As the old saying goes, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Here are six potentially venture-ending events to look out for on your entrepreneurial journey.
1. No more enthusiasm
This could be the most surprising of all potential roadblocks. Perhaps the business you’ve built is based on a winning concept, and your product is popular with customers. Thus, it may startle you to realize that you’ve suddenly run out of steam because you lack passion for your venture. You may even find yourself resenting it. How can you avoid this?
In the early days, take the time to consider the long-term implications of having your own business. Can you keep up with the daily running of an enterprise? Are you prepared for the lifestyle changes it demands? For long-term success, it’s critical that you stay engaged with your business so that you don’t crash and burn.
2. A rift in the “family”
A startup is usually the brainchild of two or more people, with family members and friends sometimes getting drafted into the team. It may feel like wine and roses in the beginning, but the history of entrepreneurship abounds with examples of founders who ended up at each other’s throats. More often than not, such conflict spells the end of a business venture.
An equally destructive oversight is hiring without proper vetting. In the excitement of the early days, you were probably thrilled to work alongside your best friend or maybe even your parents. However, nepotism has no place in the startup ecosystem: You need people who are qualified for the job if you’re to make your mark and build a thriving business.
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So, make sure you and your co-founder(s) are really on the same page. Don’t let things fester—timely and open discussions can usually solve most problems. In addition, surround yourself with people who have the skills your startup needs, not people you happen to like having around. Be prepared to make tough decisions when it comes to your team.
3. The scourge of imitators
It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if you’re not on your guard, it can kill your business. In today’s world, imitations are rife. Your products and branding can be easily copied. If your imitators’ offerings are not up to snuff or yours don’t deliver on promises the copycat made, expect to have problems. You could find yourself dealing with unhappy customers or worse—legal challenges.
How can you prepare for this? Make sure you have rock-solid confidence in your business. Use client testimonials to add weight to your authority. If faced with allegations of wrongdoing as a result of mistaken identity, don’t be tempted to go on the defensive. Instead, once you’ve determined the reason for the confusion, learn from it. Maybe the copycat has a feature you don’t have that would improve your product. Is there a way to incorporate it? Use feedback from dissatisfied customers to learn if there is something you could be doing better to stand out as the genuine article.
4. The one-hit wonder curse
It makes sense to capitalize on something that works well for you. However, if your business relies too heavily on a single platform or strategy, you leave yourself vulnerable. If that channel fails, you’ll find yourself in a dangerous position unless you have a backup plan.
The solution? Diversify. It just makes sense to have another channel to fall back on if your main one suddenly becomes unreliable.
5. Expectations of a never-ending high
If you launched your business on a high note, be prepared for the slump that will inevitably follow. In this “here today, gone tomorrow” viral world, a descent is almost guaranteed at some point.
The solution? Keep your brand and product relevant. For long-term success, businesses need to be able to use the popularity of one product to enhance the credibility of and transition to future products.
6. Founder bias in marketing
As a startup founder, you know your business inside out, so you’re the best person to market it, right?
The truth is that potential customers won’t see you as unbiased if you’re marketing your product yourself. The best way to establish trust would be by providing testimonials. These must come from people with nothing to gain as they offer fair and honest opinions about your product or service.
If you prepare with these potential stumbling blocks in mind, you can launch your startup confident that you’ll be able to handle the unexpected.