Every Thursday morning I am a part of a peer-mentoring group that gathers and shares what we’re struggling with, what we’ve accomplished, and what we’re working on in our businesses.
I’ve been attending this group for almost 2 years now…A lot of startups have come through and most are gone.
It was today that an interesting conversation came to be as to why some businesses struggle, not gain any traction, and eventually disappear. While we didn’t come to an absolute answer (no one will), we did make some general observations…
They build what they want to build, not what the customer wants to buy.
A modern classic in the startup world is, The Lean Startup. Without rehashing a book you should read, ultimately you want to do a minimal about of building to launch and then spend your time developing your business through a series of feedback loops.
Instead we’ve noticed quite a few businesses spend years working on something that hasn’t gained a single paying customer. The common answer is that “it’s not ready yet.”
You’ll never be ready, just launch and pay attention on what you should grow.
The company is ran by someone who is scattered or not driven.
If you’re a company ran by a solo founder, you need to get focused. Learn to develop areas that directly drive revenue first. There are hundreds of things to do as a business founder. Even worse there are hundreds of decisions in each of the hundreds of things to do. Getting organized and have a solid decision making process is critical.
We’ve noticed that some founders spend too much time worrying about the little decisions. Moral of the story, most decisions can be reversed. If you are too unorganized / indecisive for your company’s own good, find a co-founder who can lead the charge.
They can’t effectively communicate what they provide.
Most businesses like to lead with features, when all the customer is interested are benefits. Learn to tell customers what you can do for them and not what you’re capable of…
In the marketing world, effective copywriting skills are a must. Even with the best graphic design, the message can get lost if the words don’t convert. When you’re approaching investors, your “pitch” has to be dialed. In networking, being able to tell newly formed connections what you do can mean the difference between another casual contact or a person who can introduce you to someone meaningful within their network.
All of these skills take time to acquire, but one of the best things you can do for yourself TODAY is to surround yourself with smart people who are going through the same process that you’re experiencing. Use these people as a sounding board, support group, and a way to learn business insights you might have overlooked.