You may have a genius idea for a startup, but if you make the same rookie mistakes other startups make then you might find it difficult to launch yourself into the world of successful startups. Don’t reinvent the wheel here—listen to the other things people have gotten wrong right off the bat so you don’t have to trudge through that learning curve yourself when experience before shows us what works and what doesn’t.
At Designli, we’ve covered all the potential mistakes first-time entrepreneurs make when going into the world of startups that you can avoid so you can jump right into making your startup the best it can be.
1: Foregoing the Planning and Goal-Setting Phase
It may be tedious and boring, but you need a solid business plan before anything else. You may have a stellar product or service that’s going to eventually make you thousands or even millions, but if you don’t have actionable, time-oriented steps on how you’re going to get there, then you’re going to run into trouble fast. Work on finding your niche. Research your competition. You need to make sure that you sit down and write up a business plan, a monthly or quarterly or annually-based goal system, your financial plan, and your marketing plan.
2: Not Communicating Your Story
Effective marketing is more than just about selling a product—it’s about selling a brand, and your brand is a relational tool that connects your company to the world around you. It tells the story of how you fit into the market, how you help customers, and what your values, mission, and vision are. People love a good narrative, be it humble origins or industry-breaking innovation, and it’s important to show people that you’re more than just a company. Consider viral marketing, for a start.
3: Going All In – Alone
Sure, you might be a Renaissance person, effective and talented at absolutely everything. But consider how much actually has to go into a business before you consider going into it completely by yourself. You have finances to worry about, marketing, hiring employees, establishing a company culture, writing up a business plan and setting goals, and on and on and on.
You don’t need to do it all by yourself, and delegating tasks to a small, tight-knit group you trust helps to free up your time so that you can focus on your strengths, and can help you ensure your company draws its talents from many places. Additionally, not delegating to other people can ruin you, especially if you try to do everything alone by reinventing the wheel on things you don’t need to.
Also, consider hanging on to your day job if you haven’t completely tested out your product or service. Make sure it’s viable, or at least make sure you have investors pulled together before you launch yourself into the world of precarity.
4: Getting the Wrong Team Together
Conversely to the point above, having a bad team can sink you. You need to be able to bring in people that you trust, who have strengths where your weaknesses are, and who are willing to put the vision of the company above all else, even if it means starting out with a less-than-competitive pay package.
You need a team with the right attitude and a wide set of skills, but you also need people willing to put their heart into your startup. Having the wrong team can ruin you if you don’t heavily consider a potential employee’s (or partner’s) personality, skill set, attitude, strengths, and weaknesses as a whole rather than choosing one particular trait that sounds enticing.
5: Focusing on Your Vision and Forgetting Your Customers is a Huge Startup Mistake
A huge mistake startups need to look out for is getting too caught up in the vision for their company, their idea of what the world will look like after they’ve shaped it, growth and revenue, and so on. You need to remember that the whole reason you’ve started a startup is to help real people with real problems, and you can’t put them behind anything else. Listen to your customers, seek their feedback, and consider how your solutions are supposed to help them first and foremost.
Another problem you might come across is forgetting who your ideal customers are in the first place. You need to consider a significant amount of market research to find out who your target demographics are so that you can effectively market to them. A one-size-fits-all strategy is not only too general, but it doesn’t give you the chance to reach the people you are sure will benefit and buy your product or service.
6: Getting Caught up in the Moment and Becoming Arrogant or Impatient
Don’t let a little bit of success destroy your humble attitude. It only takes a little bit of unwarranted arrogance to sink your company. You need to be able to keep your ego deflated, and focus on constructing and building meaningful connections to the community and your customers, an inspiring and problem-solving product, and a successful company culture.
Additionally, if you’re not growing at the rate you want to be growing, then you need to take a step back and consider how you are growing in other ways. Success doesn’t always mean something tangible like revenue growth. Maybe it means more customers or more team members—either way, you need to be able to take a step back and not let impatience lead you to any hasty decisions.