November 15, 2014
Like many entrepreneurs, you probably have little doubt that your startup business idea is so innovative and foolproof that there’s almost no chance of failure. The statistics, however, suggest that the only real certainty in business is that more than half of all new startups fail within the first year. You need to recognize these five common startup mistakes if you want to avoid becoming one of those statistics.
Don’t Try to Do Everything Yourself
While there are some small businesses that can be run by a solo operator, the fact is that the vast majority of new startups require entrepreneurs to rely on at least some type of help. For example, few new business owners have the time or knowledge needed to serve as their own accountants or lawyers. Neither are most entrepreneurs able to handle every single detail of their marketing efforts, day-to-day operations, and long-range planning.
To avoid the mistake of trying to do it alone, it’s a good idea to sit down and perform an honest self-assessment before you even launch your new business. Even if you’re convinced that you can do everything by yourself in the beginning, chances are you’ll discover that you’re going to need some form of help sooner rather than later.
Make Sure Your Plan is Scalable
One of the worst mistakes new entrepreneurs make involves a failure to plan for business growth. Though all new business owners dream of growing their new startups in dramatic fashion, many are not prepared to handle that expansion once it happens. The best business systems should always be scalable.
That scalability includes nearly every aspect of your business. Are you prepared to dramatically increase the production and distribution of your products? Do you have a plan to expand your ability to provide services to an even larger group of customers? If you develop scalable systems now, you can save yourself a host of problems in the future.
Don’t Forget to Continuously Increase Customer Value
Your customers will do business with you for one main reason: your ability to provide them with the value they need at a price they deem fair. Sadly, many entrepreneurs get into the habit of settling for that state of affairs, and spend most of their time focusing on the acquisition of new customers. While new customers are important, it is a mistake to assume that the current level of value you provide to each current customer is some sort of ceiling.
The simple truth is that it is often easier to increase sales to current customers than to attract new ones – and it’s almost always a less costly endeavor. With that fact in mind, you should always have a plan in place to continually increase the amount of value you provide to every current customer.
Don’t Be Unwilling to Kill Your Darlings
All humans share a common weakness: we’re all prone to clinging too tightly to our own ideas, assumptions, and biases. Worse, most of us stubbornly refuse to do the kind of deep self-examination that is needed to recognize our own baseless assumptions and bad ideas for what they are. Those thoughts and beliefs become our darlings, and the last thing we want to do is admit that they have no place in the real world.
In the business world, mistaken assumptions can kill your startup. Test your thoughts, examine your assumptions, and be prepared to discard them if they prove unworkable. It’s better to prove yourself wrong before you launch your startup than to blindly move forward and have the marketplace prove it for you.
Never Forget to Measure Progress
Startup owners who fail to faithfully measure their progress are likely to experience a wide range of serious problems. Track your new customer acquisitions, client loss rate, and every cost incurred along the way. Without consistent metric tracking, you’ll never really know whether your startup is succeeding or in need of serious help.
Fortunately, a little effort and foresight can help you plan ahead to ensure that your startup avoids mistakes that might otherwise prevent you from enjoying the success you’ve worked so hard to achieve.