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7 Deadly Sins of Teen Small Business Ownership

Shonika Proctor

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Many people are quick to tell you what you need to do in order to succeed in business. But not so many people are explaining what not to do. And as it happens, knowing what to avoid, the common mistakes made by so many people who've failed at fulfilling their vision and living their dreams, is at least as critical for success as knowing what to do. Because of that, I've put together this handy and invaluable list of the 7 big 21st Century no-no's (aka ‘The Small Business Disruptors 2.02) in making your small business work for you. You've heard all the “Do's", these are the “Don'ts", and whatever you do, don't you forget them! Brouhaha!!

1. Being a Jack of All Trades: A jack of all trades is a master of none, and success in business requires being the master of whatever it is you do. Small businesses that specialize in a specific area of their industry, catering to a niche market, tend to perform much better than those who attempt to have their hands in every pot in an effort to appeal to the whole swath of consumers out there. In business, it's far better to be an expert in one subject than to know a little bit about a lot of things.

Target your branding and marketing efforts to the specific group you serve. You're not out to win over the entire marketplace, and more, you never will. Concentrate your efforts on your target market and establish yourself as the authority in your specific niche. By laser-honing your branding and marketing efforts so, you'll save valuable funds from wasted efforts, and give your small business the greatest chance of becoming the recognized leader in your field.

2. Being a Know-it-All and Do-it-All: Along those same lines, don't try to do it all yourself. Having a business isn't supposed to create more work for you to do, it's supposed to create less and, conversely, more money and free time for you to explore more pleasurable pursuits.

Henry Ford is reputed as being one of the smartest minds of his time, and not because his head was filled with extensive knowledge on every subject. It wasn't. What made Henry Ford so smart was that he knew exactly who to ask for the correct answer to any question posed to him.

Take after Mr. Ford. Surround yourself with smart people in the areas where you'll need that knowledge put to work for your small business. That way, you can free your mind to focus on whatever it is you do best while you delegate the rest of the tasks you need accomplished to those people who have the most expertise in them. This is what is meant by “leveraging your resources". Avail yourself of the abundance of talented people out there - employees, associates, and freelancers alike. Outsource the work you need done. Your job is to hold the big picture in mind, not to personally handle ever nitty-gritty detail that arises.

3. All Work & No Play: As mentioned above, you presumably created this small business so that you could have more control over your time and greater access to the money that reaches the top of the food chain before it trickles down to the bottom rungs. Therefore, don't wait until you've achieved what you view as “success" before you allow yourself that flexibility and freedom.

Running a business requires a lot of you, and there is no way you will be able to manage all those demands if you're overworked and overtired. Prevent burnout before it happens. Allow yourself time to rest, recuperate, and play. Owning a business is about improving your quality of life, and there's no reason you can't start doing that right now.

Schedule in your free time if you must. And hold yourself as accountable for your own well-being as you do for your business accomplishments. Your only shot at success in business rides on you being present, alert, healthy, and happy enough to be able to make it happen.

4. Having a B Plan, Not a Plan B: Very few people get it right the first time, and that applies no less when it comes to success in business. There is no shame in having a Plan A that doesn't work. Learning what doesn't work, in fact, is one of the greatest ways to find out what does work.

The danger comes in when you are unwilling to recognize that your Plan A isn't working, whether out of ignorance, fear, or just plain stubbornness. Going hand-in-hand with that is a perilous lack of an alternate plan to the one that's not working.

Devise a Plan B that further refines and simplifies Plan A because Plan A is what you really want to do right? That way it won't be such a big deal when you discover that your current course is off, because you'll quickly, easily, and deftly be able to course correct with your next best plan of action.

5. Following History. . . Not Creating It: History belongs to those who write it. This isn't to say that it's unwise to learn from the successes and failures of your predecessors. On the contrary, those who came before you have a great deal to teach you. And learning from the mistakes of others is one of the fastest ways to hop on the fast track to success.

The “sin" being addressed here is about blazing ahead without keeping detailed and accurate records of your journey. How will you ever know how well you are doing if you aren't tracking your actions? Document everything you do - your intellectual property, ideas, steps, and processes.

Building a business is just that - building. And to build a solid, lasting business you need a strong foundation. Your records of all that you've done to date is that foundation, supporting all that your business achieves from this point on. With no such foundation, any business can crumble to dust at the slightest shake-up. Don't let that happen to you.

6. Avoiding Problems: If you're avoiding problems then you're also avoiding solutions. Problems = Opportunities. If you're avoiding problems then you're letting fear rule your business. Fear of trying and failing. You need to risk failure in order to achieve success, and if you shy away (or all-out run) from problems then you are cheating yourself of the possibility of breaking through them.

This point cannot be stressed enough. You must seek out problems, not avoid them. Look for problems. Embrace them as your ripest opportunities for major breakthrough.

7. Focusing Too Much on the Details: By now you've probably noticed that these “deadly sins" of business management (and their antitheses - strategies for success) are all interrelated, and it's no different with this last common error. As mentioned above, your number one job is to hold the big picture for the business in mind. Learn to build a network in which you can leverage other people in your network to provide expert opinion and simple solutions for your seemingly complex problems.

Even if you're currently the only “employee" you've got, you still need to view every last aspect of your business (no matter how small) as it applies to the larger picture. But if you focus on the details, you only create more details. So focus on the overall vision and you will help flesh it out and bring it to life.

It's extremely easy to get mired down in the minutiae of your business, but that's the quickest and easiest way to mire down your entire business. Instead, step back and examine the big picture. When you do that, you'd be surprised at how naturally the minutiae suddenly seems to fall right into place. No matter how stressful something may feel at the moment, keep moving swiftly towards the bigger goal and you will discover that once you get to the ‘problems’ that you were initially stressed out about everything and everyone you need will be there when you get there. And yes, they will be ready and willing to help you easily and quickly get through it.

Shonika Proctor aka the Nika'Nator is demolishing doubt and building dreams as an avant-garde teen entrepreneur coach for emerging CEO's ages 18 and younger. Her free 10 day ecourse “The Making of a (Teen) Renegade CEO" is available at:


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