It’s hard to lead a charge if you think you look funny on a horse: Adlai E Stevenson II
Starting a new business is exciting. There are new prospects, new developments, and an unprecedented shift in the world. However, a multitude of problems springs to life as soon as you delve into the realm of startup ventures, especially in the first few years.
Some of the roadblocks are entirely avoidable, and some, not so much. But they exist. Here are five crucial roadblocks that can stop you from becoming one of the future Fortune 500 companies:
Capital investment – and the lack of it
You are probably wondering why I am talking about lack of capital when there is a blitzkrieg of investors, angel funding and venture capitalists. The over-expectations, sudden inflow of cash and pressure to expand and secure more funds ultimately leads to a burnout. A spectacular example of such a blow up would be the housing sector. Short-term solutions to success do not ensure profitability in the long run.
The best solution to this would be to bootstrap and build a strong foundation, with a significant market traction and customer base before going for seed funding and capital investment. Treat your cash like gold, and learn the numbers. This will ensure the growth and profitability of the company independent of the cash inflow.
Employee shortage – finding talent with the ‘drive’
Employees are the heart of every organisation, and this rings even truer for startups. You need high- quality, hard-working employees with a proper attitude and cultural synergy with your company. For extremely well-funded companies, this is not such an issue, but for the rest of the startups counting every penny, attrition can soon become a nightmare.
Hiring directly from colleges requires a lot of time and effort, most of which new startups can’t afford. To hire good employees, the basic expectation of salary is also quite skewed, making it difficult for bootstrapped startups to make ends meet while keeping the talent in the team.
Build your networks — interact with people both attached to your business and outside. Take help from your mentor, and focus on building a healthy relationship with each one of your employees.
The most successful entrepreneurs are the most connected ones.
Lack of marketing strategy – reach the right audience
There are a lot of companies with the same ideas as you. What differentiates you from your competitors is your ‘hook’. A lot of startups invest heavily in the technical aspects but fail to market them properly to the target audience, thus losing potential customers and profitability in the long run.
You pave the road your startup will take. Be it your USP (unique selling proposition), UVP (unique value proposition) or the purple cow, make sure you define it and market yourself as a unique offering to your customer. It’s all about the WOW factor.
Conflict of ideas – misdirected focus
As your startup grows, new ideas will come forward. Some are worth pursuing, and some are not. Difficult decisions are a major part of making a startup sustainable, and this is also one of the major roadblocks every entrepreneur faces.
To stay ahead of your competitors, you must brainstorm new ideas and constantly reinvent your product. You will keep asking questions like “Is my idea commercially viable?” or thinking “I have too many ideas and I don’t know where to start.”
Start somewhere, and make your way to the top.
Crunch in yield and profitability – survival of the fittest
Science is fun. Building a new product is even more fun. But beyond the gears of a startup lies the basic mantra of making money and becoming self-sustainable. In the quest for making the best product out there, entrepreneurs often fail to understand the commercial viability and the return on investment.
Learn the numbers. Even if it’s not fun, it ensures you have the resources to continue in the long run while allowing your startup to mature into a successful business, and hopefully a trendsetter.
Cultural misfit – how you make them work together
A startup is a den for talented people with the very distinct mindset of being very good at something. That ‘something’ is what makes them unique, reckless, and perfect for a startup. But what if your ideals don’t match? What if the vision of the new employee you hired is not the same as yours? A fallout often ensues and the aftermath is not a pretty sight.
Friends leave. Misunderstandings grow. In a startup, every employee is precious, and the culture very closely knitted together. Thus, a small ripple creates long-lasting effects. It is essential for the employee’s mindset to be in tune with your ideals and your vision for the startup. This ensures everyone sticks with you through thick and thin.
The odds are many, but none of them is completely unavoidable. With dedication, grit, conviction, and faith in your team and your startup, you can very well start making your way to the Fortune 500. Don’t let anyone hold you back.
Go build your dream and make a difference.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
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