80% of all startups fail within the first 18 months. That’s enough to discourage a lot of budding entrepreneurs. The first question any entrepreneur should ask should be “what are they doing wrong?”
Here’s a list to answer this question:
1. Ignoring the Customers
All businesses run on sales revenue. Your customers are the ones that give you your paycheck. Ignoring them when formulating your business ideas, will be the move that proves fatal for your startup. Always ask yourself if anyone will buy what you have to sell and if they will buy it from you. Then ask your potential customers about it.
There is no substitute for a market survey before planning your startup. Know what the market needs and what your competitors are offering. Is there really a need for the product that you are planning to offer? Can you deliver it better than your competitors? What will be the market demand in the near future?
2. Wrong Motivations
Never start a business with the goal to make mountains of money. That is not passion; that is greed, and it never pay off. There is no substitute for passion when you want to start a business.
If your primary motivation is money then startups are not the best way to satisfy it. Startups are not known for making quick bucks. Most startups just break even for the first few years. Some even work at a loss for times. A startup requires a lot of endurance and patience. If those are not the traits you are confident of then entrepreneurship isn’t for you.
3. No Solid Business Plan
Having a brilliant idea is one thing, executing it successfully is different. You might have the most genius idea in the world but if you fail to execute it properly then it will never come to fruition.
You will need a business plan that covers all aspects of your business and then you will need a detailed plan for each of those aspects. The ability to solve problems spontaneously is a good one but do not rely on it to run your entire business. Have a plan ready for all general situations. That eases a lot of things out. Also, while designing your business plan you will learn how much you don’t know about running a business.
4. Not having a Good Marketing Strategy
How can you sell your products if people don’t even know that your products are on the market? Marketing is very important for any business; for startups it is a necessity. When you start your business, nobody knows about you or your business. It is your job to put yourself out there for people to see. You have to be active in formulating your marketing strategy and make sure that it keeps evolving with the market trends.
5. Ignoring the Critics
Most people hate critics but criticism is important for growth in the right direction. Critics should be cherished not hated as they point out the flaws in you or your business. Instead on taking it personally, recognize the flaws and work towards rectifying them. There’s only positive change that can come from this.
Another advice here is to not let the critics get into your head. View them from a third person perspective and learn to separate the genuine ones from the ‘whiners’. Don’t take them too seriously, that will discourage you.
6. Aiming Small
If you are going to start a business why not aim for the highest? Many entrepreneurs limit themselves to a certain level saying that it is not sustainable to grow bigger. That is just foolish. There is no such thing as too big to handle; you just have to find ways to handle it.
The famous quote from Les Brown fits perfectly here: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll end up among the stars.”
If you are passionate about your business, and you should be, you cannot settle for not being the best. You should always strive to be the best.
7. Lack of Dedication
Entrepreneurship is a full time job. You cannot do it along with something else that demands your full attention. If you have no other choice then you will have to plan each minute of your day carefully.
Some people take entrepreneurship too lightly and do not dedicate enough time to develop their business. Obviously, these people fail. If you are planning to start your own business then it has to be your main focus.
8. Not having an Online Presence
The whole world is moving towards the internet. Online presence is a must in our age. The days when a small business could survive without an online presence are over. Social media cannot be ignored. Most of the internet traffic is due to social media. Just having a website isn’t enough anymore, you have to be active on these social media platforms. More and more companies are realizing this and if you want to compete with them you cannot ignore the internet.
9. No Deadlines
Running your own business means being your own boss. You can set your own time to work and have full freedom to make decisions. This means you don’t work in deadlines and you may fall into procrastination; which is never a good thing.
Setting your own deadlines can solve this problem. Set deadlines for tasks and take them seriously. Completing your work on time sets a good impression on your clients. Completing your work early will get them talking about your company; a good marketing strategy.
10. Giving up Early
As noted above, startups take a lot of time and patience to build. You cannot expect them to just take off in a few months, or even years. There are a lot of reasons you might decide to quit; lack of time, lack of funding or having too many expectations.
To give up on something that you are passionate about should be the last decision, after you have exhausted everything and done everything in your capacity to keep it running.
Don’t quit, be optimistic, and try to see the bright side. Delude yourself a little if you have to; just a little bit. Many great ideas have been lost just because the person quit too early. Don’t be that guy.