Everyone knows of how Steve Jobs made his mark at Apple, and how Bill Gates founded Microsoft.
Yes, we know the many ways people have succeeded, but you learn more from failure than you do from success.
With that in mind, here are four startup mistakes every entrepreneur needs to learn from and avoid at all costs.
Startup mistake 1. Biting off more than you can chew
Many entrepreneurs start off with a grand vision in mind, thinking their product or service will change their industry; they’re ready for it, plans are drawn, things are done, and they’re ready to take on the world.
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious; it is after all part of the entrepreneurship DNA. But so many entrepreneurs get obsessed with doing so many things at once that they soon reach a point where they’re effectively achieving nothing.
No one can be everything to everyone, so why would a business be any different? When it comes to business, always remember, it is better to do one thing well than many things poorly.
Trying to capture an entire market, or providing a brand new service can in fact, be quite detrimental for your venture.
Your customers suffer a general loss of quality across the board or costs increase exponentially. As a startup, resources are scarce, so be picky.
For most startups, it means running an increasing risk that you’re spreading yourself too thin. It is therefore, more prudent strategically to prioritise certain aspects of your business that will prove more efficient down the line.
Many successful businesses start out with a niche, and then secure their niche in place, move out and expand.
Facebook wasn’t available to the general public on day one but started at Harvard and expanded slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your business won’t be either.
Startup mistake 2. Opening your doors doesn’t always bring customers in
With the rise of the internet and e-commerce in general, it seems that everyone’s starting an online shop these days.
The assumption of many online business owners is simple; “We’ll sell awesome products and provide a great platform, and the customers will just stream in.”
Most marketing plans for online businesses these days amount to some shares on Facebook and a few tweets here and there.
But internet marketing is far more sophisticated than that. Just because the internet made it easier to sell things, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its disadvantages as well.
Most e-commerce websites, apps, and online platforms simply get lost in the incredible sea of content out there.
Googling anything instantly brings up a string of results, relevant or otherwise, and if you don’t make it a priority for you and your business to stand out, you’re going to be drowned amidst a sea of other websites.
Marketing is and should always be number one on the entrepreneur’s priorities – it doesn’t matter if you have a great platform or the best products if no one knows about it.
At the end of the day all businesses come down to money, which won’t come in without sales, so it’s incredibly strange that most people don’t even think about this until the very end.
Going viral is tough, so don’t count on it.
Startup mistake 3. Controlling everything may give you nothing
Most entrepreneurs have a vision of how they want things to be. They know how things should be done and can quickly get obsessed with the minutiae of their businesses.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting everything to be perfect, the role of an entrepreneur is the role of a founder, or, to put it differently, chief visionary officer.
Entrepreneurs must learn to train subordinates and delegate work; your job is to put your vision out as clearly and concisely as possible, then get everyone in your team to work towards it.
Even if you don’t have a large team, entrepreneurs must remember that every minute they spend running their business is a minute less spent on growing it. In the early stages, once your business is up and running, it is much more important to start growing your business.
Startup mistake 4. Thinking you know everything
Starting a company for many people means being their own boss. Being the boss is nice, you get to make your own choices, and you do what you want.
That’s a fun enough process when it comes to the things that we know, but from time to time, you’ll encounter things you have never experienced before. It’s a part of life and business; new things pop up every day.
The job of an entrepreneur is to deal with it. Most entrepreneurs take this to mean they should make uninformed decisions based on their gut feel, but that simply isn’t true.
Just because you have to make a decision on an issue you know nothing about doesn’t exonerate you from your duty to find out more before making that decision. Don’t rush towards uncertainty, know your destiny.
From time to time you’ll have difficulty understanding a situation, and this is where your network comes into play.
Can’t understand a situation no matter how many times you run through it on paper? Find someone you know and trust, and talk it out.
This article first appeared in thenewsavvy.com
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