5 Things I Regret Doing as a New Business Owner

When I was new to the entrepreneurial world and starting my first few businesses, I followed a lot of common advice that may work for some, but didn’t work for me.

These 5 things aren’t necessarily bad for a business.

But it took me several years to realize they were bad for my business, and to trust my instincts, even if they go against the grain.

This article isn’t to tell you what to do or not do. 

The purpose is to help you realize that you and your business are unique and what works for many won’t necessarily work for you.

Learning from others’ experience can obviously be helpful, but don’t follow advice blindly. Take your skills, experience, and intuition into account before following what others are doing.

Here are 5 things I used to think were essential (based on other people’s advice), but now I realize aren’t right for my business ventures.


1 – Hustling

I definitely fell victim to “hustle culture” . I thought I was doing the right thing by working on my business overtime, not taking breaks/vacation, thinking about it every waking hour, and answering emails right up until I went to bed. 

Extra hours are often required during the startup phase and consistent effort is important. But there’s a limit. 

If you’re burned out and stressed out, you cannot make sound decisions. 

There will always be more to do than there is time to do it and your to-do list will never end. There isn’t a finish line, so there’s no sense in putting your mental and physical wellbeing at risk just to try and “get ahead”.

Now I set my work hours and almost never work outside of them.


2 – Networking

Networking can be beneficial, depending on your business and your skills/personality. 

As an introvert, I’ve always hated networking, and as a result, nothing beneficial ever came from all the networking events I attended. 

When I was a new business owner, I was willing to do anything to make my ventures work. So I said yes to all the networking events and invites to connect. 

In my experience, the people I connected with had their own agenda (rightfully so), which typically led to more work on my plate that didn’t benefit me.  

Although networking events led to several meetings, coffee dates, dinners, etc. with other local business owners, not one successful collaboration came out of it. 

I thought I was making headway by connecting with other local business owners and talking about our businesses. But in the end, those “connections” were honestly just distractions for me. 

If networking is your thing, keep networking on. 

For me, it drained my battery, did NOT put my best skills to use, and took me away from projects and tasks that actually moved my business in the right direction.

Marketing and making genuine (and fitting) connections with business owners I can cross promote with has proven to be a better use of my time (and those types of connections tend to happen organically; not through networking events).


3 – Creating detailed business plans

I love making plans…filling out worksheets, making lists, goal setting, etc. 

And I do think those things can be helpful. 

But at a certain point, they become distractions that stop me from taking action.

It’s important to know what your goals are and have a realistic plan for how you’re going to reach them, but don’t get bogged down by all the details. Those details are likely to change once you start working on a project.

If you’re looking for investors or are investing a lot of your money to start your business, you may need a more detailed plan. 

But otherwise, loosely defining the essentials (e.g. who you’ll sell to, where you’ll find them, and what you’ll sell to them, or the general steps required to complete a project) is the better approach so you don’t waste time ironing out details that will likely change in a month or two.

When you have more experience, you know the exact steps and tasks required to complete a project. But when something is new to you, you’re unfamiliar with all the details. In these scenarios, create a rough plan and fill in more details as you go.


4 – Doing one thing each day that scares you

Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but I really hate the saying “do one thing that scares you every day”.

I don’t think it’s beneficial to live each day in some form of stressed out, fight or flight mode. 

Challenge yourself? Sure. But in ways that are manageable and allow you to take baby steps towards your goals.

I for one lose sleep, get stressed, and can’t be productive when I have “something that scares me” on my schedule. 

And to do that every day? Or even every week? No thank you.

When all your energy is going towards completing tasks that are new (and maybe scary) to you, you’re constantly in prepare/learn/survive mode, which makes it hard to complete daily tasks that are essential to the foundation of your business.

I also believe it’s hard to be effective when you hate what you’re doing.

I wasn’t putting my best foot forward when I was cold-calling boutique owners. I was nervous, fumbling on my words, and I could’t wait to have those calls over with each day. 

I’m sure every boutique owner I spoke to could sense that. 

I also wasn’t effective when being interviewed for TV and radio shows. I was just trying to get my part over with as fast as possible.

My marketing time is better spent working on SEO, sending emails, writing guest posts, or conducting one-on-one or written interviews for magazines. Those tasks incorporate my writing skills and put my (public) speaking skills (or lack thereof) on the back-burner.

I’m now much more comfortable with my strengths and weaknesses and saying no to “opportunities” that don’t allow me to shine.

I’m not saying you’ll never have to do things that make you uncomfortable or challenge you.

I am suggesting you listen to your gut when it comes to which opportunities are right for you and which will just be a distraction. And find ways to make the things you don’t want to do, a better fit (e.g. cold-emailing boutique owners instead of cold-calling if writing is a strength).


5 – Doing it all

When you start a business, you’re full of ideas and ambition.

When I started Made Urban, it was an online marketplace and I had ambitions to compete with Etsy (if you can believe it). I wanted to launch the site with the all the basic functionality of Etsy plus additional bells and whistles. 

That led to a lot of money being invested into a website before knowing if people were interested in what I was offering. 

It’s easy to look at a competitor and think “I can do that”, or even “I can do that better”.

What you may not realize is that it’s likely taken them years to get to the point where what they’re doing appears to be “easy” or “simple”.

It’s likely you can offer something as good as, or better than, what your competitors are offering. 

But you must learn to crawl before you can walk.

Instead of trying to implement all of the ideas at once, start with the basics. 

Start with one target market, one product (or product line), one marketing channel, etc. and build a well-oiled machine before targeting a new or bigger market, adding more products to your lineup, or testing other marketing channels. 

