Like there’s no point in reinventing the wheel, there’s no point in making the same mistakes a lot of startups fall on their face for.
Here’s a few pointers on what not to do.
1. Don’t skimp on a business plan. Having a solid business plan is the single most important step for success, it sets parameters to feed your ambition and provides flexibility.
2. We all fall in love with our great business idea, but we tend to get blind to it. Don’t get stuck on the first version of your idea, accept criticism so your vision can evolve into a success story. Otherwise it can end up costing you a lot of money and you make a product that doesn’t work. It’s good to learn how to deal with criticism and to hear things you don’t necessarily want to hear. Be very honest and learn things that may counteract your failure. Don’t assume that passion is contagious. Be sensitive to the kind of response you are getting from your audience.
3. Lacking focus. You need to prioritize, don’t try to do everything at once because then nothing gets done. You need to give your idea enough time to develop and fail. Failing is crucial because you learn valuable lessons and feedback on your product and your idea. Given it is very hard to be patient when you don’t have money. This takes us to number four.
4. Don’t plan too much. Of course you need a valid business idea to drive your goals but planning is generically a very static activity. Jumping into action is self-imposing but causes your business to change with the perspectives. It might even prove your business idea or product inadequate or dysfunctional as you begin to execute. The more you focus on executing the closer you get to your launch goal, or not. But at least you haven’t spent fortunes on planning your failure. The longer you take to launch, the longer you without money coming in. Sell the simplest version of your product that gets the point across and find someone you can sell it too even if it’s just a pilot. This way you’ll start making money and you have a chance to create a better product very cost-effectively.
5. Choose your investors carefully. Not all money is equal – meaning common interests shouldn’t be mistaken for a common vision. You need to be clear about your values for the business beyond money that you want the investors to add to your business. Don’t blindly follow advice. You are your best advisor when it comes to building and refining your product. Trust your gut. Do your own research and trust your instincts.
6. Find your real target groups. Don’t create a product relying solely on a thought of what you think your target groups are. Gather customer data and listen to it to find out who is buying your product and why. When you know the reasons focus on those and be the best at that.
7. Prioritize. Analyze the costs and benefits of your doings and prioritize. At the beginning focus on the things that are the core of the product instead of making it pretty on the outside. It’s useless to waste time on elements that are cool to have but not essential. A good way of doing this is tagging your to-do items with labels such as “urgent”, “useful” or “nice to have”.
8. Don’t avoid risks. When you have a good idea there’s always going to be competition.
9. Don’t be cheap about marketing. No matter how excellent your product is, you need people to know about it. Have a marketing strategy and be strategic about who you are targeting if you’re planning a big success. Also remember that social media isn’t free. To do it properly, it takes a lot of time and the process is very slow. Don’t be afraid to put money in it.
10. The team. Choosing the wrong team can be a very costly mistake entrepreneurs make – you don’t just loose time and money, you also result to a depleted work morale. Choose people with varying skill sets and share your values. Trust is key in tough situations.
11. Pricing. If you don’t understand your costs you can’t price your product correctly. This is why numbers are the inconvenient necessity. Be on top of taxing and labor rates so order delays don’t become insanely expensive.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal:
It is the courage to continue that counts."