This is a quote from TechCrunch author implies that startup failure is not a consequence of accidental misfortunes – but instead a result of actions and decisions of the startup team. In hindsight, it often seems like you should’ve known all along that you were leading your company to an inevitable doom – however, it doesn’t usually seem the same way in the moment.
Startups are known to be highly uncertain endeavours. Does it mean that we are doomed to make mistakes time after time which destroy our business without realizing it at the time and retrospectively scratching our heads not understanding how we could’ve been so silly?
Not necessarily. As unique and special each startup is, the errors startup founders make tend to be surprisingly uniform on many occasions. Some of them happened to us too. We will review three of the most common of them for you so you don’t unintentionally kill your start-up while its still very much breathing.
1. Failure to Conduct a Proper Customer Research
If you think that your product or service is so great that everyone would loooove to have it than you probably haven’t heard too much of the customer research. Even the greatest of products need to discover their niche first – find out whose needs and pain it responds to the most. And it’s not just “male, 16-20 years old, in the Netherlands”. In order for your product to be loved, you have to understand your consumers and who you’re making it for. What’s their background? How do they spend their free time? What kind of personalities they have? What’s their spending habits? Researching these and many other questions about your consumers take time and a certain degree of detective (stalking?) skills, which is more complicated than just tweaking a few parameters in Facebook Ad settings. However, doing that would allow you to stand out from competition and hit right into the hearts of your customers.
2. Not Testing Your Idea First
We all sometimes get carried away with our ideas. Sometimes, we fall in love with the idea of something so much that we don’t see reality. While this could cause a heartbreak in your private life, in case of your business the circumstances can be even more dire. Even the most brilliant idea will inevitably fail if it is only brilliant in your mind. The most important piece of advice here is to test your idea first before proceeding further. There are many ways to do that which provide you with highly quantifiable results. For example, you can create a simple landing page which shows your product, set up ads on Fb or Google which create traffic to the Order page and then you can measure how many people clicked on “Order” button. It’s always best to spend one thousand on a test instead of spending many more on developing a product that nobody wants.
3. Issues Within Your Team
When launching a new project, it’s great to start with enthusiasm and belief that there is a great future ahead of you. Without unrealistic optimist most of the projects most projects would’ve probably never got launched in the first place, discouraged by the hard numbers of statistics. However, there are some aspects where it immeasurably helps to keep a cool head while planning your future startup. That particularly concerns a relationship with your fellow team members. Startup founders are the ones who want to do things differently and not to be bureaucratic as traditional organisation, however this is a part where you want to have things in order. Even (or especially) if you start something with your close friends, people who you know in a different life context, building a company together is a tough business. You might have a different vision, have contradictory ideas of where to go with your startup, what is a sound business opportunity and what is insanity, etc. So, talk things through before starting anything, divide responsibilities and document everything! You don’t wanna end up loosing friends in addition to your business.
While there are many problems which can be deadly for your startup, paying a close attention to these three points will ensure that at least the first stages of your start-up journey will go smoothly. In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, it’s important to remember not to base your judgement just on your opinion, but instead to use hard data to base your conclusions on. This way, you will be able to see quickly what works well and what doesn’t and adjust the course of your development accordingly. Testing, analysing, careful consideration and speed of implementation are important for any project, however in case of startups they can either make or break your business. Keeping it in mind at all the times will help to keep your startup from the early grave.. At least for the time being 😉