Last Updated: 7th August, 2019
How to Avoid the Mistakes that Startups Make
That said, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out advice, especially when you’re new to the game.
If you’re a startup or toying with the idea of bringing a new product to market, here’s a look at seven big mistakes that startups tend to make. Avoid these whoppers and save yourself from having to learn everything the hard way!
Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s no different for entrepreneurs launching a new business. Getting a little tripped up here and there is natural, but for a startup, even little errors can become costly down the line.
Luckily, countless entrepreneurs have blazed the startup trail before, and many of them have committed common mistakes the rest of us can learn from. With a little bit of planning and the wisdom to learn from the advice of others, you can avoid some typical stumbling blocks.
1. Don’t be afraid to fail.
“The biggest mistake you can make is to be afraid of failure. Failure is key to your success, and jumping into your fear is very positive for your future business. How you pick up after failure and learn from your mistakes is the key to great success.”
2. Skipping The Business Plan
I realize it’s 2018. But a good old-fashioned business plan is just as important now, as ever. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be contained in a three-ringed binder of yore, but it does mean taking time to run the numbers, create your identity, and develop your sales and marketing plans –and target milestones. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll have a hard time getting there. A business plan will help to keep you on track. Plus, if you’re hoping to secure funding, you’ll need this.
3. Don’t misinterpret your market.
“The biggest mistake a business owner can make when launching a startup is misinterpreting the market. Whether it is underestimating [or] overestimating costs, appealing to the wrong target demographic, or poorly gauging the demand, misinterpreting your market can end your business before it even starts.”
4. Not Accurately Gauging Interest
Yeah, I know. You’re in love with your product/idea/brilliant innovation. But is anyone else? Besides your mom? While bringing a new product to market is hard, bringing a product that will have little demand is even harder. In fact it’s soul-destroying. Don’t do it unless you’re certain it’s going to be well-received.
5. Not Defining Your Target Market
Before you launch a product into the ether simply hoping for the best, you’re going to need to run some numbers and create an accurate projection of how well that product will perform. Your first step in this journey is pinpointing your exact target market. Without a clear idea on WHO you’re marketing to, and what, exactly they’re interested in, you’re going to have a hard time pitching and promoting your product. Trust me, it’s hard to sell something when your audience isn’t even sure they want it.
6. Forgoing All Advertising Efforts
It’s 2018. These days, we need online advertising to succeed. The truth is there’s only so much that you can do with organic reach and word of mouth. At the end of the day, if you want to grow significantly, you’re going to need to pay to play, and invest in a Facebook/Instagram/Google ad campaign. Fortunately, ads have come a long way in recent years, and today, it’s easy enough to create a campaign that’s extremely targeted; drastically increasing your response rate. This is another reason why it’s important to know your audience. If you don’t, you won’t be able to reach them very well.
7. Pretending That You Don’t Have Competition
“I don’t have competition, I’m in a league all of my own.” I hear it often. Don’t fool yourself though, you have competition, just like everyone else. The secret to rising above isn’t pretending it doesn’t exist, instead it’s about finding that chink in their armor. Where is your competition lacking? How can you offer more value? Most importantly, is that value something that your customers actually care about? If you have a definitive answer, then by all means continue to pursue your business. But if you’re basically the same, but slightly different, then I’d tread carefully.
8. Ignoring The Elephant In The Room
You know what I’m talking about –that looming threat on the horizon that you’re uncomfortable about. This could be a strong competitor, waning interest in your product, shifting market conditions. Whatever it is, don’t ignore it in hopes that it’ll get better or go away. Because it won’t. You need to rerun the numbers and projections keeping this guy in mind. Years ago I started up an import business, but didn’t take into account rising oil prices. When oil went up, my profits went down and eventually the entire business model was no longer viable. Don’t ignore the elephant. Always keep it in mind when formulating your attack plan.
9. Learn how to delegate and avoid micromanaging.
“As a startup, there is sometimes a lack of self-awareness. Founders in the early stage are not great at delegating work to their team members. They try to do everything that they possibly can to cut costs, but really, in the long run, they should have delegated the things that they are not good at and focused on their strengths. If you are aiming for multiple targets at once, you are very unlikely to hit one.”
10. Being Stuck
As a startup, being flexible is key to survival. This doesn’t mean that you should flake out every 5 minutes, but it does mean being able to change direction when the winds change. Take Nokia, for example. They were a paper mill when they first started out. Or Sony. They sold rice cookers. Don’t be so in love with an idea that you’re blind to other opportunities. As a startup, your ability to pivot and flexibility is your strength. Think on your toes, make changes when you need to, and keep your eyes and ears open. Always have a backup plan.
If all of this sounds like a lot of hard work, that’s because it is. Success as a startup isn’t easy and it’s not getting any easier. But the truth is that big things rarely happen to those who are content to sit and wait. Instead, success is the result of a hard and difficult pursuit. It’s not always easy, but I believe that it’s worth it. With the above suggestions, you’ll already be 500 miles ahead of all the other guys out there.
Agree? Disagree? Any questions, hit me up.