloat. Remember, it is rare for start-ups to fail because they can’t scale their business fast enough. Selling your product or services should be the number one priority for new entrepreneurs. Scaling-up will then come at a natural pace so you’ve got time.

5. Don’t focus on the 1%

To illustrate, the UK pet population has over 8.5 million dogs. Each dog must eat and at least three times a day. If you could capture just 1% of that market, that’s 85,000 dogs and at least 255,000 cans of dog food each day!

There are two fundamental flaws with this. Getting 1% of any market is not that easy and, secondly, no investor ever wants to hear that you are only going to targeting 1% of the market.

Therefore, to stay on the road to business success, it is important for entrepreneurs to estimate their own sales rather than a slice of a total big market.

If you avoid these 5 big mistakes, you will go through good times, excitement and growth on your entrepreneurial journey. The feeling of welcoming your first customer and telling your friends and family. Elation when your first payments start coming in and testimonials and reviews from your customers for a job well done. The immense satisfaction knowing that you are helping your customers or your customers’ businesses to grow.

One of the biggest values I have found from running my own business is the sense of adventure that I experienced as a child and the free-reign to imagine where this adventure will take me. Furthermore, I can see in my clients what it is like to start to imagine what they can do with their own businesses.

Hopefully you will experience the same freedom of working for yourself, spending more time with your family and enjoy watching your children grow up.

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Breaking The Ice – Michael McLernan

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It was not like the Inquisition. You don’t expect the Inquisition!

I had scheduled my Ice Breaker speech for the 19th June, giving me plenty time to steam towards it like the Titanic, and hope to be more successful than she in actually breaking the ice that lay before me.  I should have known better than to make the comparison even mentally, for out of the blue one weekend came an opening for that very Thursday. Too late to turn. I had to take it head on.

Actually, doggerel aside (which I strongly advise you not to use in your speeches!) it was terrific! I had been going to the club, Waverley Communicators, since January, had been voted in in March, and you could not find a friendlier group of people anywhere, nor a mentor better than mine.

The Icebreaker speech is the first of the ten speeches in the ‘Competent Communicator’ manual of developing yourself as a public speaker. The purpose of the Icebreaker is to showcase, to yourself and to everyone else, your existing public speaking skills. Most of all, it’s to introduce yourself properly to your fellow Toastmasters.

But after you’ve been to the club for even a few sessions, there isn’t much ice left to be broken – it’s all been melted already by the sheer warmth of the atmosphere. (To say nothing of the room temperature, the radiators taking the name ‘Toastmasters’ a little too literally!).[That’s been fixed! The Ed.]

On the night, I went to the front of the room, clutching my notes like a comfort blanket, and was greeted with a warm handshake, a wink and a mouthed ‘Good luck’ from club stalwart Eileen Scott, and turned to face an array of smiling faces.
For the first speech, you are allotted four – six minutes. In twenty, as Philip Marlowe said, ‘you can sink a battleship, down three or four planes, hold a double execution. You can die, get married, get fired, and find a new job, have a tooth pulled, have your tonsils out.’ Approximately five minutes to say all you need to say should be a doddle. I took six and a half. What can I say – I find myself interesting subject! The challenge is to make your audience interested as well.

But the secret of the incredible success of Toastmasters in turning out confident and eloquent public speakers is not just the course itself, excellent as that is. It is the close knit community spirit, and the desire of everyone there to help improve everyone else. After each speech, your evaluator and your mentor give you both praise and advice, so you know what you’ve done well, and what you need to improve. You can relax among your fellow Toastmasters, and because of that the words flow, and the confidence builds.
After just four months there I have found myself at home as I have in few other places, and would eagerly recommend it to anyone.

Are you still here? What are you waiting for? Come down to 28 York Place on Thursday 1st May and see for yourself.

Post written by Michael McLernan

Member of Waverley Communicators

 

Never trust a camel…

Post by Johanne Burns, Member

Twenty members and seven guests attended the second meeting of 2012 on Thursday 26th January. The toastmaster of the evening was Paul Bailey who introduced the evening, spoke about the history of Toastmasters, and asked members of the audience to think about who they would like a day or evening named after. The answers included Beyoncé, Archie Gemmill, Willie Millar, Margaret Thatcher, and the founder of Toastmasters, Ralph C. Smedley. Continue reading