Shady Elhami outlines common missteps for first-time entrepreneurs


There are probably a million articles on the internet about what to do if you’re an entrepreneur. 

There’s a wide range of angles on this idea, like how to invest or raise money, how to make a business plan, how to find a great business idea — it’s endless.

It’s more uncommon to discuss the kinds of behaviors that are likely holding back first-time entrepreneurs from the success that they imagined when they ditched their job for the dream of self-employment. 

Luckily, Montreal-based Shady Elhami has some suggestions for how entrepreneurs new to the game can improve their productivity and hit the ground running.

You Didn’t Choose a Specific Audience

Often, entrepreneurs start out with ideas that are way too big-picture.

That’s a mistake, Shady Elhami notes. Maybe one day you’ll be Elon Musk and change the way the world thinks about finance or transportation or space travel. 

But probably not. 

Most entrepreneurs achieve success by focusing on a very specific audience. Many first-timers in the business world think they should go big and not limit themselves to a target demographic.

That’s exactly the wrong tack to take, Elhami said. 

“Building a business from the ground up isn’t easy. There’s tons of competition out there,” Elhami adds. “If you have a site focused on reviews of every restaurant in your city, you’re competing against every other food review site out there. But if you focus on just Korean food, or just hot dogs, now you can become the guru for a specific subject, and you’ll start to see more traffic as a result.”

You Didn’t Accept Any Help

Being self-employed doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes a whole community to make a business successful.

This is the 21st Century. There are nearly endless resources available online to give you advice, tell you how to manage your finances, and connect with other people going through the same trial by fire as yourself.

“Entrepreneurs aren’t only successful because they have great ideas,” Elhami explains. “They succeed because they know how to leverage the knowledge and resources already available to their best advantage.”

On Facebook and Reddit, you can find hundreds if not thousands of pages devoted to entrepreneurs seeking advice from each other. Sometimes it’s just comfort for someone who made a mistake or lost a lot of money, but if you’re walking the lonely road of the entrepreneur, even a bit of reassurance can go a long way to keeping you on the straight and narrow path. 

You Didn’t Find A Way To Collaborate

Don’t become too focused on competing.

That might sound counterintuitive to the first-time entrepreneur who’s read dozens of self-help business books that promote a cutthroat attitude when striving for the top of the free market. 

But collaboration is far more important to success than competition, Elhami said, even if it’s with your direct competitors. 

It’s easy to feel like you need to do everything by yourself, but you can actually succeed faster by reaching out and making partnerships with other businesses in the same industry. 

Maybe you’re writing and managing your own travel blog. Try to reach out to a successful travel blog in the same area or covering the same subject matter. Ask to write for them for free. They’ll get strong content without paying for it, and you’ll get exposure to the exact audience you’ll need for your blog to be successful.

“It has never been easier in human history to find like-minded people or businesses and immediately connect with them in a personal and practical way,” Elhami says. “That’s a huge advantage. I advise entrepreneurs to use it. You’ll need every bit of help you can get.”