27 Oct 11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup
It’s a cold, hard truth that the five-year success rate of small businesses hovers around 50%. And yet, you entrepreneurs keep at it, meticulously panning for gold in new and unchartered territories. Many business pioneers experience more than one failed venture before finding success in another, and even then, it’s a constant struggle to make the right moves. Though mistakes will happen — and happen often — the following are repeated so frequently that they deserve to be called out, publicly shamed, and banished from the modus operandi of every entrepreneur and small-business owner.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #1
Providing something nobody wants
On the one hand, you have to be realistic: if you have a product that nobody wants or needs, you’re starting at a major disadvantage. Lack of market need was the top reason startup founders believed their businesses failed, according to a study by CB Insights. On the other hand, on rare occasions a visionary is just way ahead of the pack with a product. Cell phones, once seen as a novelty and a pipe dream, have clearly found a market. The key here is to step back from your zeal for a moment and do enough market research to logically (not emotionally) convince yourself that you’ve got something special.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #2
Waiting for “the perfect time” to launch
Keep waiting — that time will never come. Meanwhile, competitors will beat you to market, and you’ll lose out on valuable customer feedback and opportunities to adjust and grow. If you’ve done your research, and recognize ahead of time you’ll have to be nimble and adapt to change, that can be enough to get out the door. Really, are we ever truly, completely prepared for any big endeavor in our lives?
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #3
Wasting money on unnecessary things …
Although you’ve always envisioned a pool table and floor-to-ceiling murals as part of your small business dream, they can wait. Think frugally and focus your spending on items and services that will help you hit financial milestones. Then, when you’ve achieved a measure of success, you can consider adding extras in the office.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #4
… And skimping on the important stuff
Don’t be cheap when it comes to marketing, legal advice, or hiring team members. The right partners in these areas can add a tremendous value to your company (or save you a lot of money down the line). Like everything in life, you get what you pay for.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #5
Underestimating the importance of office space
You may not have the funds to get the office of your dreams just yet, but given the amount of time you and your team will spend at work, adequate office space is crucial to everyone’s productivity and happiness. Collaborative spaces, proper flow and acoustics, a place to take a break, and a desirable location can all enhance your day-to-day performance and shouldn’t be shrugged off as perks you can do without.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #6
Choosing the wrong business partner(s)
This decision can have almost as long-reaching effects as choosing a spouse. Don’t run off to Vegas with the first person who makes your heart flutter; take the time to make an informed decision, and be sure you’re both on the same page.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #7
If you want to sink your own ship and cause undue stress, by all means keep every task to yourself. But a successful entrepreneur knows that delegating only makes sense. If it’s a lack of faith that something will get done correctly by someone else, monitor your team and check in regularly until trust has been built.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #8
Ignoring your customers
Never assume you know what a customer or potential customer wants. You need to ask them! One simple question on a satisfaction survey or an informal conversation can yield invaluable information that helps you pivot in the right direction. Customers are the heartbeat of your business; take a pulse often.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #9
No matter how busy, how socially awkward, or how unprepared you think you are, you need to put yourself “out there.” Just showing up to networking events can make your presence — and product/service — known and give you more credibility. Plus, once your queue of current projects clears, you’ll need more work lined up. It’s a constant requirement of an entrepreneur to always be prospecting and building a network.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #10
Being afraid to ask for advice
The entrepreneurial community has a reputation of being very tight and very open to offering advice when asked. Accept that you don’t know everything, and mine this wealth of information and experience frequently! You’ll soon find yourself insulated by a circle of comrades who you can ask for help, advice, and the honest truth. This can help you avoid repeating the same mistakes they’ve made in the past — mistakes that may have cost them their startups.
11 Behaviors That Can Sink a Startup #11
Forgetting your family
Entrepreneurs often get so passionate about their ideas and so entrenched in reaching their goals that they forget to maintain that ever-important work-life balance. Look at your partner or your kids (not your smartphone) when they speak to you, and really listen. Take time to kick back and relax with them. Don’t disengage from the activities you used to enjoy doing together. Before you know it, you may not be communicating with or relating to the ones who used to love and support you the most.
And that, with all its repercussions, could end up being the biggest entrepreneurial mistake of all.