Today is Friday the 13th – unlucky for some, but not for all. For the record, I’m far from superstitious, but I have had some rather unlucky encounters and learned from the misfortune of others too.
Life as an entrepreneur has its ups and downs, and the road to success can be bumpy, winding, and anything but straight. Here are a few of the ‘potholes’ I have learned to avoid:
Not Having A Market Position & Zero Competitive Research
Research is crucial to the conception and realisation of a new business or product. Entrepreneurs may be able to dream up innovative ideas, but without extensive research it will be impossible to know if their concept already exists, who the main competitors are and how it will fit into the current competitive market, while standing out from the crowd.
Time invested in research is never wasted. In the short term it will facilitate a smooth and market-relevant product launch, and long term can be adapted to compare the market for similar products, examine price variations, competition and develop marketing and promotion strategies.
A Small or Unscalable Idea
I am speaking at a business event in London on December the 3rd and 4th about having a start-up idea and how to scale it. I have seen multiple start-ups fail simply because the idea has not been thought through properly. Investors are keen to back companies who are already successful. This doesn’t mean that without a hefty amount of cash in the bank you don’t have a chance at gaining investment, it just means that you need to work hard to prove the potential of your concept or product.
Many investors are looking for scalable ideas and mass appeal – this comes from creating a product or service with a large and diverse target audience. While small businesses with niche ideas are valuable and can certainly be profitable, they may not attract as much professional investment,
No Strategy For Sending The Product To Market
Once you’ve had ‘the big idea’ idea, carried out research and realised you can scale it, you need to create a strategy!
I have seen many entrepreneurs reach this point and then stumble, not having a further strategy in place. This could be down to lack of focus, but believe me, creating a strategy is of utmost importance if you want to gain growth.
Successful entrepreneurs are reflective business people – having a concrete strategy to critique in months or years to come is invaluable when starting another new business or taking the existing one in a new direction.
Sometimes, despite Herculean efforts, some ideas just do not work out. It’s okay to admit you have failed and cut your losses. Of course I wouldn’t recommend giving up straight away, at least not until you have explored the possibility that there may be one key change necessary to reverse the fortunes of a floundering business. This means you need to be flexible and open to change, even if this change was not something you first envisaged.
Lost The Love
Selling your idea, brand or product needs passion. It needs dedication and you need to be 100% behind it. Unfortunately, I have seen many entrepreneurs lose the love and passion they once had. Once the love is gone, so is the determination to make it work. You have to be prepared for both the good and the bad times of being an entrepreneur and without passion, you’ll struggle to persuade others to invest in you too.
Firstly your team should understand that the whole process from start-up to scale-up will not be smooth or easy. However, as their boss you should be prepared to motivate and incentivize them to keep them on task and satisfied.
I would recommend devising a share scheme for your employees – this will allow them to feel as much as a part of the company as the founder. Added responsibility and accountability undoubtedly produces better results. Other benefits include a more loyal and motivated team who are committed far above and beyond a regular 9 to 5.
Not investing in the development and growth of your team can be a costly mistake – firing and rehiring regularly will take up valuable time and resources which would be far better utilised in growth and strategy.
Plan, Plan and Plan Again!
Along with research, planning is essential! Create a financial plan, as well as a long-term roadmap. You need to consider where you want your business to be in one, five or ten years. These plans, of course, will be amended over time accordingly, but they will be major help as your business grows and you can keep it on track.
Finally, Just Bad Luck and Bad Timing
Unfortunately nobody can predict the future, therefore there is always the chance that another company will bring out a similar product or service to you and do a lot better. You also cannot predict how the markets will function over the next ten years.
Businesses will continue to flounder or flourish, sometimes inexplicably so.
Certain factors will always be out of your control. However, as long as you have your plans in place, you should be able to overcome some of these issues, even if this means riding out the bad times and waiting for the good times to roll again!
So Friday the 13th may be unlucky, but hopefully won’t be unlucky for start-ups and entrepreneurs after reading this article! Leave a comment below with your personal stories on your own unlucky experiences!