Entrepreneur Red Flags: Avoiding Start-up Mistakes

Dorian Sabo

Dorian Sabo

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Not all businesses can succeed. Even industry leaders can fall overnight. However, new and small businesses have a much larger chance of failing. Some reports mention an up to a 90% chance of failure! That’s why these businesses need all the help they can get.

In the last few years, I have talked with dozens of business owners – from people who are just starting to CEOs of well-established firms. During our conversations, I recognized some differences in people’s mindsets. I noticed some owners showed certain red flags in the way they talked. And lo and behold, people who exhibited these red flags had problems with their businesses in the future. Some even had to close their operation.

These are just some of the mistakes owners made. I’m also including advice on how to avoid these pitfalls and risk business failure. 

They don’t do any market research…

If you run a business – you should be aware of what’s happening on the market at all times. You should closely follow the newest trends, customer behavior, and what your competitors are doing. Things can change overnight and you have to be able to adapt. 

Don’t forget that knowledge is power. The more insight you have, the better decisions you can make. The easiest way to scale your business is to be one step ahead of everyone else. If you can’t spare the time to do detailed market research, invest in an agency like Adonomy to do it for you. Agencies have the necessary experience to quickly define the strengths and weaknesses of your corner of the market. They might even find opportunities for you that you overlooked.

…and thus don’t know what makes them stand out

Having a unique selling proposition (USP) is what shapes your business. It differentiates you from everyone else and it greatly affects everything you do – from client acquisition to everyday processes. Defining a clear USP is one of the results of proper market research.

Your USP should be tangible and easily described. For example, Adonomy’s USP is that we are a very agile marketing agency. The way we organize our business processes allows us to have short delivery times. That way we can deliver a project in just a fraction of the time some other agencies might need.

They are idea people

Being an idea person isn’t necessarily bad. Every large and successful organization should have a few idea people. They can think outside of the box and come up with new suggestions. Also, all startups begin with some new idea.

The idea people I talk about are the ones who never see their ideas through. They can be extremely original, but they lack in execution. A mediocre, realized idea is infinitely better than a perfect but theoretical idea. Therefore, invest some time in thinking about how to actualize your ideas. Think of all the concrete steps you have to take, and then see them through.

They don’t take criticism very well

Not everyone who criticizes your idea is an a**hole. Low self-esteem has no place in business. Listen to other people and take their unique insight in. That of course doesn’t mean that every form of criticism is valuable. But if you start getting angry at the first sight of criticism, I have bad news for you – your business is going to fail.

No one is perfect and knows all. You can’t expect all your ideas to make perfect sense. Surround yourself with different people you trust can give you constructive criticism. It will make your business a lot stronger. 

They underestimate marketing

This one puzzles me the most. Marketing is extremely important at all stages of your business – but especially in the beginning. You are a new player on the market, how do you plan on getting your piece of the pie? Your customers won’t be miraculously introduced to you overnight. You need to go out and find them.

Marketing of your business and sales are so crucial that you should have them defined even before you start. You can always research online and find out how other brands market themselves in your industry. That way you can devise a proper advertising strategy. 


Running your own business is no simple task. You’ll constantly encounter challenges and problems. That’s why it’s no surprise a lot of start-ups don’t make it. In my talks with business owners, I managed to define some red flags. If you are making some of these mistakes, there’s an even higher chance you will fail. 

So at all times, you should be familiar with the market and your unique selling propositions. Make sure to try and realize the ideas you have. Be open to criticism and willing to change. And finally, do not underestimate the power of good marketing. 

There are a lot of resources online for you to solve these issues. And if you need some extra help, we at Adonomy can assist you.

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