Homerun Nievera, Negosentro.com | Launching a startup is exciting, terrifying, and an open invitation to make crippling mistakes. In the rush to take your idea to market, you can find yourself overlooking crucial decisions or rushing through decisions that need more consideration. It’s understandable. Founders are often bombarded with decisions that seem like they need immediate solutions. The good news is that startups can survive some mistakes. There are, however, other mistakes will cripple your new business in the short and long-term. Here are a few to watch out for.
You’ve got an idea for a service or a product. You’re making it available. That’s the end of the story, right? In a word, no. If you haven’t set out clear goals, you’ll soon find yourself floundering. For example, have you settled on a growth strategy? Who are you targeting? How much market share do you need to survive? How much to thrive? How will capture initial market share and how will you grow it?
Goals aren’t completely set in stone, and shouldn’t be. Market conditions change and you might discover that your idea needs modification. Without setting out clear goals for a market segment and market share on a timetable, you leave your company primed for distraction. You can end up abandoning your existing product or processes in favor of the shiniest new thing.
The Perfect Becomes the Enemy of the Good
The pursuit of perfection can leave your startup mired in permanent pre-launch. You may know that with a bit more time, you can get those extra features worked into the product. Yet, as you burn through capital and time, no one is buying the product. You’re not getting any useful feedback from customers. The product or service as-is might be exactly what the market is looking for, except you don’t know it.
Take a cue from Lean Startup Methodology and aim for a minimum viable product. In essence, a minimum viable product solves the fundamental problem you’re attacking. It doesn’t need to solve every possible variant of the problem or offer extremely advanced features. If it can solve the essential problem, some customers will jump on board. This creates some positive cash flow. It also generates the all-important feedback you need to add features customers want, not just features you imagine they might want.
Being a Control Freak
It’s your business and you want to know every detail of every decision that affects it. That’s fine when you’re running a small team. If your business starts to grow, though, that approach reaches a failure point in a hurry. By the time you’ve got 15 or 20 people working for you, you simply cannot keep track of every decision everyone makes. Trying will only slow down your business’ growth.
You must delegate some authority. Create processes or handbooks to guide employee decisions and behaviors. Talk to employees who make bad decisions about their decision-making process. Odds are good that they thought they were doing what they were supposed to do. These conversations can expose gaps in your existing guidance and help you refine your training.
Launching a startup is a big decision and filled with chances to make mistakes. Some mistakes you can weather, while others will cripple your business. Make a point to set out clear goals so everyone directs their actions strategically, not just tactically. Create a minimum viable product that solves the essential problem. You can always refine it after you get customer feedback. Accept that delegation is necessary. You don’t have the mental bandwidth to oversee every decision in your business. Trying will only slow everything down.
Homerun Nievera is the publisher of Negosentro.com and WorldExecutivesDigest.com. He has interests in several tech and digital businesses as director and chief strategist.