What are mistakes that first-time entrepreneurs make?

What Are Mistakes That First-Time Entrepreneurs Make?

What Are Mistakes That First-Time Entrepreneurs Make?

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Jan. 5 2016 7:36 AM

What Are Mistakes That First-Time Entrepreneurs Make?

business woman.
Every person in the company should have one clear thing he or she is working on at a time.

Photo by Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

This question originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Answer by Auren Hoffman, former CEO of LiveRamp, started and sold five companies (and many more that failed):


The most common mistake for entrepreneurs is that they do things in parallel rather than in series. Entrepreneurs should be much more focused. Instead of trying many things at once, you should focus on one thing at a time and really dive in (and not do anything else). These are the three things that entrepreneurs be vigilant about:

Parallel strategies. The business should have one overarching, clear strategy and one big bet. All the strategy eggs should be in one basket. Microbets can be a good idea for large companies (such as Exxon), but they doom small companies to failure because of lack of focus. If the bet turns out to be wrong, you pivot and change strategies. But the important thing is that you give the strategy a chance to succeed by really focusing on it. And every employee in the company needs to clearly understand the strategy.

Parallel paths within functions. Not only should every company have one clear strategy, but every organization within the company should too. Marketing organizations should only have one new strategy to acquire customers at a time. If you think search engine optimization is a good strategy to acquire customers, then just focus on SEO until it is clearly working great and there is no more investment in the channel that will yield good results, or you have determined it is not a good customer acquisition channel and you stop doing it. Doing two new things at once is not a good idea. Remember, series beats parallel. 

Parallel activities by your people. Every person in the company should have one clear thing he or she is working on at a time. If you ask someone in the organization what he is working on and he rattles off five things, you know there is a core management problem. Everyone should be focused on accomplishing one core task at any given time. When he is done with the task (or it is determined that task is either no longer relevant or too hard to complete), then he can focus on the next task.