I know the rollercoaster ride entrepreneurs face when first starting out, I know how tough it is to get started and how easily you can become dejected and lose focus.
Sadly, there is no foolproof guide to creating a successful business – it takes hard work, dedication and a serious commitment and belief in your business.
As the old saying goes though, you have to be in it to win it!
You will make mistakes throughout your business journey – it’s inevitable that somewhere along the way you’ll say ‘yes’ to something you should have said ‘no’ to, focus on an idea that doesn’t have legs or try to run before you can walk.
While you can never prepare for every eventuality, I wanted to share the top 10 mistakes startups make during the first 12 months and. more importantly, how you can avoid them!
1. Not actually talking to potential customers!
I can’t explain how many times I’ve spoken to entrepreneurs who swear they’ve talked to potential customers about their business, only to have it transpire that in actual fact they’ve merely spoken to a handful of people.
Why would you go through the effort, stress and workload of starting your own business if you don’t know that there are customers out there willing to pay for your product or service? It’s daft!
You need to know the structure of your business and be able to show this to investors and be confident that it encapsulates every vital piece of information they’ll be looking for.
Before you even think about speaking to investors or spending money on employees or assets, make sure you speak to people.
Go out into the city and stop people on the street to ask them about your business, hold focus groups, talk to people on social media, grasp every opportunity available so you can prove to yourself and future investors that the demand is out there.
2. Having little structure to your business
When you start a business you need to properly and thoroughly define the responsibilities of the directors, the kind of business which will be undertaken and the means by which your shareholders will exercise control over the board of directors to establish your company.
No one will pay any attention to you if you can only give them a wishy-washy idea with no substance behind it.
You need to know the structure of your business and be able to show this to investors and be confident that it encapsulates every vital piece of information they’ll be looking for, otherwise you’ll be seen as a risk and never get investment.
3. Hatching a business over a glass of wine and go 50:50 without thinking about the consequences
After a few glasses of alcohol you might think you and your pal have the best business idea ever and already be spending the millions, you’ll make in your head.
But in the cold light of day you need to ask yourself is it really a good business idea?
And, if it is, is the person you enjoy having a glass of wine with really the ideal business partner?
We all have friends we got on well with, but would never want to work alongside, so make sure you really think it through before setting up a business with someone. Especially if you’re going to go 50:50.
There’s always going to be a leader, there has to be, so really think through how your friendship dynamic will affect your business before signing anything.
4. Over-egging what the sales will be in year one
Creating a successful business takes time. Some entrepreneurs, like me, are optimistic, which is great when faced with difficult situations. But, in order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be realistic.
There’s no point in over-estimating what your sales figures will be in the first year because you’re just setting yourself up to fail, and you’ll then have to explain to stakeholders and potential investors why you under-delivered. Set yourself goals and aim high, but keep it real.
There’s time yet to reach for the stars!
5. Thinking it’s easy to bring in investment
The harsh truth of being an entrepreneur is that you aren’t guaranteed to get investment. Not everyone who starts their own business will be able to successfully court an investor and as those who have done, it will know it’s no easy or quick, task.
It takes time to get investment – you need to think about what you want, what your business needs, how you will use the investment, how you will convince investors your business is the right one for them to spend time and money on, and you need to forecast what this money will mean for your business.
Yes, you might get lucky and have a chance of meeting with someone who decides to invest in your startup.
But realistically it’s a hard slog and you might need to speak to several people before you find the right one for your business.
6. Thinking that you can do it all yourself
Look at me – I’m a super entrepreneur! I started my business all on my own and am going to develop and scale it on my own, too. Wrong! You can’t do everything yourself.
If nothing else, no one person is incredibly skilled at every single aspect of a business. You might be great at marketing and speaking to potential investors and customers, but do you know enough about forecasts and banking, and the legal checklist you need to tick along your entrepreneurial journey? My bet is you don’t.
Set yourself goals and aim high, but keep it real. There’s time yet to reach for the stars!
That’s why you need to hire smart. Look for people who fill the gaps in your skillset and build a dedicated, hard-working team who have bought into your vision.
You’ll see much more success this way than trying to be a super entrepreneur all on your own – and it’s less lonely too.
7. Getting fooled by consultants who charge a small fortune for useless stuff
A lot of first-time entrepreneurs are approached by consultants across various fields who offer their services in return for a fee and an often hefty one at that.
