3 Biggest Mistakes You’ll Make in Business

Early in the Easter story, just before he is betrayed by Judas, Jesus says to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane,“You will deny me three times before the cock crows.”Peter shakes his head. “Never, my Lord.” But sure enough, after Jesus goes off in the darkness to pray, Peter is approached by the Romans and twice denies his association with Jesus.

John 18: 26-27 continues, “One of the servants of the high priest asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied Jesus the 3rd time; and immediately a rooster crowed. Remembering Jesus’ prophecy, Peter is overcome with guilt and remorse.

Just as Peter was bound to deny Jesus three times, every ambitious person is bound to make three big mistakes in their career. And even though I’m going to tell you how — and why — to never make these mistakes, you’ll ignore me and make them anyway.

It seems most people insist on learning these lessons the hard way, but if you take my advice, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache, heartache, and money.

I know because I’ve made all of these mistakes, and some of them multiple times. And it’s through my expensive education at the School of Hard Knocks that I’ve formulated a plan for you to avoid them.

Mistake #1 — You will partner with (or hire) the wrong person who will burn you 

Partnerships are tough, particularly when you’re young. Like teenagers in love, you rush to take the relationship to the next level. Perhaps you met someone at a conference, enjoyed some beers at the bar with them, and the next thing you know you’re launching a business together. This rarely ends well. Few first-time, quickie partnerships stand the test of time.

Dave Kekich, one of my mentors, says in Kekich Credo #54:

“Don’t enter into a business relationship with anyone unknown to you without being furnished with references dating back at least 10 years. If he doesn’t have good enduring relationships, stay away. Check all representations on which you will rely made by everyone.”

Kekich’s advice feels extreme, but after you’ve been burned a few times, you’ll change your tune. It also applies to hiring key employees. Only fools rush in. “Hire slow, fire fast,” is the best advice. At ETR we use a process called Top Grading (created by Brad Smart). Our interviews last three hours long and we go through the candidates background from high school to present day, often repeating the same questions in different ways to make sure we’re getting the whole truth.

You must be patient with partnerships. You must ask the tough questions and have the difficult conversations. Start with referrals and follow through on references. You can’t avoid doing the homework, unless you’re willing to pay a costly price.

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#2 – You will over-pay on a very expensive item

Whether it is overpaying on rent, salaries, or a new car or home that you simply don’t need, at some point you’re going to flush a lot of money down the toilet. It could be an expensive marketing program that you didn’t thoroughly investigate, or unnecessary technology or equipment for your business. Again, you’ll pay the price (literally) because you rushed into a buying decision without doing your homework.

A weakness that puts you at risk of overpaying is not having a Position of Strength (POS). Without it, you have no leverage for negotiation and your neediness betrays you.

A position of strength is the opposite of neediness,” says Matt Smith, my business partner at EarlyToRise.com. Matt continues…

“From a philosophical life perspective, it’s critical that you not be needy of others to be happy or to achieve what you want in life. We are generally repelled by people who are needy and attracted to people who are strong.

“At a strategic level, building a position of strength is relatively simple. You must have value to offer. You must bring something to the table that can solve the problems of other people. If it’s with a potential joint venture partner, it could be that you have a list and your list would love to hear more your joint venture partner and their products. That’s an obvious example.

“The other way that you can achieve a position of strength is that you can build a reputation. Reputations are very powerful in the marketplace and in relationships, and are, in my opinion, much more powerful than having a list. Having a reputation of being somebody who does certain things in a certain way is incredibly attractive and powerful to people. Don Corleone in The Godfather is a great example.”

Matt can speak for hours on the topic of a Position of Strength. It’s one that he’s studied, and lived, for many years. But the bottom line for now is that you must look at how others perceive you and what value you can bring to others. When you have a powerful reputation matched with equally impressive skills and value to add, you’ll have a strong Position of Strength and great leverage in important negotiations so that you never lose on price again.

#3 – You will take too long to find the right mentor

Waiting too long to hire a mentor was the greatest mistake I’ve ever made in my business. And this education has been the most costly. While you might lose $10,000 overpaying on rent, or $25,000 on a bad partnership, you stand to lose MILLIONS when you are too proud or too cheap to seek the advice of a coach.

To find the right mentor, first set aside your ego. You do not know everything and you never will. The sooner you drop your ego and commit to being a curious student in every situation, the better. Curiosity and a commitment to lifelong learning are two of the most common traits amongst the highest achievers in the world.

Stop waiting. Seek out a new mentor today. Don’t stop with one. Identify someone that you wish to emulate in both success and ethics, and find a way to learn from them. You might travel to their seminar or start with buying a book. But your education must not wait. Don’t procrastinate. Learn something new today.

I pray you don’t make all, or even one, of these mistakes. But again, just like Peter, you’ll probably choose the hard road.

When you do, take this advice to get back on track fast. Catch your mistake quickly so it causes only minor damage. Learn your lessons. Never repeat them. And move forward with the right decisions in the future.

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