Growing Pains: 7 Startup Mistakes to Avoid
If you’re establishing your start-up, congratulations! This is an exciting time for you and your business. Mistakes are a part of life, but we always love to keep them to a minimum; here we’ve round up several common startup mistakes you should keep in mind in order to avoid when starting your business venture.
No one knows better than we do that getting your new company off the ground is as exciting as it is challenging; we’re here to draw your attention to some common startup mistakes . Between building your business plan (hint: our free business plan templates can help with that), finding investors, developing marketing and customer service strategies, and collaborating with the partners and mentors helping you make your vision a success, and making sense of your tax duties and other administrative procedures, it can be easy to slip up here and there. Along with our articles on starting up in the UK, marketing strategy, and more, here we’ve also assembled a few up-and-coming startup mistakes to watch out for when you’re getting started.
1. Letting passion get in the way of planning
It’s important for you to love the product and service that your company offers and your business itself — presumably, it’s one of the primary reasons you decided to devote yourself to it. But, insofar as it is possible, it’s important to strive to maintain a certain level of objectivity with your entreprise in order for you to be able to assess your business and its progress more accurately. Becoming too emotionally involved in your product can be a shortcut to burn-out when your new business venture experiences growing pains.
It can also prevent you from planning sufficiently for your roll-out. Sometimes passion and enthusiasm about a venture can distract attention from the lack of a solid business plan. While pizazz will help with attracting investors, in order to keep them interested, you’ll be expected to answer more questions about your product than simply why it’s great — know everything you need to know about the costs your venture will incur, the risks it contains, its potential for growth and how and when you’ll hit the break-even point and investors will start to see some bang for their buck. Thankfully, you can download our free business plan while you’re here to help you with this aspect of launching your enterprise.
2. Misguided goals
It’s important to check-in regularly with the goals you’re setting for your growing business. Setting actionable goals for yourself and your team means setting goals that are concrete and can be easily outlined in a step-by-step process towards their attainment. Keep your goals SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Rather than setting out-of-this-world goals for the first year of your startup, stick to the SMART strategy in order to avoid discouraging yourself or your team when larger-than-life expectations are not reached. By limiting the time-frame in which to achieve an specific, attainable, and relevant objective for your business, you enhance your business’ chances of success. So, keep in mind:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Attainable
- R: Relevant
- T: Time-Based.
3. Selling it short
Whether you’re striking out as a freelancer or starting your first company, be sure that you value your goods and services fairly. Newcomers can often feel a certain pressure to compete by being the cheapest on the market — while it’s good to keep your offer accessible, be sure that you’re valuing your services at a rate that works for both your enterprise and the customers. Undervaluing your hard work will lead to burnout in you and your employees, and it will also make it that much more difficult for your business to reach its break-even point and begin generating the vision and capital you planned for.
4. Ignoring the Competition
With everything that starting your own company entails, it can be easy at first to stop keeping up with what your competition is doing. Check in with trends in product advances and upgrades, visual marketing, and general strategy from your competitors on a regular basis, and be sure to include information about your market and its participants in all of your marketing and business plans in order to be sure that you aren’t falling behind the competition.
5. Neglecting Marketing
This can apply to research, strategy, and implementation. When you’re starting up and waiting to reach your break-even point, spending money on marketing research, hiring, creative direction (gasp!), and campaigning can seem more like an obstacle than anything else. But in order to build awareness about your product and/or brand, it’s important that you build on solid marketing research in order to project the strategy and growth of your brand. Don’t forget to check out our tips on marketing research and visual marketing.
6. Misplaced spending
As a new business owner, you should always be careful about what you spend your hard-earned money and investment on. It can be tempting to opt for office space, networking expenses, and software over professional advice and, for example, solid marketing research. Consider objectively the potential returns of any given investment, and if they don’t seem reliable, cut the cost. Put that hard-earned money into an investment that will bring back important insights about your business: maintaining it and helping it grow reliably.
7. Going it alone
When you’re a founder, it can be tempting not only to micromanage your team (often a quick way to kill productivity and creative problem solving), but to take on too much responsibility yourself. Add to this the fact that you may be paying yourself a barely-there salary in the early phases of your business’ growth, and you’re looking at a fast-pass to early burnout. Plus, it’s impossible for even the best entrepreneur to juggle every aspect of a nascent business by him or herself. When you hire, hire well — this will ensure that you trust your team enough to delegate wisely and confidently, knowing that your employees have your back. Stay connected, and know that no man or woman is an island: talk to your employees, your customers, and experts that you trust. Share the workload in order to avoid startup mistakes, and share the joy of your company’s success with the people who help you make it happen.
Paying attention to these common startup mistakes will help to ensure that you’re more aware of your and your company’s behavior, and will help avoid slip-ups before they happen. By being aware of the startup mistakes of companies that have come before, you’ll have history on your side.