We’re living in a time where entrepreneurs of all ages are launching and growing successful startups, generating some amazing ideas. In this age of technological innovations, as well as access to mobile devices that allow us to think and produce amazing things on the go, small ideas are creating major waves across the world.
There are some truly powerful, successful brands being developed right now. But alongside each successful brand, there are tons of “also-ran” brands that failed within their first year or maybe a few years in.
When you plant a seed, you need to water it and care for it if you ever want it to bring fruit to the surface. For entrepreneurs, launching a startup works in a very similar way.
It all starts with an idea (the seed). Then you need a solid business plan to ensure you have direction. Entrepreneurs need to think about the full scope of growing the business and not just how “great” their idea might be.
This means you need to have digital marketing strategies in place, perform market research, find the right set of people to grow your idea, consider your finances, and so much more. This is the watering of the seed and the sunlight shining on it to make your seed (read: your startup) grow.
But to fulfill the dream of establishing a successful startup, it is essential to study the common mistakes encountered by entrepreneurs who’ve gone before you to protect yourself from repeating the same mistakes they did.
Let’s dive in and look at some common mistakes you need to avoid as an entrepreneur to keep your business growing.
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Common startup mistakes to avoid at all costs
All the processes and responsibilities related to launching and growing a startup make it challenging for any business owner to keep tabs on everything, which can lead to mistakes. Fortunately, as we mentioned, there are plenty of entrepreneurs who’ve gone before you.
As such, we’ve compiled a list of five of the biggest mistakes many entrepreneurs have made that have led to slow growth, business closures, or other challenges. Take care to avoid each of them.
Poor and low-cost hiring choices
Employees are the most important assets of any organization. Skillful, loyal employees stay true to your startup’s goals and strive to help you achieve them. They work hard, and they bring top-level talent to the equation.
You have a lot of hiring to do as an entrepreneur, specifically as your business grows. People to deal with your finances, an HR team, marketing team members like social media managers, a marketing director, copywriters, and tons of other people.
Bringing on superior talent tends to cost more, but it’s fully worth it, as your brand will grow much more quickly than if you hire a bunch of low-quality employees.
While you may save money by hiring the lowest bidder, often, the quality that comes along with that level of talent is equal to the money you fork over. Hiring low-cost team members or outsourcing to the cheapest consultant can hinder growth and even hurt your business to the point where you may need to shutter your doors.
If the choice is between paying a higher rate and getting top talent vs. saving a ton of money and getting low-quality work, always choose the first option. This may mean hiring a higher-cost consultant or contractor or paying someone more on a part-time basis until you can hire them full-time, but the production and quality of work you’ll get in that shorter time will beat 100 hours of low-quality work every day of the week,
Failing to upgrade your technology
With the world advancing technologically at a faster and faster pace, it’s mission-critical that you review where your startup stands with regard to technology. If you find you’re falling behind, it’s time your business gets busy with a digital transformation.
Companies can leverage new innovations to alleviate the burden and human errors in mundane activities. Think about artificial intelligence (AI), for example. AI can help your team be more productive by taking tasks off their plate such as email responses that could be automated, updating your CRM, scheduling social media, making editing and proofreading more efficient, paying your team members, and so much more.
There are plenty of other technologies startups can benefit from as well. HR software, platforms to keep track of your finances, time-tracking software if you work with freelancers, and the list goes on…and on. If you aren’t leveraging the power of technology in today’s digital world, you’ll fall behind quickly, and your startup will fail to grow.
Ignoring employee benefits
Happy employees tend to stay loyal to your organization. Paying your team members well and giving them the benefits they need to live happy comfortable lives goes a long way in retaining the best talent in your industry.
Employee benefits, however, go far beyond just how much you pay your people or the type of healthcare benefits you offer. You need to find creative ways to keep your people happy.
As an employer, you can develop recognition ideas to show appreciation for your team members’ accomplishments. You can give bonuses when your team performs at high levels. Even things like company outings, holiday gifts, team building events, and other such perks can go a long way in building team unity and giving your team a sense of connection to your business.
If you miss out on the opportunity here, your team can start to feel lost and unappreciated. When this happens, you’ll find your startup becomes the victim of a mass exodus.
Your competitors are likely touting things like company culture, pay, and other benefits, so once you sign the top folks in your space, make sure you take all the steps necessary to retain them.
Unsatisfactory Customer Support
As an early-stage startup, finding customers immediately can be a challenging task. Once you do start to build your customer base, finding ways to keep them happy and boost customer satisfaction are of utmost importance.
Reputation builds fast. Large, more established companies have the luxury of shrugging off a bad review or two. As a startup trying to gain your foothold as a newbie in the space, that isn’t the case.
Let’s say you have two five-star reviews. Then you upset two customers, and suddenly your star rating drops to a three. That’s going to make it extra difficult to grab that next customer.
Consumers are becoming more and more digitally savvy and they’re doing tons of research on you before you even know they exist. So, make sure your reputation is squeaky clean, or it could impact your startup’s ability to earn new clients.
As you can see by looking at the visual above, 56% of customers who have a bad experience with your brand will never use your company again. That’s a huge number. If you suddenly lost 56% of your clients, your startup would be in serious trouble.
Another thing to consider is that word-of-mouth travels quickly. If you have even one unsatisfied client, that person can convince others to not work with you as well. You can’t avoid unhappy clients altogether. It does happen to every business. But, you need to put as many steps in place to avoid negative vibes out there as you possibly can.
Long performance measurement cycles
There are always upgrades necessary to the products you release into the market. Before every release, the product has to go through quality checks and tests which sometimes take months to process.
An overall quality check results in 100% output and will help you build the right tools and make tweaks over time to improve your offerings. On the flip side, the more quality checks needed to test the product, the more time and money will be spent on the project. Your time to market can go up, and your customers can become unhappy.
Sometimes, as a startup, it’s best to move fast and put more iterative processes in place to ensure your customers stay satisfied. Just make sure you do things the right way and you aren’t cutting corners. That’s not what moving fast means.
To get the best results, look to improve your processes and become more efficient. This allows you to implement each process quickly and reduce the cost and time needed in the system.
Summing it up
Each startup journey is different, but there are certain mistakes that loom over the heads of all entrepreneurs. Be sure to plan ahead and put things in place to help avoid falling victim to any of the above mistakes.
These are the major mistakes that startups generally make while building up their brand, and they can reduce the demands of the public for your products or services and ultimately deal a crushing blow.
Keep this list on hand, and be sure to revisit it and compare it to your business plan and the processes you have in place to ensure you avoid any missteps. Don’t rush yourself and your organization, and listen to mentors and other entrepreneurs about how they built their empire.