It is daunting to be your own boss. It is so easy to fall prey to the day to day activities of a business and to let that become your routine. As a founder, it is important to get out of that routine every now and then to have a bird’s eye view on a situation that one may find themselves in. Here are 5 points to check yourself on.
1. Falling in love with their idea
It is difficult to tread the fine line between believing in your idea and being in love with your idea. Believing in your idea equips you with the resilience you need as an entrepreneur. You will often be approached by individuals who will question the feasibility, or the impact of your business idea and it is important for you to have studied the matter enough to be able to defend why you believe in it.
But falling in love implies something different.Granted, love is blinding: But in business, this can cost you a lot. Falling in love with your business means that for some reason you have some deep emotional attachment and an emotional stake in your company’s success or failure. The result of this can lead to the founder(s) being, excuse the pun, blinded by all the bright aspects of the business and often ignoring the red flags. It can also mean that you end up relying far too much on your own efforts to make the business work as opposed to finding the sustainable ways for you to grow.
2. Misunderstanding the Launch
Presenting your work to people can be a hard thing to do. It’s a brave thing to put one’s work out to the public and to have people use it, critique it and even at times compliment it. As a result, I often find entrepreneurs meticulously fine tuning their products before going to market. Now my advice here is by no means: “Forget attention to detail.”! It is however important to stay lean in the early phases of your venture and the reason for this is twofold:
- Staying lean as a business means you are deploying the exact right resources to a precise aim. It saves you time, money and a lot of other resources.
- Launching your business is very similar to testing a scientific hypothesis. Your aim is to assess the customer’s needs and the best way to do so is to keep your product lean. The more features (variables) you add to your product, the more difficult it becomes to truly assess the feedback. Staying lean allows you to limit your variables and to get accurate customer feedback.
The launch of your product need not compete Apple’s new iPhone releases. There are several ways in which you can launch:
- Launching through a party where you invite your friends and family and ask them for their honest, anonymous feedback.
- Launching to your online community: Create a social media page and assess what feedback you get. Are you getting genuine interest? Or do you need to add more value to your product?
- Launch at Universities: this can be an excellent way to gauge customer feedback if you are building a product/ service that caters to a younger age bracket.
Another unfortunate, yet common, misconception is that if you release your product or service too soon, then other people may start copying it. However, the truth of the matter is that launching at an early stage identifies you as the first mover, enables you to gauge your customer feedback first hand and starts generating trust amongst your customers.
3. Not paying enough attention to regulatory frameworks.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t always the most glamorous job. It is a thrill to be accountable for your own business but if Spider man’s grand father taught us anything: with great power comes great responsibly. Running a business means being accountable and creditable to stakeholders. These can be your clients, your partners, investors and even your employees. It means paying your taxes and obtaining the right licenses and permits. Failure to do may result in fines and/ or delayed delivery of services both of which are not a very appealing phenomenon for stakeholders to want to work with you.
There is a reason why they say being employed is a secure road to take: Being an entrepreneur means payroll for employees, accounting and taxes. It can be easy to take it for granted when you work for a big company, but it becomes a challenge when you don’t have the resources dedicated to do just that in your company. These are also very sensitive aspects of businesses, as small mistakes can end up costing you a lot.
4. Not innovating in time
Innovation can often be tied to the word startup but, a startup that is innovative is in fact always diversifying what it has to offer to its consumers and by so doing is creating barriers to entry.
Not innovating in time can have disastrous consequences for a company of any size. It allows the competition to catch up with what you offer your customers, decreasing your share of the market. A good example is the strategic failure that caused Kodak’s decade long decline in growth as digital photography took over bigger and bigger portions of their customer base. In this situation, Kodak didn’t exactly fail because they failed to innovate; they released the first digital camera in 1975 but failed to market it correctly by fear of damaging their already lucrative film business. This allowed time to their competitors to develop their digital solutions which ended up significantly damaging Kodak’s revenue over the decade that was to come.
5. Human Resources Management and Leadership
A business depends heavily on the human resources it is built with. There comes a time in every founder’s journey when they must decide between hiring the more competent person versus hiring the person that is just starting out but is asking for less. One might initially think that this could be good for the business cash flow, after all cash is king! But it is also important to note that if you treat your employees correctly, show them that their development is also important to you then they actually become assets that grow and generate more and more revenue for you as you start to expand your business.