Having a great business concept and executing it effectively aren’t mutually exclusive. However, my experience working with startups has taught me that there is much more to it than a good idea, passion and work ethic. Simple planning and effective strategy can help you steer clear of these common pitfalls:
1) Lack of Focus
Fear of Missing Out (also known by Millennials as FOMO) can lead to a lot of swinging strikeouts, and not enough time spent sitting on the ball and waiting for the right moment to take a swing. Moving beyond baseball analogies, many promising young companies are plagued by targeting too broad a market.
2) Invest in Marketing Too Soon
OK, back to the baseball analogies. For a young company, ineffective marketing strategy can be a huge drain on time and resources- like an ace pitcher who has been left in the game for too many innings and blows an arm. Pay attention to the pitch count! Invest in the right marketing campaign, and track your funnel’s key performance indicators- and be strategic- so you don’t squander your working capital, like a fresh bullpen.
3) Inadequate Competitive Research
When launching a start-up, the impulse is to hit the ground running, without a firm grasp on the marketplace, or fully understanding who you are going up against. Think of competitive research like a scouting report- make an effort to explore your competition’s strength and weaknesses. Then capitalize on that.
What ideas have you absorbed from competitors that make sense to implement in your business plan? What ideas can you improve upon and make your own? Ask yourself and your team “What sets us apart from the competition?” and come up with a solid answer to that question before moving forward.
4) Misinterpreting Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
I have worked with start-ups for years and have had great mentors along the way. One of the most valuable pieces of advice you can receive is to develop a clear understanding of MVP, and it will save you time, money and headaches. Don’t mistake the “viable” in MVP for what is viable to your current cash or tech constraints, when it truly means an exploration and understanding of what is most viable for your customer and user.
5) Putting Concepts Before Customer Pains
Instead of throwing out concepts to see what clicks, devote some time and resources to listening to the needs of your target audience. Listen to what they need, as opposed to telling them. Becoming the solution to a problem that already exists for them is infinitely easier and more effective than convincing them of a problem they are unaware of that you can solve.
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