If you try to do it all from the start, chances are you’ll get pulled in too many directions to make one direction successful and you’ll get burned out quickly.


I hope you found this article helpful! Feel free to share any “mistakes” you made as a new business owner.


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  1. Stephanie R says:

    All great tips! Starting a small handmade business doing what I love has been fun and challenging. I’m just getting started and have a long way to go, but all of your points make great sense! Thank you!

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Thanks for reading Stephanie! I’m glad my points resonate. Wishing you all the best with your business!

  2. Debbie Poyser says:

    Really good post, thank you

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Thank you Debbie, and thanks for reading!

  3. Shelley Moore says:

    This is sound and comforting advice. Thanks so much. Plus, I think it’s okay to pivot if you feel an item you offer isn’t what you thought it to be and/or adding a new item to the line up. It’s all about doing what’s right for the customer and what you think will move your business forward.

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Absolutely! I agree. Being open to pivoting is a lesson I wish I learned earlier on. Thanks for reading!

  4. Linda Wilson says:

    Hi Erin, I did enjoy reading this article in particular. It definitely rang a bell with me. I’ve had to realize that my business is unique to me and my own circumstance. I’ve made the decision to be more selective in the shows I do, what I choose to make and how I choose to market my Etsy shop and handmade jewelry. I’m not paying for the same advice regurgitated in different ways and respond to every offer of free training which is a marketing ploy for the more expensive programs. I am now more descerning about when, where and how I use my time. I’m more relaxed and my sales are growing. Thank you for the interesting and helpful articles that you publish.

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Hi Linda! I’m glad this article connected. Isn’t it so interesting how the more you relax and stop trying to force things, sales come much easier? I’m glad you’re finding your unique path to success.
      Thanks for reading!

  5. With experience comes the wisdom you shared. I agree completely. And had to learn most of that the hard way too! I still struggle with the networking one though and haven’t quite decided how to handle that…. Thank you!

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Thanks Miriam! Networking is one I struggle with too. In business and in my personal life, I’ve found making fewer connections, but deeper ones, is more beneficial/satisfying for me, as opposed to casting a wide net.

  6. Great article! Giving better options, and cautioning one regarding “overextending” in a wrong direction…

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Exactly…thanks Debora! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  7. Fantastic article. Totally relatable. And I learned a lot from reading this, especially the fifth point about starting small and growing big. Thanks, Erin.

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Thank you Gbenga! I’m glad it was helpful. That’s an important point I learned the hard way 😉

  8. Eleni Krikelli says:

    Such a helpful post!!!! thank you!

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      I’m so glad you think so! Thanks so much for reading Eleni!

  9. Erin- how does one determine the difference between “things I need to do, but don’t like to do” and “things I don’t need to do”? Is it as simple as asking “What does this contribute to the success of my business?”

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Hi Jess,
      That’s a really good question! I think in the beginning, it’s good to give things a good effort and use the results to determine if it’s something that you don’t like to do, but is still beneficial for business.

      For example, the dozens of networking events and work coffees I got invited to were something I did not like to do. If I had gone to my first few networking events and wasn’t 100% comfortable, but walked away with solid connections that resulted in the growth of my business, that would be something I’d label “thing I need to do, but don’t like to”.

      But in my case, it took me too long to pay attention to the outcome of those events, and to be comfortable saying no to local business owners organizing the events or reaching out to go for coffee. I should have made that determination after the first few events.

      So I would say, testing the waters and giving an opportunity a fair chance, but paying close attention to the return on investment it gives you.

      But I do also think asking if something will contribute to the growth/success of your business is important to ask before spending time and or money on anything. You may be able to determine if something is right for you/your business simply by analyzing that first. For example, if I had been invited to a networking event but when I look at the guest list, it’s clear the other attendees aren’t a match for my business, I may be able to determine it’s not a fit, without even going to the event.

      I hope that helps!


      1. Thank you for such a thorough answer Erin!

        1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

          My pleasure! 🙂

  10. Melissa Jeanes,Mel's Boutique Sew Chic says:

    I too am an introvert..and find it very hard to put myself out there,I started a small sewing shop. Your article has really been insightful.

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Hi Melissa, I’m so glad! Running a small business definitely has a different set of challenges for us introverts 😉 I’m wishing you lots of success with your sewing shop!

  11. So helpful <3 thank you

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      I’m so glad! Thanks for reading Luciana 🙂

  12. Sara Miller says:

    Fantastic article, it really resonated with me, thank you. I have been running my jewellery business for two years now and last year I did everything I was invited to and all the fairs I could get into. At the beginning of this year I was more reflective on how well each went and so have been more selective on what I say yes to. But I do sometimes panic I should say yes to everything and then I have a quiet chat with myself and try and say no where needed. I do find it very hard to say no to people and events, did you find this difficult too.

    1. Erin (Creator of Made Urban) says:

      Hi Sara. I’m so glad! Sounds like you’re already on the right track. I honestly STILL get that guilt and worry when I’m presented with an opportunity and I say no to it (I even feel guilty in my personal life when I say no to a dinner or hangout with friends). But I have found, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the more you practice “self care” (caring for your mental and physical wellbeing first) and care for your business (putting profits first), the less guilty you feel. Also, when I do say no, I try to do it in a respectful way, as to not burn any bridges. Letting people know that it sounds like an amazing opportunity but my schedule is already full or that it’s not quite a fit for me/my business at this time, almost always gets a “I completely understand” response 🙂

      1. thank you for your reply, I will try that way if saying no, still cringe inside at saying no, in my business and personal life too, getting better at it I think. it is hard to change a lifetime of saying yes . cheers Sara

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