Building a start-up is hard work. The weeks and months leading up to the opening of a new business are often fraught with challenges and unexpected difficulties. There’s no rulebook for managing a successful startup, but that’s half the fun.
Every startup business is completely different with a unique set of skills, expenses, and talent. There are a few mistakes unsuccessful startups seem to make over and over (and over) again, however, and they’re relatively easy to avoid.
To give your fledgling business a chance to thrive, don’t make these four most common startup mistakes…
Mistake 4: Being too defensive over the product or the “big idea.”
Of course you believe in what you’re selling, that’s why you’re willing to spend years of your life and an average of over $10,000 to get the business off the ground, right? It’s important to remember that while your idea must be unique, feedback matters. You should be doing tons of testing before you ever launch and tweaking your model to reflect the common themes of criticism. If you find yourself being told over and over again about a weakness in your product, and you’re simply unwilling to change because you “stand by your idea” – then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Mistake 3: Believing the product is so good it will sell itself.
If the Great Recession taught small business owners anything it should be that marketing isn’t optional. Often the first expense to go, marketing dollars need to be factored into a successful startup plan. The good news is that there are tons of cheap (and even free!) ways to market your startup including social media, community outreach, and by providing information to your industry. If you ignore the need for marketing altogether however, convinced your idea’s so revolutionary it will undoubtedly go viral… you’re wrong. A great idea means nothing if no one knows about it.
Mistake 2: Forgetting to plan for growth.
One of the most astounding aspects of the Facebook story is the calculated way Mark Zuckerberg planned for the growth of the company. In today’s digital marketplace, an idea can take off literally overnight so it’s never a waste of time to dream (and plan) big. If your new app suddenly has 100,000 subscribers, do you have the infrastructure to handle it? If not you must at least have a plan in place that helps you navigate the waters when things get busy.
Mistake 1: Not being willing to delegate.
There are very few startups still around that relied on just one person. Sure, you’re a jack-of-all-trades, but spreading yourself too thin can actually hurt your business. Consider specialized business needs like accounting, legal representation, and the big one, technology. If you’re spending time struggling your way through the extracurricular activities of your startup you’re not focused on growth. Don’t be afraid to spend money to hire out some of the functions of your company but be sure you take the time to research the right people to work with.
Having a successful startup doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. A solid plan is the best thing a startup can have going for it so even if it seems like overkill, write down every aspect of the next 1, 3 and even 10 years of where you see your business going. When things take an unexpected turn you may be glad you did.
[author ]For the past 5 years, Ryan has had success in web-related business, product development, and online marketing. He also enjoys the latest news on emerging technologies and trends in big data, when he’s not hanging out with his dog, Max. Ryan is a product manager at BizShark.com.[/author]