In many cases, founders of startups are young in the sense of either in age or their experience in starting a new business, in this post I attempt at to summarize a few points and mistakes that entrepreneurs tend to fall into, these are mistakes that I’ve either made in my past startups and ideas or I’ve seen other entrepreneurs that I meet or advise make. Generally speaking most entrepreneurs tend to make the same mistakes over and over again and hopefully this will play a role in changing that, at least for those of you reading it.
This is the 1st and most common mistake entrepreneurs tend to make, usually most entrepreneurs have allot of ideas, many of which come across while working at their existing startup, fighting the urge to start working on this new idea is critical to the success of the existing startup your working on, you should always ignore any other ideas and focus on getting your existing startup off the ground, the important thing you need to always remind yourself of, opportunities will continue to present them selves and the only thing working on or thinking of other ideas will do is decrease the chances of success for your 1st project.
2- The problem your trying to solve
To begin with, you need to make sure that there is an actual problem that your idea is solving, in many cases entrepreneurs assume that there is a problem their target customers are having, once you do establish that the problem does exist, usually through actual interviews with your potential target customers, make sure the problem is big enough for you to be able to build a viable business around it, and that there is a major pain point that you trying to solve, ideally customers are willing to pay you money to solve this pain for them.
3- Customer/market research
You would think this is quite obvious but many entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming who their customers are or what are their biggest pain point is, never assume who your customer is, make sure to take the effort to talk and interview your potential customers and validate your problem hypothesis with them, you can also take the extra effort and create an MVP of your product or service. An MVP can be a simple landing page created in a couple of days to see how many users would actually signup for your service, or it can be a 1 month scaled down demo of your app, either way showing this demo to your potential users or customers and getting their feedback will proof to be invaluable.
In many cases entrepreneurs might change either their customers and find a new segment of users that would be more suitable for their solution, or find out that their customers dont actually share the problem they thought they had, at which point they have to go back to the drawing board on their idea and figure out if there is another problem they should try to solve.
Tip! check out www.quickmvp.com to quickly assess the potential of your idea.
4- Lack of management experience
If this is our 1st time building your company, you really need to invest time and start to learn about managing your employees time and resources, how and who you should hire and when should you fire someone, hiring the right people with the right attitude for your startup is critical for it’s success, it can literally make or break your company no matter how good your idea is. Focus on their skill set and make sure anyone you hire is someone you can trust in tough circumstances, and is someone that shares your vision and passion for the business.
How can you motivate and inspire your team, some basic legal and accounting knowledge is also required to make sure you dont make any critical mistakes as you start.
5- Scratch the business plan
Forget about writing a 50 page business plan and forget about any parter or investor that asks you for one, instead focus on building a demo of your product, getting initial validation on it from potential customers, grow your numbers on it and validate your revenue model (even if on a very small scale) that is going to be much more valuable and will provide way more feedback and tangible results than any business plan can ever do.
6- Never wait to get things perfect
Its very simple, you will never reach that point, there will always be things you can enhance, focus on getting the 1st version out that delivers your most valuable proposition, not doing that you risk spending too much time on your app then having someone else beat you to the market your targeting, or running out of cash before getting it out and spending on marketing and the follow up iterations on enhancements based on the feedback you get after you release the app/product.