It is exciting but not easy being an entrepreneur! There are many unknowns and no foolproof formula for success. As an entrepreneur, you have chosen your own path, gathered the necessary resources and taken on financial risks – all in the hopes of achieving your dreams. There are many pitfalls of entrepreneurship on the way. As you undertake this journey, we would like to point out some of the common entrepreneurial mistakes that many others have made. The idea is to learn from each of them. Being mindful will help prevent possible setbacks and improve the chances of your success.
Be Adaptable and Open to Change
Not making something that the users want is perhaps the biggest mistake that any startup can make. You might love your idea but do others love it too? It’s important to understand how the product fits into the market and what the customers really want. In many cases, the first version of the product does not meet the market expectations and needs improvement after customer feedback.
Always have a Plan B ready. To be successful, be flexible and able to pivot if your original plan is not working. Listen to your clients and learn from their feedback. Dialogue can help you understand their criticisms, helping to improve your product and meet your customers’ needs.
Times are changing and technological advancements allow us to work more efficiently and save money. Be open to adapting to change by exploring the huge benefits of this digital age. Doing otherwise will only hold you back and hinder growth.
Follow The Business Plan
As you start off, you are trying to save time and money and think that having a Business Plan in place is not really necessary. In reality, this has proven to be a huge mistake. Having a business plan is highly recommended as it will help determine the company’s direction. Along with this, also have a Financial plan and a Marketing plan in place. Take small steps in your strategic direction every day and you will get there.
Entrepreneurs are passionate about their beliefs, but having a strong hunch alone is not enough! Your belief must be backed by numbers and data to validate and support your claims. This becomes an absolute necessity when marketing your product or even looking at external investors for fundraising.
Underestimating the sales cycle can sometimes land the business in trouble! We are tempted to think that money can solve all our problems and scout around for another round of financing. One can go very wrong here and land into deeper crisis unless they are able to fix the flaws in the business model first.
Do Not Try to be a Jack of All Trades
Its common among entrepreneurs to try to do everything themselves due to changing role of entrepreneur, but it is important to realize that you can’t be good at everything! So the smarter move would be to find an expert to help with areas you might not be as informed on. This opens up your bandwidth to continue improving your unique expertise and strengths, building a team poised for success.
Don’t Over-extend too Early
We would like to highlight that a large number of startups fail because they grow too fast and too soon. Be mindful of this and refrain from overspending on marketing or hiring too many employees. Hire only those truly needed and take staffing up step by step. Slow and steady wins the race – have faith in organic growth to achieve a more solid and sustainable result.
Know Your Market Well and Reach Out
It is essential to do market research before starting off. Have a well-defined target market and good knowledge of your opportunities and threats, competitors and substitutes of your products, customer needs, and behavior, market value and demand.
Your product might be unique and awesome. But does the customer know about it? There is no other way to make your presence felt than marketing – be it word of mouth referrals or internet marketing. Understand your ideal customer and direct your marketing activities to reach them.
You have an exciting and out of the box idea for a very niche market. Sounds like a wonderful idea as you would be able to avoid competition too! But in reality, such tiny niche markets need not to translate to success as the market is too small – so beware of taking that route.
Connect with the right people
As you start off, it is important for you to connect with the right kind of people. Seek advice and mentoring from strategy experts, financial planners, lawyers, accountants etc. Networking and building these connections will help your business grow.
Don’t Undertake the Journey Alone
Setting up a business is hard work and it often works better if you have the support of friends and professional colleagues. Having like-minded co-founders with complementary skills can be a huge help and support both in the short and long run.
It is a tough journey which can take its toll on several aspects of your life including your personal relationships. You need to be aware of this and ready to make sacrifices as well as face up to challenges that may arise.
Having good people management skills helps. As a startup, this ranges from dealing with your workforce to effective customer service skills. You need the support of both your customers and producers on this journey.
While there are no certainties in business, there are ways to reduce uncertainties. There is always scope to learn from others. By being mindful and aware, one can avoid falling into the same trap that others did in the past and increase the probabilities of success. Do the following steps right and see your business perform better….
- Appropriate choice of product that adds value to the customers
- Business Plan needs to be in place giving you directly at your every step
- Market Research is critical to finding the right spot in the market
- Focus on your core skills and outsource or delegate the rest
- Do not expand too fast
- Sufficient funding is needed to keep the business going
- Choose the right co-founders and partners to support you on the journey
Ideally, we need to look beyond the product, at the real business that will draw the customers back again and again.
While learning from the mistakes of others helps, there are still no guarantees. And just in case things don’t work out as expected, make this a learning experience that will help you to move forward and succeed in your next business.