Wantrepreneurship is fun until you step into the world of entrepreneurship within the real startup scene. It might seem easy from the outside but once you plunge into it you will realise how many challenges it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
It’s no longer a surprise that some 90% of startups fail, but the good news is that failure can lead to success if you are consistent enough to keep on trying.
Before jumping into it, I’d like to share my experience:
Delegate – This is what you have to learn early on. As a founder in the early stage, you need to focus on customer engagement, raising capital and finding product-market fit but not micromanaging and trying to be involved in detail in every part of your business. Micromanaging your team is just slowing down the growth of your business, and all you are doing is just getting in the way. Your first recruits are the most important, choose them carefully, trust them; and learn to delegate. Let them help you to build your business.
2. Working yourself to death or ‘half-assing' it
An average successful exit might take 7-10 years, it could take 1-2 years to raise your first round of investment. Working 80-100 hour weeks might seem like something you ‘must do’ when setting up your own business and being a role model to your first employees, but you might burn out faster than you imagine. You want to create a good healthy work environment where people would like to come every day. Take care of yourself and you will last longer, work smarter not harder! Eliminate distractions during your working hours and you will see how much can be done.
On the other hand, if you are thinking about starting your business next to your full-time job, sooner or later you need to take a step and make a choice – to either focus fully on your business or keeping your full-time job. Nobody invests in you when you are in it part-time. How to transfer yourself from a full-time job to a full-time entrepreneurship you can read from another article.
3. Avoiding your team
Your team is your company, and keeping your team happy is one of your top priorities. Motivated developers build better products, motivated marketers will find ways to keep your CAC lower, motivated account managers will keep your clients happy and bring you more revenue. You need to be able to keep your people motivated. Whether it’s good times or bad times, you cannot hide yourself behind the desk. As a leader you have to take responsibility and show that you can handle anything. Even if you have doubts about your own decisions, don’t show this to your employees.
Ideas change, products are redesigned, markets can take unexpected turns, but people tend not to change that much.
In the end you don’t build a business, you build the people who will build your business.
4. Getting emotionally attached to the idea and avoiding the market
It’s common that as a founder you will fall in love with your idea. However, later when introducing your beautiful baby to the market it can turn out that it’s ugly. You don’t succeed just because you think you have a brilliant idea or product. If consumers are not willing to adopt, you are doomed. So, instead of dreaming that your product will change the world make sure it actually does serve the purpose and there are users who need your product and are ready to pay for it. Do your market research and test!
5. Being overly secretive about your idea
“I can’t talk about it yet. I will tell you when it’s ready to go.” This still comes up quite often.
Don’t be overly secretive about your idea. You will not find a product-market fit if you don’t talk about your idea.
Go out there and talk to people, to your friends, family, potential investors, colleagues. If your idea is rubbish, it’s better to realise it sooner rather than later; you might be talking to your potential customers already. If they don’t need it or believe in it, nobody else will except you. If you think that people really want to steal your idea, you are wrong.
6. Obsessing over the competition
Don’t build a product that already exists. If you decide to build something that already exists, make sure you are giving better value. Ask yourself, ‘What are they doing that I could do better?’ Think about what you could do differently to win this market.
It’s common to think that you always have to compare yourself to competitors. You do need to do your homework and not ignore the competition, absolutely YES, but why build a product like your competitors?
If you spend all your time looking at your competition, your product will end up looking like your competitor's ass.
Talk to your customers, ask what they want and forget about spying on your competitors, because you might already have something better than they do. Your customers will tell you what they need and that’s the only way you can build a better product than your competitors. Engage with your customers and and this will be your competitive advantage already.
7. Trying to make a product for everyone
When trying to please everyone, you please nobody. You cannot build a product to satisfy ALL your customers. You just don’t have the resources, time and money for this. You have one product to serve one specific market and that’s where you should start from. It’s easy to lose yourself in all the new ideas that come up while brainstorming with your team or getting requests from various different customers. Don’t lose your focus! You need to find the mediocre. If you discover that you really need to change your product to fit the market, then go all out, but don’t try to please everyone.
8. Bad money management
Every day will cost you money - office space, salaries, utilities, customer acquisition, accounting, office equipment, technology.
Before you even start, set up a plan and financial forecast along with assumptions. Keep your receipts, track your expenses, create budgets and be aware where your cash is going. Stop ignoring expenses and revenue! Setting up a startup is not just a lifestyle choice, it’s a choice of becoming a serious business.
9. Thinking in the ‘now’
When teaming up with friends to build a company, most first-time entrepreneurs think about the present. If you don’t agree the amount of time you both dedicate to build the company right form the beginning, things might get out of hand sooner than you expect. Make sure you have same expectations with your co-founder and you invest the same amount of time building your business.
Sooner or later you both need to quit your jobs for this venture.
You don’t want to wake up one day saying ‘Wait a minute, I’m doing most of the job here, how come you have 50% of the company?’ At this point it might already be too late.
10. Planning for the ‘perfect’
‘Should I open the shop now, or should I wait a bit more to make sure everything is perfect?’ In most cases when your product is ‘perfect’ by the time you launch you are already too late.
Build your MVP and go to market, test the product and then polish it to perfection after getting feedback from your potential clients. Be aware that your product/idea can change after you have talked to your clients.
Many things can go wrong when starting your first company, and sometimes you can’t avoid the mistakes. In fact you’ll make plenty of them. The key is to learn and keep on going.
Originally published by Hybe