First Midwest BankFirst Midwest Bank logoArrow DownIcon of an arrow pointing downwardsArrow LeftIcon of an arrow pointing to the leftArrow RightIcon of an arrow pointing to the rightArrow UpIcon of an arrow pointing upwardsBank IconIcon of a bank buildingCheck IconIcon of a bank checkCheckmark IconIcon of a checkmarkCredit-Card IconIcon of a credit-cardFunds IconIcon of hands holding a bag of moneyAlert IconIcon of an exclaimation markIdea IconIcon of a bright light bulbKey IconIcon of a keyLock IconIcon of a padlockMail IconIcon of an envelopeMobile Banking IconIcon of a mobile phone with a dollar sign in a speech bubbleMoney in Home IconIcon of a dollar sign inside of a housePhone IconIcon of a phone handsetPlanning IconIcon of a compassReload IconIcon of two arrows pointing head to tail in a circleSearch IconIcon of a magnifying glassFacebook IconIcon of the Facebook logoLinkedIn IconIcon of the LinkedIn LogoXX Symbol, typically used to close a menu
Skip to nav Skip to content

5 Biggest Small Business Owner Regrets

Starting a business is exciting, and a higher percentage of business owners say they're very satisfied with their work compared to people in traditional jobs.

But being responsible for your business's success means you have to make all the decisions -- and some of them will inevitably be the wrong call. So, how can small business owners reduce some of their regrets? By learning from others. Here are a few regrets to avoid.

1. Not doing market research

Many people start a business because they're passionate about a product or service. While passion is a necessary ingredient for running a successful business, you need to ensure there's market demand for what you're selling or that you're solving a customer problem.

Market research could include gathering information about competitors, conducting interviews and surveys, and even testing your market with products or services to gauge interest.

While you may sincerely believe there's demand for what you want to sell, taking a little time upfront to test the waters could save you a lot of lost time if there's not.

2. Not starting their business sooner

A survey from a few years ago found that over 85% of small business owners regret not starting their businesses earlier. Many people get stuck in the idea stage and take too long to put it into action.

Before I ventured into full-time freelance writing, I had what I called "the year of failure." I committed to one year of applying for any and all types of writing jobs that interested me, with the goal of trying as hard as possible to get the job I wanted.

Thankfully, it didn't take a full year to find a great company that trained me for a few months and then let me write from anywhere. More than a decade later, I'm still working with them.

Moving forward, even with a vague idea, can be a great first step to getting your business off the ground.

3. Not managing money well

A recent survey found that many small business owners have money regrets, though they can vary. Some have small regrets, like not using the right payroll software, while others make more costly mistakes, like overpaying for taxes or hiring too many employees.

Debt can also be a major problem for small businesses, as about 38% have $100,000 or less in debt, according to Zippia.

To help manage your small business expenses, pick the right expense-tracking software and separate your personal funds from your business accounts.

4. Not having a mentor

Launching a small business is hard enough, but doing it alone can make it much more difficult. A recent survey found that 47% of small business owners believe they could have gotten their business up and running faster if they had asked for help earlier.

Surprisingly, less than one-quarter of small businesses had a mentor when they started, but of those with one, 93% said it made starting their business easier.

While it may seem overwhelming to find a mentor or awkward to ask someone for help, you don't have to make the request a formal relationship. Earlier in my career, I bounced ideas off of a friend who was more experienced than me. It wasn't a formal mentorship, but I trusted his thoughts and suggestions when making big decisions.

5. Not delegating responsibilities

Many entrepreneurs have a passion that drives them to work hard to build their businesses. But that same passion sometimes interferes with their ability to delegate responsibilities. Inc. Magazine noted several years ago that business owners and leaders need to focus on the work they love doing in their business and delegate the rest.

Of course, there may not always be enough cash in your business bank account to hire a new employee or to outsource the work. But if you have the funds or people around you willing to do the work, handing over the reins on some tasks can free you up to focus on your business's long-term goals.

Learning from others' mistakes can be a great way to avoid making your own, but don't fret if you've already taken a few paths you wish you hadn't. Part of owning a small business is course-correcting. Consider where you may have gone wrong, find someone who offers good advice, and evaluate your next steps.

Connect with an Old National Small Business Banker for more insights to help your business grow.

This article was written by Chris Neiger from The Motley Fool and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to

Subscribe for Insights