Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Copl Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Coplex, and social greeting card company Open Me (acquired by Rowl). Named one of Inc.’s ‘30 Under 30’ entrepreneurs, Ilya also has columns appearing on Forbes, Inc., and LinkedIn
A great idea ensures startup success, right? Wrong.
No one enjoys hearing it, but three out of four startups will fail before they ever get to market. Yes, even the greatest ideas are still susceptible to ending up in the trash. As a startup founder, mentor, Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) member, I’ve witnessed far too many startups reach the end far too early.
As discouraging as this may sound, realistic expectations are essential to startup success. Through my years of involvement in the startup community, I’ve encountered a variety of pitfalls and mistakes including negative partnerships, overbuilt products, and poor marketing tactics.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for those entrepreneurs starting up if you avoid these seven mistakes:
1. You’re too idea-focused. This may be hard to swallow, but it takes more than a game-changing idea to find startup success. Today, ideas are a dime a dozen and you’re most certainly not the first to think of what you’re about to try to sell. It’s really the people behind the idea whom matter most. Avoid committing yourself to an idea, and instead eat, sleep, and breathe the execution of your vision.
2. You’re quick to quit. When it comes to startup success, giving up shouldn’t be an option. Starting a business requires complete commitment to ensure you make it through the inevitable roadblocks along your way. Be prepared to find your resilience to bounce back from many “no’s” in the beginning — and maybe even pivot if necessary. But continually overcoming the negativity will fuel you in the right direction.
3. You forget the power of simplicity. The importance of standing out often leads startups to lose focus and overbuild on their product. Believe it or not: A slew of features won’t set you apart from the competition. To avoid a pitfall, ensure you’re creating the minimum viable product (MVP). This ensure you’re building something with unnecessary bells and whistles from the beginning.
4. You’ll figure out marketing later. No, just because you’ve built something you feel is worthy of a doubletake, doesn’t mean anyone else feels the same way. This is why marketing and user acquisition is crucial to startup success. One thing I’ve seen at my Web marketing agency is that most startup founders invest all of their time and money in their product, but forget to develop a detailed strategy and budget when it comes time to launch their product. If you want your startup to thrive, you need to start planning out your marketing strategy from the get-go, otherwise you’ll never entice users to try it.
5. You never ask for advice. No mentors means no soundboarding. Avoiding any unwanted criticism will only drive you toward startup failure. Constructive criticism from experienced members of the startup community will keep you in line. Keep an open mind when consuming feedback. Only change your pace for the criticism that you feel is most on-par and worthy of your attention.
6. You’re thinking too big. You may want to reach everyone with your product, but that just isn’t feasible. You can still think big and go niche. Finding your niche will make marketing cheaper, more effective, and easier. Say you create a golfing product. You wouldn’t want to market this item to people in Alaska, would you? Instead, you should focus on one area and potentially a common theme within your chosen target audience. This will streamline your marketing strategy.
7. You hire the wrong people. As I said before, it’s the people behind the idea that are the driving force. If you’ve enlisted a team of less-than passionate and savvy individuals, they may be your downfall. This could even be your business partner. Set up your startup for long-term success by seeking partners and team members whom are on the page as you are, but also balance you out by presenting different traits, skills, and viewpoints. Are you right-brained? It’s time to take on some left-brained hires to encourage balance.
Startup success is depended on the avoidance of inevitable pitfalls, unwavering ambition, and never accepting “no” for an answers.
How did you avoid startup failure?
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