Eight out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months, according to an article on Forbes.com.

The good news is, avoiding these 10 painfully common business mistakes I see from entrepreneurs across the world will ensure you’re one of those 2 out of 10 who make it!

Mistake #1: Creating a product, then looking for an audience

To paraphrase a brilliant product creation strategy written by the late direct marketer, Eugene Schwartz: You cannot create desire in a market. You can only channel existing desire.

This means you need to look at what people want, then create it for them, instead of dreaming something up and hoping people want it.

Find a solution your market actually wants, then create it.

Mistake #2: Going it alone

When you’re starting out, you’ll likely do everything yourself, and often, that’s how it has to be.

But when your business reaches a certain point, there won’t be enough hours in the day for you to handle everything on your own.

The instant that happens, start outsourcing anything that isn’t the highest use of your time (which, in your case, is growing your business).

Mistake #3: Playing fast and loose with finances

A lot of entrepreneurs skip this step, because it feels tedious; or because they expect “bad news” and don’t want to face it.

Business comes with a lot of expenses, and if you’re flying by the seat of your pants with your finances, you can find yourself with a bank account balance of zero in the blink of an eye.

Keep your finger on the pulse of your finances, always, even if you hire someone who handles it. Make sure they provide you with a monthly report. Careful tracking of your finances is not something you can afford to neglect!

Mistake #4: Not standing out

Without a clear reason to choose you over your competition, your customers will choose based on things like lowest price and convenience. That means your competition could steal your customers by slashing prices.

Without the repeat business of loyal, satisfied customers, your days are numbered. Why?

According to RjMetrics, loyal, repeat customers spend 300% more money. The most loyal will buy simply because they like you!

Plus, new customers, though important, are also five times more expensive to obtain, because they don’t yet know, like, and trust you. And unless you give them a clear reason to, by standing out, they’ll run to your competition for any reason whatsoever.

Mistake #5: Not holding your marketing accountable

Are you tracking every single dollar you spend on marketing? Does every single bit of marketing you put out there serve a specific, planned purpose?

Marketing without a plan in place, or just to “get your name out there,” is like tossing a lit match onto your cash. Yes, it’s important that people know you exist, but you can accomplish that and hold your marketing dollars accountable by using goal-oriented marketing.

Step one, always, is to develop a marketing plan. Then you implement, test, and adjust. Without a plan in place, you could be losing thousands of dollars a month, and even worse, have nothing to show for it.

Mistake #6: Lack of leadership

Poor decisions—or not making them in the first place—can sink even the most promising businesses.

If there’s a facet of business that isn’t your strong suit, either educate yourself, or hire someone who is good at it.

Your company is your baby, and just like with human babies, it’s your job to lead responsibly and consistently.

Mistake #7: Talking about yourself instead of your customers

A lot of marketing in today’s world is the equivalent of going on a date with someone who only talks about themselves, and never wants to hear about you.

What it amounts to is your customers hearing, “My company is great! So are my products! Come give me money for them!”

Yes, it’s important for your customers to learn about you so they can connect with you. But hearing how many years of experience you have, or that you’re dedicated to “quality service,” doesn’t answer the one thing that is all anyone cares about when they’re deciding whether to do business with you:

“What’s in it for me?”

Unless you can answer that question, it won’t matter how ground-breaking your products and services are.

Mistake #8: Lack of systems

You can only get away with fast and loose for so long before your business either hits a wall, or collapses.

Systems are the answer. Streamlining everything from your marketing to the way you hire and fire saves time and money by putting as much of your business as possible on auto-pilot.

Without systems, your business will never reach its highest potential. Worst case scenario, it will implode.

Mistake #9: Not studying people who are where you want to be

Mentors and coaches can shave years—even decades—off the time it takes to grow your business.

Look for people who are where you want to be, and study them. I don’t mean copy them, I mean learn from them. Better yet, hire them to teach you!

They’ve already made the mistakes, already figured out what works, and ideally, have a proven track record of helping others succeed.

P.S if you want to engage with me as a mentor or coach go here 

Mistake #10: Not taking time for yourself

Burn-out can turn what began as a joyous, fulfilling life where you set your own hours and make your own rules into a lonely prison.

Prevent burn-out by taking time to unwind, disconnect, and enjoy everything you’re working so hard to build. Schedule it in if you have to! You can read my 5 tips on AVOIDING the burnout here

Avoiding these 10 mistakes will not only eliminate years of setbacks and failure, it will put you on the path to a successful, rich, rewarding life as an entrepreneur!