While it might seem like a great idea when they’re giving you their marketing spiel, make sure you take some time out before agreeing to anything.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and say yes to things you don’t need for far too much money, but don’t let yourself fall into the trap and take some quiet time on your own to review things before you decide anything.
8. Neglecting networking
You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t get yourself out there and meet people. I can’t stress enough the importance of building a relevant network. Whatever you do and wherever you go you should always be speaking to people, whether it’s online or offline – you never know who you could meet by making the first move and saying hi!
9. Spending time with a laptop rather than human beings
If you’re searching online to see if your business is viable then you’ll likely always be able to find some piece of research which says it is.
But no investor is ever going to give you money based on some research project done in the west end of nowhere back in 1999.
As I said earlier – get out there and speak to people! Have a human conversation and ask people what they think about your business.
Find out if there’s a market for your product or service and ask questions to determine what shape this product or service should take. You’ll get far more value out of a day spent speaking to people than you would a day stuck behind a computer.
10. Overthinking your business plan
Yes, your business plan is important and it is vital that you get it right. But don’t overthink it or you’ll just complicate things.
Your business plan isn’t something you write when first starting out that then remains static, you’ll have to revisit it time and time again and make some changes depending on the focus of your business.
Your market isn’t stagnant; so your business shouldn’t be either. You have to move with the times and be flexible to change, so there’s no point in spending weeks stressing over making your business plan perfect, just make sure it reflects the key points of your business as it is now and is easy to understand.
No one is perfect and no one is able to simply wake up one day with a successful business – you have to ride out the highs and lows along the way.
But, if you can avoid these 10 mistakes, or remedy them and make sure you don’t repeat them it will go a long way to helping your business!
Create Better Business Environment And Experience For Employees With AI And A Mentor
There is no controversy in the fact that AI or Artificial Intelligence creates a better user experience in all aspects. Whether it is in the medical field or real estate business, automobile manufacturing, or any other, the use and dominance of AI in all sectors are hard to ignore.
While for any type of business focusing on the customer experience aspect plays a crucial role, so does the employee benefits and experience.
Both are the backbone of a business playing a significant role in its success. If you neglect any of these aspects, it will inevitably affect the bottom line of your business directly and severely.
Now you may tend to think what really does AI have to do in employee experience. Well, Artificial intelligence or AI has become an essential thing in almost every aspect of modern lives, and it has become so in the most unnoticeable way.
You will see extensive use of AI in:
- Home appliances
- Mobile phones
- Modern cars and
- TVs and a lot of other products.
People of today have really become accustomed to this technology in a comparatively short period of time. The inclusion of AI in different things that you use today has made your life easier, and it guides you through your individual journeys.
Most of the people interact with it every day, and several businesses today use AI for several other reasons, including:
- Streamlining their work processes
- Helping the customers to self-serve
- Reducing the costs and much more.
According to a recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting, it is found that nearly 58% of customer engagement decision-makers of the world have made customer experience or CX the top priority for any organization.
This they have done by implementing a more holistic AI strategy. This strategy has helped the businesses to renovate the customer journey and enjoy significant benefits as a result. According to the same report by Forrester Consulting, more than 63% of the businesses that use AI technology for CX have witnessed a significant increase in their Net Promoter Score or NPS. This is all due to their enhanced and AI-based customer engagement strategies.
Change in the workforce
Just like CX, AI an also help you to transform the employee experience. The modern workforce has changed significantly from that of the past years. Moreover, there is a change in the workplace as well, where now remote offices, work from home, and even roaming are the norm. Add to that the ways of working have also changed dramatically.
Therefore, with such changes, all employees, including those who are not born as a digital native, have definite expectations as to how technology will work for them.
They are now also more focused on well-designed, affordable, and easy to use apps with a hope that it will make their tasks much easier. This will, in turn, enable them to be more productive.
However, even though there is a large number of consumer applications out there, several companies fail to deliver a more user-friendly business system. Well, AI is here to help them out. This will help them in different aspects, such as:
- Keeping their employees happy who in turn will bring in more satisfied customers
- Reimagining and reinventing the workplace of the future and
- Removing the pain points of the employees.
It will now help them to create a modern and more streamlined experience for their employees across all departments and for all roles throughout the organization. This will ensure that the employees put in their best efforts, always and every time. This will result in higher production, more employee satisfaction, and business profit on the whole.
