You are bound to make business mistakes one way or another, especially if you are new. Some mistakes enable you to learn from it and could help you become a better entrepreneur. But there are others that are just pure blunders that you just have to avoid. Knowing what they are and how to avoid them will give you an edge as you slog through your startup journey.
1. Not sure of your products.
Before venturing into a business, you should first identify what your products and/or services are. Your products and services attract your customers. Not knowing your products will have a negative impact to your sales and your business’s success.
How to avoid: Choose and create products that you are familiar with. Products must be something that provide new value to your customers. Once you have chosen your products, the next step is to dig deeper on the things that can certify the quality of your product – such as meeting the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Most businesses want to achieve international quality recognition for their products and services. The ISO aids in certifying that your product is safe, reliable, and of good quality. There are companies that provide business-friendly tools for ISO 9001 which can help you achieve the needed certification as well as increase your productivity. One example for this is the 9001Simplified, which offers a variety of business tools. Click here to compare 9001Simplified Products.
2. Not hitting the right timing when launching
Launching too early or too late can be bad for your business. When you launched too early, your product probably is not ready yet. It might be because it is still incomplete or riddled with defects.
If you launch it in such a form, there is a chance your first few customers might find it of very poor quality and this could hurt your reputation. A ruined reputation is hard to fix and can affect your business throughout its lifetime.
But launching too late could be worse. In a highly competitive market, entering the market too late can render you obsolete. Remember that you don’t have to immediately put out the perfect version of your product. As LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman puts it: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Worry about perfecting your product later.
How to avoid: Time it right. Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut standards to determine when the “right” timing is. But there are indicators you can look out for to help you.
For instance, when there is a high demand for your product or when there is a trend pointing towards it, it is probably worth the risk to launch as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might lose out against many competitors who launched before you.
On the other hand, in determining whether you are launching too early or not, you can put yourself in the shoes of your customers and ask whether you will buy your product at its current state.
Is it good enough? Will it satisfy customers as it is? Are the defects so bad that it could potentially ruin your reputation? Or are they unnoticeable and can easily be ironed out in future versions?
3. Working with the wrong people
Whether it be an employee who is just plain lazy or a co-founder who does not share your vision for the company, working with the wrong people could spell doom for your business. It could also be someone who exhibits an attitude problem, shows incompetence, or simply does not “fit” into your company.
How to avoid: Choose your staff carefully. Not only is finding the right people important for good working relations but it is also essential for your startup to remain competitive. If you are left with no other choice, learn to let people go. Anyone who makes working unbearable or contributes nothing to your business goals should be cut off.
4. Poor marketing
Marketing is the heart of your business. If your marketing strategy is not optimal, your business will suffer. It could be because you don’t spend much on marketing, thinking that your awesome product will just take off in the market. Or maybe you spend too much on it but are targeting the wrong audience or demographic.
Poor marketing will lead to lesser brand awareness. How good your product is wouldn’t matter if no one knows that you are selling it in the first place.
How to avoid: Plan your marketing strategy. Know who your customers are and try to catch their attention. As a startup, you do not need to have a large marketing budget. But it is necessary that you allot a budget for it. Keep track of your return on marketing investment (ROMI) to gauge the effectiveness of your strategy.
5. Not listening to customers
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, your business will not survive. There is a reason why the motto “the customer is always right” is repeated over and over by establishments like a solemn player.
In business, customer satisfaction is paramount. Not listening to people who keeps your business alive is a big mistake. When customers feel that their voices are not being heard, they will think that they are not given any importance. They will continue to feel dissatisfied. And when they do, they will not hesitate to leave.
How to avoid: Listen. Pay attention to what your customers are saying. You can do this through different platforms, depending on your type of business.
The good old customer suggestion box could still work for establishments like restaurants and other service-oriented businesses. Another way is to look at social media to gain insight on what your customers are thinking through analytics. Setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter account will help you achieve this.
Just keep in mind that you do not have to implement each and every customer suggestion. The only thing you have to do is to listen. From there, you can determine for yourself on what you can do to meet their expectations.
6. Refusing or failing to adapt
Nothing illustrates the fatal consequences of not being able to keep up with changes better than the case of Yahoo. Being one of the pioneers of the Internet boom, Yahoo was able to capitalize on the dotcom bubble and saw its value rise to as high as $500 per share in January 2000.
However, Yahoo’s repeated failure of adapting to new technologies would eventually lead to its downfall. When the world was shifting to search engines, mobile apps, and social media, the internet company refused to change and remained the same web portal site that it was since its inception.
Yahoo watched itself get slowly beaten by competition as Google and Facebook rose to become the new giants of the modern era. Yahoo finally decided to surrender in July 2016, selling its core business to Verizon for a mere $4.8 billion—which is chump change compared to its peak value of $125 billion.
How to avoid: Be vigilant. Keep yourself updated on the latest technologies or the most recent developments in your field. Also, look at what your strong competitors are doing. If they are succeeding while you are not, then they are probably doing something right which you are missing.
Be open to change and adapt when needed. In this age of digital disruption, businesses who fail to innovate will eventually perish.
7. Lacking the passion
This factor is often overlooked as something trivial or not so important compared to traditional business problems such as funding. It is not. Your passion is what keeps your business alive. When you are no longer motivated in what you are doing, you are unlikely to give your best, which could be fatal.
How to avoid: Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself questions. Why did you enter into business in the first place? Do you still like what you’re doing? Do you think there is still a chance to succeed? Can you bounce back from that recent failure you just had?
Answer these questions as truthfully as possible. When you do, there can be two good outcomes. One is that you will rediscover your passion and find the motivation to go on. The other is that you will finally realize what is best for you—and it may not be the startup life.