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9 STARTUP MISTAKES TO AVOID

Becoming an entrepreneur can seem like a scary, high-risk journey. A journey that is filled with unpredictability and an adventure that most people prefer not to take. For those who do take the leap into the unknown battlefield of business, the dream of creating an Inspired Future for themselves and leaving a legacy can be most rewarding.

 

Whether your decision to turn entrepreneur was fuelled because you admire other entrepreneurs, or want to be your own boss, or want the freedom from a cubicle and away from a 9-to-5 job, or having a higher risk tolerance, or that you don't have another choice, the life, journey, learnings and rewards of entrepreneurship cannot be taught and must be experienced.

 

The reality is that within every entrepreneur, there is a fire that burns so strongly that it surpasses the reality of being an employee. A Purpose that is fuelled by Value Creation and a Need to Succeed and control their own destiny that owning a business gives them: No limit on the profit and the opportunities that they can gain.

Over a period of time, being an entrepreneur gives you: 

  • Freedom of Time (while you will still work hard, you will equally enjoy your free time; you will learn to better organise your time and modify it effortlessly)

  • Networking (you will seek out others to learn from their experience and to find inspiration)

  • Challenges (you will learn to do things you thought you would never need to do and overcome challenges you could never have experienced as a employee)

  • Expertise (you will become a multi-disciplinary expert)

  • Determination (you will find new ways to achieve everything you set out to achieve)

  • Accuracy (you will learn to quickly pinpoint not just where problems lie or opportunities arise but also understand Culture, People, Behaviours and Beliefs, to name a few)

  • Financial Liberty (Financial Independence might have been one of the driving reasons why you turned, however over time you will seek and achieve Financial Liberty)

  • Accomplishment (For the first few years you will work harder than most people can ever imagine, to eventually live a life that most people could never dream of)

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or are early on in your entrepreneur journey, here are a 9 mistakes that could kill your startup dream…

 

Founder(s)

While being a single founder is not necessarily a mistake, it is important that you create an advisory board or at least a closed group of trusted people to help guide you during the first few years that are usually tough. While having a cofounder(s) could mean that you have someone to bounce your thoughts off, it also means that you have to manage your cofounder’s expectations and resolve disputes which could quickly turn into a startup killer.

 

Obscure Niche

Building your startup around a small, obscure niche often results in startup failure. While the decision might have been made due to the lack of competitors in the same, it will not give your startup 'wings' to scale and grow. When you think of your 'idea' remove yourself (your biases and your comfort zones) and look at the Value your startup will create for others. Look for specific, unsolved problems that the category at large is facing; look for cultural or behavioural opportunities that your startup can improve or change. The other side of Obscure is Derivative. Imitation might be the most sincere form of flattery but in business it does not necessarily guarantee success.

 

Inflexibility

Most startups eventually evolve into something surprisingly different to what they started out as. Being open to new ideas and not getting too attached to your original plan will help your startup be more agile and eventually profitable. The key is to be grounded in the present (i.e. the wants, needs and desires of your current customers) while looking forward (to the inspired future that you want to create for your business).

 

Hiring 

Most of the current breed of startup founders have a technology background, a few have business/ experience backgrounds, a few find pride in being dropouts and the rest hail from highly rated business schools. While each of these breeds gives the startup its own unique flavour, it does not guarantee sustainable growth and success. These founders know how to hire for their own specialised skill but most often fail in hiring across other disciplines. Hiring someone just because their CV says they have a Microsoft Certification or a degree from II(x) doesn't mean guaranteed success.

 

Speed to Market

Launching too early can kill your startup as quickly as launching too slowly. This is especially true if your startup is technology centric. Launching too early without fixing the bugs will negatively impact customer experience, while fear of launching will inevitably result in competitor advantage.

 

No Specific Customer

Founders tend to understand the problems that they faced, best. (i.e. a 50-year-old founder will experience technology very differently than a 25-year-old founder). It's not that the older cannot identify and create a solution that could also help a younger audience or vice versa, it's just that the startup must look at the proposed problem through the lens of the special customer and not through their own difficulties. Just building a solution because you faced a problem does not mean that others would have seen it as a problem.

 

Money in the Bank

All too often, startups raise too little money or spend too much to create a sustainable business. Money in the bank literally indicates that time you have before you shut down ('Runway'). If you raise too little money your startup will not be able to take flight or create sustainable flight. Similarly, if you spend too much too soon, the startup will crash and burn. Creating a business model that is not only sustainable but also clearly outlines Cost Structures could be the difference between life and death of the startup.

 

Users and Profit

A bone of contention that usually exists with startups is User Acquisition Vs. Profit where the founders err on the side of User Acquisition. While it must be stated that you shouldn't Sacrifice Users for supposed profit, it must be stated that IF the startup Idea was grounded in the first place, is creating Value, having unique Value Propositions and clear Customer Segments, you wouldn't need to sacrifice Users for Profit or vice versa.

 

Hard Work

Startup Founders will always remain the head chef and the bottle washer (during tough times) of their startup. While startups will hire more people as they grow, their founders will always be responsible for driving the Vision, building Culture and managing Relationships (internally and externally). Founders who succeed are the ones who dive all-in to the business and don't see their startup as a supplementary source of income.

 

Conclusion: While the list above is not all-inclusive, it covers the major reasons behind startup failure. While there will be many things that you will discover about yourself, your ideas, your capabilities, your limitations, the category, the cultural trends, customer biases and behaviours, the competitive environment etc. on your journey, you will find that the journey is highly rewarding, satisfying and worth the time and effort you will put into building an inspired future for yourself, your family and your people.

Trigger Worldwide is a Brand Marketing Agency, built specifically for businesses to create Sustainable Growth. Our proprietary tools and process methodologies harness Technology, Creativity & Innovation, leverage Economic Drivers and Consumer Beliefs to help businesses overcome marketing inefficiencies and achieve their Growth Agendas.

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