The principle is much similar to the one that you employ in your business marketing strategy to integrate Instagram and other social channels to deliver your users what they exactly want and get more automatic IG likes and organic traffic to your site.
Engage a coach or a mentor
In addition to AI technology playing its role, you may also engage a coach or a mentor to help you to boost the morale of your employees. However, whether you will need a mentor, coach, or advisor will depend on your specific needs. Yes, there is a difference between an advisor, a mentor, and a business coach, with each having a different value to add.
- A business coach is the one who suggests business strategies and monitors the performance, just like a basketball or any other coach do, standing on the sideline. They also keep an eye on what your competitors may be doing or thinking of and suggest counter strategies and techniques. The business coach will not work in your business but will meet you as well as your employees on a regular basis. They are there to change, improve, and correct different aspects of your business. They are more focused on the end goal and suggest accurate and productive strategies accordingly.
- A mentor, on the other hand, plays more of a parental role. They have a wealth of experience in real-life situations and know a lot about business and the ways to grow a business. They have done all these personally. They know that running a business is a long-term and continual effort and will, therefore, be more interested in your personal development. Ideally, the role of the mentor is to transfer skills, sharing of knowledge, and contacts part from their experience. They can be contacted regularly or irregular, and the discussions may be in-depth or in pointers, long or concise.
- An adviser is actually a technical specialist, more like a sharp-shooter. With their in-depth knowledge of a particular subject, they will provide the most accurate and practical solutions. They can give such suggestions on any pressing issue. Their relationship with you is more casual as compared to a business coach or a mentor. It is like, you ask questions and they answer. They listen to a bit and talk a lot to solve a problem quickly.
Therefore, consider the circumstances and hire the best person and use the best technology to have a happy and satisfied set of employees to ensure business success.
7 Reasons Why Its Important to Have a Niche
A niche is a focused, targetable segment of the market. You are a specialist providing a product or service that focuses on the specific needs of an identified client group, which cannot or are not being addressed in such detail by the dominant providers in your industry.
But it is important to understand that there is, in fact, a difference between your identified niche and your target market.
Your target market is a specific identifiable group of people you work with, e.g. women in the city, technology start-ups, creative agency owners, small and medium businesses in a particular revenue range.
Your niche is the service you specialise in offering to your target market.
Here are 7 reasons why it is important to have a niche:
To avoid spreading yourself too thin
Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin in saying that ‘everyone’ is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus on a specific grouping of people, and particularly on what their needs and wants are.
You will unlikely to be able to serve everybody, so it is important to focus on what you do best and aim it at a specific group of people who will likely buy what you offer.
It is important to find out what is important to them, what blogs they read, their beliefs and attitudes, who the main influencers in that network are.
Having these insights means that you can develop products or services specifically aimed at this group, based on your thorough knowledge and understanding of what they are interested in.
It’s easier to identify and target potential clients and partners to work with
As the pool of people that exists for a niche is smaller than its mainstream equivalent, it will be easier to identify potential clients and partners to work with, as you can be much more targeted and laser-focused with your marketing efforts.
It’s easier to become an expert and well known in your niche
Niching means it will be much easier for others to understand ‘what you do’ and ‘for whom’, which will make it easier to position you as an expert in your field. As this group is more targeted and of a smaller size, you can rapidly become well known within this group of people.
Your profile and overall visibility will increase within this group. It is a small world after all!
More and better referrals
Since it will be easier for others to understand what you do and for whom, it, in turn, becomes much easier for them to refer more and better quality clients to you that fit the profile of your ideal client, as you have built up trust, credibility, visibility, and it is very clear as to what your specialism is.
The more unique you are, the less competition you will have
There will be less competition, as you will provide the specific services or create the specific products for the specific people you are seeking to help in a specific way that meets their needs. The BIG advantage of becoming more unique is that usually it can’t be easily replicated by your competition!
Marketing becomes much easier
Effective niche marketing should really help with your marketing, positioning and branding as you will attract the ‘right people’ much more easily and quickly. People with similar interests tend to behave and are attracted to similar things. This means that many of your clients will do all the hard work for you as they will refer you more and more because your profile, credibility and influence are readily apparent within your tribe.
More repeat business
As you are able to provide an increasingly better service or product, based on your specific client’s needs, it is likely that you will get more repeat business – people will come back for more, and as an added benefit will often start spending more with you as your relationship grows with them.