90% of startups fail. It’s a new world of business, and only the strongest new companies will survive. So how do you avoid startup doom?
Sometimes failure comes down to sheer bad luck or influences beyond an entrepreneur’s control, but in many cases, it can come down to the same simple mistakes that companies make time and time again.
Here are 10 common errors to avoid if you want your business to last the distance.
1. Inadequate Market Research
It doesn’t matter how remarkable you think your product is if the market doesn’t agree with you. Very few startups offer an innovation that can truly revolutionize a space, so before you spend significant money on development and marketing, be sure your market research is up to scratch. Don’t waste time and resources on a white elephant with no demand.
2. Insufficient Startup Funding
All startups need to have a realistic plan for how they’ll operate until revenue starts to flow reliably. Almost always, this means having sufficient initial funding in place to see you through the first lean months or years, whether that’s through your own investment or via a third party funding partner.
3. Unsuitable Partner Choice
As vital as funding is, it’s a mistake to go into business with a partner just because of the capital they can inject. For long-term success, you also need to have a matching vision, common aims, and complementary skill sets.
4. Poor Customer Care
If gaining and retaining customers isn’t your number one aim, your company will struggle to develop any momentum. Providing great customer care and an excellent experience is a non-negotiable requirement for success.
5. Ignoring Revenue Needs
Especially in tech sectors, it seems fashionable for startups to focus on building a product range and a user base while leaving revenue worries until later. This rarely works out well. If you don’t have a strong, actionable idea about how you’ll generate revenue as you grow, gaining more customers could actually be a fast route to failure as your costs quickly outstrip your income.
6. Poor Budget Control
Never let costs get out of control in your quest for growth. Losing sight of the importance of healthy cash flow is a big mistake — no matter how many other metrics you use to measure success. Unless you have investors with extremely deep pockets (who aren’t focused on ROI), you need to keep a steady eye on the bottom line.
7. Getting Overly Enthusiastic
Hopefully, your startup will be a rapid success, but it’s all too common for entrepreneurs to become too enthusiastic at the first signs of substantial profit. It’s important to keep a level head, press on with your strategy, and continue making sensible business decisions rather than letting that enthusiasm get the better of you.
8. Poor Hiring or Collaboration
There is a common image of a lone wolf or maverick entrepreneur, but the truth is that any successful business relies on hiring high-quality staff and working with skilled third parties when necessary. Trying to do everything yourself isn’t the best use of your entrepreneurial talents.
On the flip side, if it’s not working out with a staff member or third party relationship, you should have no qualms about rectifying the situation before too much damage is done.
9. Fear of Delegation
Once you have high-caliber staff in place, you need to trust them to do their jobs. Many driven entrepreneurs struggle with delegation, but it’s essential for serious growth. If you constantly micromanage your staff, expansion is limited by the number of hours you can put in personally.
10. Lack of IP Protection
Lastly, in the rush for growth, many businesses fail to properly protect their intellectual property. Patents, trademarks and copyrights are all essential. If others can replicate the core aspects of your business without any legal barriers, you can be sure that someone with deeper pockets or a larger existing customer base will eventually move into your space.
If you have the entrepreneurial frame of mind and a winning business idea, it can be tempting to go full throttle towards growth and success. However, it’s vital to learn from the mistakes of others and take a little care along the way. Avoid these common errors and you’ll stand a much better chance of being in business for the long haul.