The first mistake is starting without MARKET knowledge.
We have to understand that in startups or in businesses, what we are trying to do is to fulfill the needs of a customer(and not showcasing our technical skills). Just by being inside the office and not talking to enough customers or not having the understanding of the pain point or the magnitude of the problem, there is a very low probability first of all that we clearly understand the need of the customers. This Is the number one killer of startups.
Some statistics say 80% of the startups are unable to find a problem that is worth solving. This is only because founders are more inward-focused. They keep discussing and debating amongst themselves, but never step out of the office, to have a real conversation with the customers and observe the pain points they are facing.
It's obvious that if we don't understand the problem or the needs of the customers, there is a very low probability that we will be able to provide the solution. Most of the time there is no need for the product and these are startups set up for failure from the start. So market research, market understanding, customer understanding, customer awareness, and the alternate issues which are the alternative solutions is very important
The second mistake is trying to do a LOT; unable to focus on a niche
Startups are hard-pressed on resources, they don't have a big team or a lot of money in the bank. So startups must choose a segment of the market(niche) they want to work for early on. There is, of course, some trial and error which will happen to reach the correct segment positioning but the focus is the ultimate weapon in the armor of startups.
Big companies will always be there to give startups competition then how can startups beat them? The answer lies in the "ultra focus" on a customer's particular need, which isn't being fulfilled properly by the bigger competitors. The startups should aim to be the "best possible solution" for a particular need ("niche") they choose and the smaller the segment better are the chances. Startups should go in-depth with a niche rather than width.
Startups think that if they do less they will lose on the market opportunity. But it is further from the truth as more startups die trying to do a lot than trying to "achieve excellence" in a particular niche. Once you win a niche of course you will have resources to expand further. For example, Google started as a search engine, possibly the best one out there, today it has 10s of products(Chrome, Maps, Gmail, Youtube) that are leaders in their respective categories.
The third mistake is not executing enough or executing on unimportant things.
I mean that many times, founders have the plan and have chosen the segment they want to work in, but they are just not working. You have to work, as startups are made after a tremendous, tremendous amount of hard work. Founders cannot just make PPTs or excels, or just watch videos or read funding news or attend events or change investors.
So Founders(and early employees) have to do the real work, the hard work. And also when they are working, they have to make sure that they are not working on unimportant things. Unimportant things involve preparing slides for investors or just talking to the media. They have to define some metrics of success, which mostly boil down to revenue or profit or numbers of active users of the product or service.
Thus, you have to keep in mind a lot of factors if you want to move forward in your startup journey. Solving a real pressing problem for a customer, in the most optimum way is the road that should be taken. "It's all about the customers" should be the mantra.
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