A successful business will not come to fruition without strong leaders and a solid business plan. A bit of luck and knowing the right people can help, but a good business needs more. Even the best entrepreneurs are bound to make mistakes. Luckily, we can learn from ourselves and each other to generate more success in the future.

Whether you’re in your early twenties or your late fifties, starting your first business is undoubtedly an exciting experience. However, it can also be risky. To minimize your chance of failure, here are a few common errors you should avoid at all costs.

1. Jumping Before You Can Fly

A business isn’t founded overnight. It can take months (and sometimes years) of planning, research and organization. If you have a day job, don’t quit prematurely. Pacing is everything when a new business is getting off the ground. You should also consider the current state of the economy. Even a good business can fail if the timing isn’t right.

2. Not Consulting Legal and Financial Professionals

Should you register your business as an LLC or a corporation? The business structure you choose for your company affects everything from business operations to taxes. To make sure your personal assets are protected from company liability, consider consulting a lawyer. It’s also wise to consult a financial professional. Your business finances should be separate from your personal finances. Confusion can lead to problems, and it looks unprofessional to use personal checks when conducting official business.

3. Disregarding the Wants and Needs of Your Target Audience

So you have an idea. That’s a great start. However, an assumption cannot be the basis for an entire business. The first step should be determining that your product or service will be well-received by your target audience. This can be determined via primary or secondary research — ideally both. Proper research ensures that you’re not basing an entire business plan around an idea that isn’t founded in truth.

4. Skimping on Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations Efforts

Word of mouth can be a powerful tool for start-ups, but that won’t always cut it. Radio, social media, newspapers, magazines and television can be assets in helping to spread your message to the right audience. However, you should be careful. For example, if your target audience is women between the ages of 50 and 70, advertising on Twitter won’t be as useful as using a different medium. A skilled professional can help here, as well.

5. Not Preparing for a Lifestyle Change

Owning and running a business is more stressful than some people initially think. Sure, you can set your own hours and be your own boss, but that also means there’s more pressure on your shoulders. You, your family, and your friends should all be prepared for the possibility that you may have to work nights and weekends, especially in the beginning stages.

While starting a business is a complex process that requires dedication and planning, it is also a worthwhile venture for many entrepreneurs. If you follow the right steps and learn from the mistakes of others, you’re setting yourself up for success.