All startup founders understand that getting their startups to the growth stage will present some challenges. Sometimes they are well-known and sometimes they are surprising, either because the founder does not know about them, does not know how to face them, or does not have the resources to do so. Knowing what challenges to anticipate, particularly during the earlier stages, will help you be better prepared to address them when they arise.
Before getting to a stage where your customers are buying your products or services in large numbers and telling others about them, you have to ensure there is a good fit between the customer and what you are selling.
Since you already know your niche, you can conduct customer research in line with it to find customers who would be interested in your business. In addition to identifying potential customers, your research should also focus on finding out their needs, wants, and pain points so you can present your products or services as the best solution.
When developing either, define the competencies that make them a good fit for the market and target audience. In short, you want to make sure that your customers genuinely want or need your products or services, so that you can be confident in your ability to generate repeat sales.
At this time, also work on product differentiation and niche competition strategies to avoid clashing with bigger competitors, which can make it harder to garner market share.
Every startup needs money, and it is your duty as a founder to keep it flowing. In most cases, a founder takes on funding as an investment or for equity in the business. To ensure money does not become an issue before it takes off, founders should find ways of keeping their initial expenses as low as possible. Here are some easy ways to cut some of your overhead expenses to free up cash flow:
Poor financial management can lead to cash flow issues that hinder progress in marketing, product development, and other areas.
The key is to ensure enough funding and cash flow to get to the next level without running out or looking for additional funding or investments.
Not planning or covering everything the startup requires from the first day can cause your startup to struggle or even fail before it gets out of the early startup stage. Critical areas such as staffing, funding, development, sales, and skill shortages should never be an afterthought.
Also, prepare for the unexpected by having a plan in place. If you do not, you will be setting yourself up for turbulence that you may not know how to deal with, or that you may not be able to overcome.
Every startup faces challenges before it gets going. Every founder should understand the most common challenges at the early stage and plan for them. Doing so is the best way of avoiding unexpected turns that can put it at risk of failure.
The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.
To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.