In 2003, I started my first business. It was a fitness company called “The Fit Image.” We offered in-home personal training and massage therapy to upscale individuals in Southern California.

I was a new entrepreneur at the time and had slowly built up a strong clientele and a few loyal employees. Looking back, I made lots of big mistakes. I hurt people I worked with, missed out on killer opportunities, and was insecure as a leader.

Seven companies, $18 million, and over 100 employees later, I have identified most of my blind-spots. I've made the mistakes and now understand how to avoid them. Of all my experience as an entrepreneur, here are my top three mistakes to avoid in your early years.

1. Employees Are Not Like You
As an entrepreneur, we sometimes believe the rest of the world shares our disease. But they don't. Most of society is completely content with working for someone else and letting their dreams remain dreams. Early on, I made the mistake of expecting my staff and vendors to work like me, think like me, and act like me. But creation is your gift, not theirs.

Speak to employees how they need to hear it, not how you want to say it.

2. Be Transparent But Don't Forget Your Position
A mentor once told me, “Entrepreneurs get paid well because they bear the weight and responsibilities that employees don't have to.” I remember I would often find myself complaining to my staff about how hard it is to run a business. This was not healthy transparency. It was prideful complaining and I had no good reason to share it. This is pressure and workload that was required of me, not them.

It's lonely at the top. Deal with it or go work for someone who can.

3. Success Is Not About Money But Freedom
The entire entrepreneurial arena is so ridiculously focused around money that people who work 80 hours week and make $200,000 per year think they're successful. In my opinion, they just have two $100,000 jobs.

Success is freedom.

If you're capable of keeping expenses low and eliminating debt, then making $6,000-$9,000 per month is likely sufficient. If you can make that in 10 days per month, that's what makes you successful.

“you can always make more money but you can't make more memories.”

Are you a new entrepreneur? Have you defined your blind-spots? What have you learned so far?

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38 thoughts on “Avoid These 3 Mistakes As A New Entrepreneur

  1. Sam Jones says:

    Wow Dale, straight-forward and personal advice. All of the points ring a bell with me as a young entrepreneur. This has helped me with my next business launch in January; so good to see the benefits you had learning in your development. Cheers. Sam

  2. David Ramos says:

    This is really good advice. I’m a new entrepreneur and the idea of hiring people scares the dirt out of me. Mostly because I know how much I hate being an employee – how can I do that to someone else?

    I’m sure I’ll make a bunch of mistakes too because instead of blindspots I think I’m mostly in the dark and have a few bright-spots haha.

    Anyways, all this info is making me excited for startup camp. As long as I can get the cash flow from my business I’ll be one of your first students!

  3. Briana Phillips says:

    Dale, this is so helpful! The first mistake rings so true. I am in the process of starting my own business while being a college student! I find that many of the students I work with don’t fully understand the heart or passion behind entrepreneurship. Not that they are my employees directly but they are people I want to communicate to and partner with.
    Appreciate your insight! Thanks!

  4. Tia says:

    Dale, I want to express my feelings towards your latest article. I agree with you whole heartily, I am very passionate about my agency & what we bring to the table. Success to me is not about the monetary value, but to my client’s dream becoming a reality. I believe to do what you love & create a great work environment! I love how you put into perspective about working with your employees, on making sure you are not letting them know every single emotional avenue. I am looking forward to hiring a great team player that will live up to the expectations & enjoy every bit of it!

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Wow Tia, thank you so much for your kind words. Sounds like you’re off to an incredible journey with your agency 🙂

  5. John says:

    I didn’t lose my job only gained my life back.
    That is true when your work consumes the absolute majority of your time and we fall out of balance.
    I believe that focusing on balancing your life and spending valuable time on the things that matter are essential in entrepreneurship. Many of us are blindly inconsistent in understanding how to lead teams with rue empowerment so that their is time being spent on the highest priority and value added activities. Here again balancing micro management and employee excitement are critical to morale as well as overall performance.
    I also learned that taking time needed before making key decisions lets you play out the potential result. When doing business it is best to always remain composed in all emotional situations and operate with concrete integrity so that your employees respect the leadership on principle alone.
    Lastly, don’t try to keep everything on your phone or in your head — keep things simple by writing out a priority list each day, week, and month. This will help you stay on track and review progress etc.

    Great insight Dale!



  6. Raluca says:

    Great article! I love reading your posts, Dale. It keeps me motivated to be a better designer, every time I think of getting back to a full time job!

  7. Pamela69 says:

    Beautiful article, Dale. Your so right on about the ‘success circle of lies’- The biggest myth out there: More money equals a successful life. Freedom, relationships and a low stress, healthy, fun life is my definition of success.

  8. Juha Salmela says:

    Goody goody article, although I like to disagree about success 🙂 For me the success is to achieve goals what you have put for yourself and it’s not about money, freedom or any other particular topic. Great article though and keep on rocking Dale 🙂

  9. RyanRudloff says:

    Such a good point. Success is having Freedom of Choice, too many people think it’s adding as many zero’s in the check as possible while giving EVERTHING else up in the process.

  10. Jeff Thornton says:

    I really love the article Dale! I found your blog a month ago from following Lewis Howes. I’m glad I did! You share very valuable information. Continued success my friend! 🙂

  11. Alfred Gogwim says:

    Very resourceful. I do number one most at times with my ideas too. Always expecting people in my group to do think and act like me. I am learning from you a lot on how to get better as a man manager for the future. Thank you.

  12. monica nizich says:

    Well yes, it is hard to loose control – which you think you are doing when your stuff doesn’t understand you:) Thanks, you are so right!

  13. Emilee Connell says:

    Dale, I have learned so much from your blog. I so appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience with the world. I took a leap of faith to follow a dream and vision I’ve had for a very long time. It’s been a roller coaster ride and I’m so thankful for the invaluable advice you offer for people on this journey! Thank you!

  14. Lisa Mitchell says:

    This is exactly right. I was fortunate enough to create my “dream” business and it totally ran me, not the other way around. I made all the mistakes above, and then some. And not surprisingly, the business failed. I was focused on the elusive dollars and lost all the freedom and I had wanted to gain. I actually became a slave to the business and it ran me physically, emotionally, and spiritually dry. I’m starting another venture now, hopefully much wiser this time around thanks to my experience and the insight that people like yourself and Lewis Howes are sharing with us along the way. Thank you for always providing such useful info and candidly sharing your experiences.

  15. calebgalaraga says:

    Solid advice! I like how you mentioned the need for health transparency. It’s crucial for you to know the boundaries on when to say and when not to say things in front of people working with or for you.

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