Learning Series

July 21 2016 // 5:00 AM

What Not to do When Starting Your Own Business

Written by Dave Huffman |

What Not to do When Starting Your Own Business

Welcome back to Savant. I am guest blogger Dave Huffman, back for another attempt. I am a professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in the design field. I have worked for architects, contractors, engineers, and I ran my own engineering firm for a number of years.

When you’re starting your own architectural and/or engineering business, or already own a small business, there are a lot of people ready to give you advice on what to do to start up and run your business successfully. You may have run afoul of some bad advice, although I am sure it is all meant to be very helpful. My objective is to tell you some of the pitfalls and things you should not do when you start a firm. Having been self-employed, I have a lot of experience on how not to do things.  

  1. Do Not believe you already know everything there is to running a business.  You don’t.  No matter how much you try to prepare by reading books, blogs, magazines, and any other material you are able to find, it does not prepare you for most things, let alone everything you are going to need to know.

  2. Do Not fail to set up your business plan and continuously update it.  You’ll most likely need to keep adjusting it as your business grows and changes.

  3. Do Not try to do everything yourself.  There are not enough hours in the day to do everything that goes into running your business.  While the ultimate responsibility falls to you, get help.  You probably can’t be your own sales force, marketer, advertiser, designer, draftsperson, accountant, and attorney… You are only 1 person.

  4. Do Not believe you know how to set up your business, unless of course you have a law degree.  The complexities, vagaries, and legal jargon you will need to deal with can be daunting if you are not familiar with them.

  5. When you are ready to hire an employee, Do Not hire them because they are a friend, or a friend of a friend, or client.  Carefully vet them to be certain they will fit into your culture and are qualified.

  6. Do Not be afraid to pull the trigger if there is someone you feel you need to fire, whether an employee or a client.

  7. Do Not be afraid to turn down work.  You do not want to be overwhelmed to the point that you are unable to meet deadlines or complete the work to your standards.

  8. Do Not be afraid to close the doors and walk away.  Sometimes, knowing when to get out is the most important thing to know.

I believe it is as important to know what to not do as it is what you should do. Do Not be afraid to try, but be aware of some of the problems you may experience, and try to avoid the major pitfalls. Take it from someone who’s been there before and made the mistakes already, so you won’t have to!   

Good luck in your future endeavors. Until next time, I’m Dave Huffman.

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