Like I’ve mentioned about a million times before, starting a business isn’t easy. Running a business isn’t easy. And making a business a success is really, really hard. But there are certain obstacles that you will discover when you are starting out that can be overcome. Not every obstacle is designed to trip you up and stop your start-up in its tracks. Some just need a little bit of thought to navigate. Remember when I wrote about the emotional rollercoaster of starting a business? Well, these are the obstacles that make the roller coaster bumpy.
LACK OF FUNDS
Despite what the snakeskin oil salesmen types would like to have you believe, you can’t build your start-up to a six-figure income out of nothing. Every business needs some level of funds, even if it’s just to buy a domain name and some hosting and the internet connection to build a website yourself. Nothing comes for free and you shouldn’t expect it to either. If you can’t bootstrap your start-up then there are a range of Small Business Loans on the market to help you out. Traditional banks may not always be the right option for your start-up but companies like Boost Capital understand the importance of speedy access to finance for a growing business.
Always remember though, whatever you borrow has to be paid back. And if that doesn’t motivate you to work even harder then nothing will!
LACK OF CLARITY
What does your business do? Like, give it to me in one sentence? Can you? I’m amazed at the number of business owners that tell me what they do and leave me puzzled. A heart-centered, soulful, passionate whatever doesn’t actually tell me what you do. Neither does a vague self-given job title. Yes, I get that you’re the CEO of your business but when there’s only you in the company and you aren’t a Fortune 500 listed firm, then I’m going to struggle with defining what it is you do. So instead of telling me you’re the CEO or Managing Director, tell me what problem it is you solve. For example, me, in my role of being the boss at Socially Famous, doesn’t really tell you very much. So, when asked what it is I do I reply with, “I make people and things famous online”. Neat hey.
Likewise, when asked what it is your business does, don’t reply with something vague like you help heart-centered, abundance living solopreneurs. You may get what that is, most people don’t. Think of the problem you solve and how you can help someone. That is what it is you do. Be clear about it. Being clear about what it is your business does will help you stay on track and more importantly target the right audience for you. When your what it is you do is a bit wishy-washy then your audience targeting will be too.
LACK OF PLANNING
Do you have a plan? A real plan and not just a brief idea scribbled on the back of a fag packet. Do you know what marketing activities you will be doing each week? Do you know what you want those activities to achieve? Have you set yourself some goals? Remember, a goal without a plan is just a dream. And if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail. I know that’s all very cliché laden but it is true.
LACK OF PRODUCTS
You may well have reinvented the wheel, but are you 100% certain it will sell? As in sell enough to keep the roof over your head? Having one amazing product could well be the making of you and your start-up, but, even Dyson had to expand his product range to keep up with the market demands.
I’ve seen this so many times. Small businesses launching without a good enough product range to keep them going. Then when the sales start to dry up they go into panic mode to start bringing in new products. Sometimes this will work and other times it will make the situation worse because you are making business decisions in a panic. There’s only so many soaps on a rope folks are going to buy before they want the shower gel instead.
LACK OF AUDIENCE
Do people actually want to buy what you’re selling? Is there an audience for your service that is currently having sleepless nights because there’s nobody out there to help them? Is your audience or target audience big enough to keep you supplied with sales? Being niche is great and having a defined audience will help you grow your start-up. But if that audience consists of just 4 people and one of those is your Mum then chances are the other 3 aren’t going to keep the roof over your head. Unless they are spending mega bucks with you and you have zero competition. In which case the good times will be great but soon enough you’ll have competition and your market share could be cut.
I know it’s all fun and exciting to be that breakthrough start-up with all the groovy ideas and crazy products that send you viral. But that’s the exception and not the rule. So rather than thinking you need to reinvent the wheel with your product or service, often it’s better for a start-up to just do what others do, only better. Look at ways you can serve the same audience that others do but do it better. Do it your way.
Being a start-up can drive you crazy and I’m still not overly sure where the point of being a start-up crosses to being a fully fledged business. But during the crazy period, the journey will throw up every single obstacle possible and then some more. Be ready for the crazy ride and keep on going. History is full of stories of those that gave up right before their big break. And others that kept on going against the odds and made it big. Edison just found lots of ways the lightbulb didn’t work. JK Rowling probably now gives publishers nightmares after so many turned doing some flaky book about a boy wizard. But she never gave up. Be like them. Good luck!
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