There are a handful of promising startups that have melted away despite their huge and much-publicised potentials. Blaming them for their failure is not usually the best idea because starting a business is undoubtedly hard and risky work. However, if you can learn from others to avoid some of the typical beginner mistakes, you can be one of the startups to succeed. To build a startup with staying power, avoid these common mistakes:
An idea is enough to start a business, but a plan is essential for sustaining it. While some may find planning difficult, you will be operating in the dark if you don’t have a roadmap for your company. A solid business plan could be the single most important step in laying the groundwork for future success. You need clear steps on how to proceed but only in such a way that gives you the flexibility to adapt to the ebb and flow of your industry.
Building a business requires both passion and patience — and the understanding that it will take a toll on the other areas of your life. Be ready to make sacrifices, put in the necessary time and face challenges head-on to be successful. Be upfront with friends and family so they understand what your time commitment will be. If they know this from the start, they’ll be more supportive of your vision. You’ll need this support in the stressful and frustrating life of an entrepreneur.
Waiting for perfection
Waiting for perfection has killed more startups than jumping the gun and launching too early — which can also be detrimental. Of course, when you’ve got a killer idea, you naturally want to introduce it to the world in its best form. But at what point do you accept that perfectionism is stalling your progress? Your business isn’t going to be perfect. You’ll need to work out the twists, and you can really only do that once you’ve launched.
Setting a price either overestimating or undervaluing your product or service is a common misstep for entrepreneurs. It’s important to understand tax consequences, variation in labour rates and what your actual costs will be so you can price correctly.
Fear of failure
There’s a reason the catchphrase “fail fast” is so common. Regardless of how popular a mantra, failing is still a scary thought. Many people believe failure is the opposite of success, when, in fact, it can be the key to success. Failure is only a problem when you don’t learn anything from it. It’s simply a matter of perspective, so change your mindset. Overcoming setbacks and obstacles is the price you have to pay to succeed.
Obsessing over funding
Startup owners who have a huge vision and are ultra-ambitious will definitely capture a VC’s attention, but money isn’t everything and shouldn’t be the only goal. Startups often prioritise raising money over searching for a product market fit and building a user base. If they do succeed in raising money, they assume that means they have a successful business. But money doesn’t work like that. Every year, highly funded and over-valuated startups fail.
“If you build it, they will come” is one of the most common misconceptions of entrepreneurs. How do you expect to gain customers when they don’t even know you exist? Marketing can take many forms, from referrals to traditional advertising to social media to proper SEO. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, the best type of marketing for your company will depend on your business and your target audience. The biggest mistake comes from assuming you don’t need any marketing. Don’t spend all your budget on development — save some for marketing.
Going at it alone
There are only 24 hours in a day. The reality is that you can’t do everything yourself. Recruitment, management, legal and finance can be problems for entrepreneurs. Find an expert whose job is to know exactly what you need.
By Damilola Faustino
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