By now, you probably know the figures: Up to 90% of startups fail and so you only have a 10% chance of survival.
From racking up too much debt to hiring the wrong people, the smallest decisions could take your business down, especially if you are in the critical startup phase.
Other mistakes are less subtle and are easy to overlook but they too can crash your business in the blink of an eye.
Here are some of the little known mistakes you should avoid if your business is to mature from the startup phase and into the growth phase:
Yes, you got into business to make money. Whilst making money from your product or service is very motivating, this should not be your obsession when you are just starting up the business.
Yes, I know. It sounds counter-intuitive not to think of the money aspect of business, especially if you have people who have invested in your business and you have to meet payroll.
But, at the startup phase, your real obsession should be over the product or service. At this point, you need to focus on how much people want the product and how many are willing to pay for it.
You should of course think about how this product or service will make money. But ultimately, a product/service-oriented business model is more viable than a money-oriented model.
Speaking of business models, many startups assume that there is a single specific model that will work across different industries.
Just because your competitor’s business model is working for them, it does not mean that it will work for your product or service as well.
It is important to carefully think about your target audience, the nature of your product or service and the needs it addresses, and the viable distribution channels.
Imposing a model that is not a good fit for your product or service is a sure path to failure.
It is very easy to rest on your laurels in the early stages of a business when you are receiving compliments from people.
But, if so many people are complimenting you but are still not buying, do not rest and think that they will come in and buy with time. It is crucial that you take this as a push to re-evaluate your product and to develop something that is a ‘must-have.’
Bottom line: filter out the ‘positive noise’ that is only serving to distract you and to make you breathe easy. Focus on the behaviour of prospects and determine what this means about your product.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted—you need a thick skin, a heart of steel and a powerful vision. However, an unwavering vision could be the end of your business.
The bitter truth is, sometimes, your vision of things may not be the most viable path. Obstinacy and sticking to your vision can cause you to blindly pursue opportunities and to waste time on paths that may not take you anywhere.
It is irresponsible not to have goals. But, it is more irresponsible to close your mind to other possibilities, opinions, red flags and advice. What is really important is to stay agile and to change course where necessary to navigate the business toward growth.
Have you noticed that when you have a Plan B you may not be too committed to Plan A? After all, you can ditch your initial plan and jump ship if it starts to sink.
It is the same with nurturing a startup—when you are not fully committed to its success because you have something else to fall back on, chances are high that the business will fail to take off.
Whether it is a day job or having another side gig, keeping these exist strategies and distractions in your life could unknowingly sabotage your chances of business survival.
Is it time to let go of the distractive Plan B so you can focus on really growing your business?
The truth is, you will mess up many times as you nurture your startup. Your ability to quickly learn from your mistakes is ultimately vital in ensuring that your business grows from its early stages to the acceleration phase. Avoiding these subtle mistakes will at least keep you in the 10% of businesses that go on to thrive.