Being a startup is an incredibly exciting period for a company. It is a period of fresh ideas, new perspectives, opportunities for growth, and meeting new people. However, this also exposes your growing business to a minefield of mistakes. Unfortunately, nine out of ten startups fail, which is why this period of scaling up is incredibly crucial. Not only is it a time of continuous learning, it is also when mistakes made are somewhat acceptable.
The Common Mistakes
Any missteps that come your way while growing your business have happened before. This makes it easy to list down some of the most common mistakes to avoid for a growing business. Some are quite obvious on paper, but it’s better to know what to expect and see if you can remedy them before they escalate.
Not Knowing Your Target Audience
A business cannot be a jack of all trades, especially a growing one. Catering to every consumer may seem like it will yield the best results, but it actually growth for a startup. It’s crucial to plan and execute a successful marketing strategy for any growing company. The first step is to address your brand positioning. Think of how you are different against competitors, what your brand represents, and business capabilities. Basically, you strategize how you want to present your brand. This then is the foundation of your target audience, advertising platforms, and messaging.
Once you have that covered, only then will you identify your target audience, then do initial research from there. Knowing who is interested in your business will define how and where you advertise, or even how to shape improve your product/service based on current market perceptions.
Properly defining your target audience is what ensures that site traffic generates profits and consumers; an essential when creating a better online presence. This also ensures that you get the most bang for your buck whenever you advertise. Skipping this important step can lead to marketing on the wrong platform or bad execution of advertising campaigns. It may seem like it’s best to just throw your ads against the wall and see who is interested, but never underestimate the power of initial audience research.
Having a Generic Brand
Branding is your company’s personality. In a sea of startups and big recognizable names, companies need to stand out. It is what keeps customers’ attention towards your business against others, and what gravitates them towards your products/services. Factors like these are what steer customer perception. There are different types of brands and ways to properly create an image, but initial research and proper execution will always be crucial.
It’s true that no idea is original, and generic branding will drown among the competition. What defines most brands can be their mission and goals, to simply their logo or color scheme. In the 1950’s, Oreo and Hydrox were caught in what is known as the “biscuit wars” being virtually the same cookie, fighting to be number one. Oreo won that battle, but they did so by branding themselves effectively as “America’s Favorite Cookie“. The point is, it is a mistake to neglect branding as it can make or break a growing business.
Doing Everything Yourself
Once you have a good team, it is often hard for startup owners to transition from worker to leader. While being completely hands-on to your business is wildly romanticized, it’s not exactly sustainable in the long run.
Improper work delegation is a common mistake for a growing business. We tend to forget that managing a good team means cultivating one. There are two reasons why most people refuse to delegate work properly: either they do not trust their team, or are afraid of giving too much work. Those that micromanage a team lose a good percentage of morale, and can even hurt productivity. And while it is admirable to keep your team’s workload in mind, delegating important tasks to your team boosts morale, shows trust and builds skill sets. In the long run, teams will be less burnt out, and create an air of open collaboration.
Not Having a Workforce Strategy
As a growing business, you will often start small. Most likely, you’re working with a team of 5-10 people who have placed their trust in you and your company. This team may be on or offshore, housed in a working space or fully remote. Either way, it’s tempting to expand immediately once you get the ball rolling. However, never underestimate the value of investing into your small team. Sure, you can get a larger office space with a cool ping pong table or gaming room. But, priorities should be towards the team that has helped you get this far, and will continue to do so.
Always invest in your current team through ways that are built into their benefits. There are several ways to do this, like scheduling monthly in-person or virtual get-togethers to strengthen your team’s personal connections. A period where there’s no talk of work, and instead a bonding experience. It’s also important to budget in avenues for growth such as workshops or training programs; professionally and personally. These show that investing in employee engagement is vital for a growing business. Without employee engagement, there is no team engagement, and growth outcomes lean towards unpredictability.
Trust the Process
The bottom line is to trust the process. Being a growing business means that you are in an exciting period where new opportunities pop up, along with their set of challenges. These may seem quite tedious, or even nonessential to your core processes. But these do ensure stability and sustainability as you build business. It’s necessary to shift perspectives and look for further options for sustainable growth when you’re a startup. Industries like offshoring can help scale your business without hindering your overall growth.
Always keep in mind that these mistakes are common because most of them are inevitable. The important thing is to remedy the situation as you grow, and to never stop learning.