Many people dream of starting a business and growing it to become a successful company. In this article, entrepreneur and business leader Bhawna Patkar discusses six key steps that can help you avoid common startup failures.
There’s nothing wrong with using intuition or your life experiences to help formulate an idea about the market’s needs. After all, many innovative startups were based on someone’s gut feeling about what people will buy. But don’t rely on your gut alone. A critical mistake often made by over-enthusiastic startup novices is prioritizing their feelings about a great business idea over what hard data will support.
The value of thorough market research lies in uncovering hidden risks and unknown hazards. For example, it may seem like your neighborhood needs a new convenience store, but only through market research will you learn whether any big convenience store chains have their eye on the area.
Spend the time and effort to validate your great idea. It can save you money and heartache in the future.
Without a written business plan, your idea for a new startup is little more than a dream. However, you will need it for financing, and it can guide your growth. Use your intuition, life experience, and market research to formulate a well-written plan.
Two competing financial principles should guide a startup. First, to the extent possible, stay out of debt. Second, establish a line of credit to help even out the revenue ups and downs.
Together these two principles make sense. Debt can crush a startup before it even begins to realize success. However, without credit, inconsistent revenue can make it impossible to pay employees and suppliers. So borrow as little as possible, but enough to make the business work.
This step should be evident to any entrepreneur, but it warrants mentioning because it is crucial. If your dreams for starting your own business always include you vacationing in exotic locations and taking time off any time you like, you should reevaluate your dedication to hard work.
Starting a new business is hard work. It means long hours, often with little pay and little sleep. The rewards can be outstanding, but the dues to be paid include a ton of work and sacrifice.
Your customers are one of your most valuable assets. Treat them accordingly.
Customers can be demanding and difficult to please, but they will provide the revenue you need to grow your business once you have their loyalty. Don’t insist that you make a profit on every deal. Sometimes you will need to lose a little money to keep the customer happy, but in the end, they will come back and make up for your loss.
One of the hardest lessons for some entrepreneurs to learn is how to delegate some of their responsibilities. No one will indeed be as invested in your company’s success as you are, but if you try and do it all yourself, you increase your risk of burnout, missed deadlines, and failure.
Teach your people correct principles, then get out of their way.
Bhawna Patkar is an entrepreneur and business leader with over a decade of experience launching and developing new business ventures in Silicon Valley. She is the founder, president, and CEO of Ziphawk Inc. — a technology service provider for the rideshare industry. Bhawna’s creativity, drive, and knack for problem-solving allow her to solve challenges in her professional and personal life. Her success aside, Bhawna’s mission has always remained the same: “If businesses believe that doing good can be profitable, then doing good will be sustainable.”
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