Start Up 101- The Most Common Mistake in Start Ups
I think that most would agree and most studies support the simple fact that most start ups fail due to lack of funds and communication breakdown. In my experience in start ups, I have been fortunate to be a part of successful ones and ones that have failed. In the ones that have gone sour these two reasons were the culprits. Now in looking back at my experience, I want to shed some light on what I think is the real underlying reason or the source of it, and I hope this helps any founders out there or young ambitious entrepreneurs who are about to embark on their dream.
So we have all heard the common story where two or three friends band together around an idea or concept which they believe has real potential in a market. Typically, then a lot of research is done about their market, a website & brand is developed, and its off to the races. At this stage there may be a formal business plan or simply one sketched on a whiteboard most likely(goodbye b-plans on napkins). Anyway, the race to get the product or service to the market is on and then the rubber hits the road as they say. What happens next?
The small team with their new product or service typically comes back with their tail between their legs and wonders why the market is not as excited as they are about their new great thing. This is where a start up truly begins and how they respond is where their future is decided. This is where the start up needs to:
- Start really LISTENING to your audience.
- Quickly adapt your service/product to better fit your audience’s needs.
- Go back out to your market to test & measure and then repeat….and repeat.
If these tactics are not done in an efficient manner, then a lot of time and money is wasted and the slow road to crashing on your friend’s couch is inevitable. So in keeping in line with the title & point of this post, this is where communication breakdown usually starts as founders & marketing start to debate which new message will resonate in their market and compel their audience to try their product/service. So a new message or two is quickly developed usually on a hunch and perhaps the product/service is tailored a bit as well and then its back to the testing ground. Maybe after this round or many subsequent rounds of testing and measuring something starts to work a little, maybe a lot or you are doing nowhere. If you are in the camp of working a little or the product/service is simply just not taking off, this is where the tempers start to rise and frustration ensues as time and money is going out the door. This is where difference of opinions start to flare up, emotions are tested and internal communication can falter. So what was the real culprit behind this downfall? Let’s face it it is usually a lack of listening to your audience and most likely a message that is simply not catching on. So then the team usually goes back out to the market with this message that is not working but they believe it is going to work. So they push this message, and push it and drive it event harder, and we know what the inevitable outcome is.
How can this be avoided?
- Healthy & realistic expectations. Keep in mind most start ups (9.9 out of 10!) don’t take off on their first try or even their 1st year.)
- Homework about your market segment (pricing, personas & is there a real need here?)
- Structures in place that can quickly measure your performance so that you can adapt quickly. (weekly meetings discussing results help too.)
- Getting your Story right. Let’s face it, this is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle especially in today’s content marketing world. If your story does not resonate then you had better fix this fast instead of trying to keep pushing it. (Why is your product/service unique? What differentiates it in its market? And why do people have to have your product/service? What problem does your product/service solve? Focus on your products/service unique benefits NOT features. Please note that part of this is a learned art & science).
Hope this helps & Happy Selling!
Wright Brothers Early Tests