“What are some common stumbling points that web startups come across early in their development?”
Yep, that is a loaded question. In response to those that ask the various flavors of this question, my response and guidance…
One of the biggest things in starting a start-up is recognizing little will go perfectly and that you will definately make tons of mistakes (both small and large). That said, your final success, goes very much beyond your initial idea, but also directly derives from how well (and quickly) you identify and correct mistakes and make other business adjustments and corrections. On day one your plan will look perfect. In the morning of day one, start making corrections. ;-)
So, yes, there are many mistakes, and many common mistakes that are made by all types of start-ups. For this reason it is also important to have good, and experienced, advisors that you can truely trust.
In an early stage start-up, it is very easy to…
- lose focus, and try to solve all problems,
- let emotions kick logic out of the room, and
- not be prepared.
On losing focus…
You have identified a need, you think you can address that need and sell it to people to meet their needs. As you build out your product/service, you will more than likely see 100′s of other things that you could “easily” fix with just a “little” more work or side projects that you could do (a supplemental product, an offshoot company, etc.) Don’t do it! Stay focused on your path to market, with your product or service. Set your clear milestones – hit them – layer in improvements and additional things you can do and fix inline with those goals and milestones. If you don’t have the focus that first milestone you set might just keep moving away from you more and more every day — stay focused on the prize and you will get there. Focus does not contradict with the need to make critical business course corrections. As I started out by saying, you are not perfect, you will need to make corrections, you may even need to change the overall goals and purposes of the company — think it through, and if you need to make those changes, DO IT, and the set NEW MILESTONES and goals and STAY FOCUSED!
On (destructive) emotions…
Emotions are both constructive and destructive forces within all aspects of life, and can spell the success or failure of a start-up if not propperly controlled. It is more than likely that your emotions, your passion, has gotten you to the point where you want to create your new venture, your new start-up. Is is also those emotions that are going to excite your partners, your co-workers, and investors; keep them, harness them, use them to motivate, excite and innovate.
However, other emotions can lead to irreparable decisions and the early demise of your company. Panic, overreaction, paranoia (extreme), will lead you to illogical, erronesous, just BAD decisions. When the unexpected happens, when problems occur, stay calm, think logically, make corrections adjust the company focus (if you have to) — don’t let those emotions throw you off track. By the way, a good, solid board of advisors (whether they are official or unofficial) can be a great way to help you stay logical. Let you advisors speak openly and honestly and HEAR THEM and you will benefit.
Be prepared for good times and bad times; for great success, and phenomenal failure; for riches and cash flow problems. All types of curve balls may come your way; organize your plan, plan for contigencies, expect the worst, and be pleased when the best works out. Keep all lines of communication open, internally and externally, so that you can easily adapt and to also allow for others to help you be as prepared as possible and as successful as your new venture can possibly be.
Have questions, other topics, or products you would like me to speak about, email me at jhorn -=at=- tpgblog -=dot=- com.