The way to a stable company is long; an unfamiliar path that can be full of obstacles, especially for first-time business owners. Each project and each team behind it come with their own unique circumstances, and so are their mishaps and shortcomings. However, some mistakes keep popping up.
Experienced consultants from the South Moravian Innovation Centre (www.jic.cz) bring you 6 tips on how to avoid some of the common mistakes that can end your project prematurely.
1] No wasting!
A waste of time, money or energy is something that you really cannot afford in the initial stages – neither when you’re just considering whether to embark on a particular project, nor during the actual start-up of the company.
Time is sometimes referred to as the rarest commodity in the business world. Similar ideas are often born at the same time in different heads. That’s why it’s so important to enter your market among the first ones there. In this case, it doesn’t have to be the bigger fish that wins; more likely, it’d the faster one.
Put your money and energy only into tasks and ideas that are really needed and ready at the moment. For example, investing into branding when you’re not yet clear about who your customers are can (and probably will) be a waste of money. Apply the same rule when introducing a new product. First, check which specific features your customers really appreciate the most in the first phase and focus on those. Others can wait until you reach the next stage of development.
2] Burning bright or burning out?
Without proper time management, you’re facing the real risk of burnout. It takes a while to see proper results. You and your team may simply stop having fun with all this work and nothing to see for it.
Set specific and reasonably ambitious goals. Continuously evaluating your achievements will help with your motivation. If the pace isn’t to your liking, then you need to ask yourself a difficult question: “Are we moving on, or should we rather wrap it up?” Sometimes, it’s better to face a smaller disappointment now and start using your energy for a different project with higher potential.
3] Eyes on the prize
As soon as you start sharing your project with other people (business partners, mentors, investors, customers), they’ll come up with many opportunities to improve it. You’ll be tempted to upgrade your product, make another version, or you might even get invited to start-up competitions, programs or conferences.
It’s essential to properly consider whether such an opportunity will actually help you reach your goals at this stage. If not, then shelve it or politely refuse. Now’s the time to keep your focus sharp.
4] Assumptions vs. facts
A frequent problem of entrepreneurs-beginners is the inability to distinguish between speculations and reality. It’s better to admit what you really know and have verified, and what you only suspect. No worries, over time, there’ll be more facts and fewer hypotheses. But a certain amount of uncertainty is part of every business, and you have to accept that. It’s about finding the right balance and knowing how much information you need to make a decision with a clear conscience.
5] Leap into the unknown
Learn to be decisive. The path to a successful project is full of crossroads and you need to be able to make swift decisions and change your plans on any such imaginary junction.
Starting a business cannot be simplified to a clear, linear process. Rather, it consists of many steps connected to each other. You need to decide which one is to be taken first and when. Also, you can be sure that some things won’t turn out as you’ve planned. Accept that making bold and risky moves is a necessary part of your journey.
6] Beware of loneliness
The role of a company founder can be extremely lonely. You may have no one to share your sorrows and joys with. However, there are some ways to avoid such isolation.
You can have a co-founder who bears a share of your responsibility and risks. Be very careful, finding the right business partner is as difficult as finding a life partner. Don’t rush it!
Or, find an external advisor, mentor or someone whose judgment you trust and with whom you will be able to share your experience. Recently, advisory boards consisting of experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts have become increasingly popular among start-ups.
Get involved in the community of people who are in a similar situation. Whether it’s mastermind groups, communities around incubators or accelerators, or just a bunch of acquaintances who are also starting a business.
You can start by entering the business expat community in Brno.
But mainly, hang in there!
Success does not come overnight. You can be sure you’ll face many low points among the rush and joy of making your ideas a reality. In these moments, try to remember why you started and how much your project means to you. And then carry on.
The article was originally written in Czech, by Hana Šudáková from jic.cz