Time to get practical – why your startup could fail

17th Oct 2016
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It’s very common to overlook problems while you’re just starting out. But there is no better time than the beginning to foresee those thatcould spell the downfall of your startup. While it is true that you cannot see the absolute future, it is irrational to leave all problems to your poor, unprepared future self. The most proven way of avoiding mistakes is to learn from that of others. So here are the most common blunders you can learn to avoid.

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Dopeople need your startup after all?

Save yourself some precious time and ask this in the very beginning. Most products and services fail to last in the market because they don’t target the need of the customer. If customersonly use your product because theywant to and not because they need to, there is no real demand for it. They could simply choose to stop using it; this is when your startup could be in trouble. When you recognise a need, you are essentially solving a market problem, but if you’re not contributing to a solution the market will not treat you kindly.

Are you too proud to accept suggestions?

When you’re not open to different perspectives, your business vision loses flexibility. Getting caught up in your own idea of what’s right and wrong and dismissing inputs from others in the industry can be very dangerous for your staratup. In the fervour of getting right the administrative aspects of a startup, many tend to ignore another important perspective –a customer’s. Not giving importance to customer feedback will be equivalent to walking blind, and your startup will eventually head for a fall.

Is planning painful? If not, you could be doing something wrong

If strategic planning is not set in motion from the beginning, you will tend to lose sight of where your startup’s headed. When you don’t know where you stand in comparison with the market, you will neither know how to use your strengths nor how to work on your weaknesses. Getting into a fierce market demands a solid plan of action and to act, one needs to first understand the playing field. Without this knowledge and without an ability to foresee problems, you could be hurting your chances of survival.

Do you have a good team to back you up?

Following your customers, your team is the most essential contributing factor to your startup. Having a team that isn’t diverse or skilled enough to handle unprecedented problems could stall the growth of your startup. While a good team can lessen the burden of responsibilities form your shoulder, an incompetent one will only add to it; this results in an all-round low efficiency when you should be aiming for exactly the opposite. Low efficiency will cost you time and money, thereby looting you of all your essential resources.

Are you running out of funds?

While this seems like an obvious problem that doesn’t need psychic abilities, there are many reasons that are not so apparentfor why you could end up with a parched capital.While planning your finances, you could have overlooked the need to save for unexpected expenses that turned out to be difficult to recover from. You could make the mistake of investing everything in the beginning or expanding too soon. Maybe you didn’t conduct a cost-benefit analysis before directing your flow of capital into a decision, oryou didn’t expect customer acquisitions costs to be higher than the value of that customer. You couldn’t find the right investors. Or a classic, you couldn’t repay your debt. One needs to be wary of expenditure at all times in order to be on good terms with the money monster.

Can your marketing strategy withstand market quakes?

You could have a product or service with sky-rocketing value, but if you don’t have an effective process of making it market and customer ready, you will be serving a delicious meal gone cold. Product production, sales strategy, public relations and product advertisement are systematic steps of a strong marketing strategy and they need to be planned meticulously. Failing to pay attention to even one aspect of product marketing will mean heading unprepared into the storm.

Do you know the value of your service?

There are two ways you could wrongly price your product or service. One, when you don’t have a sound understanding of your target audience, and two, when you don’t know your competition like the back of your hand. Wrong pricing can cost you customers and once you lose them, all you leave behind is a bad impression.An expertise in the domain you’re entering, an understanding of the valuation of your product or service, and accounting for market unpredictability are your saviours from aneasily avoidable disaster.

How well can you pivot?

Although systematic planning is a must for entrepreneurs, what really decidestheir success is the room they leave for unpredictability. Unprecedented problems arise all the time and if you’re not prepared to improvise and make necessary but difficult changes, you might very well announce your failure.Changes are always difficult and especially so when they contradict the initial vision of your startup.If you want to succeed, however, you will have to learn to adapt.

Do you know of more obstacles that budding entrepreneurs could learn to avoid or handle? Do let us know in the comments below!

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