7 Most Common Mistakes Startups Make And How To Prevent It

I work closely with startups that are part of my accelerator program and today I would like to highlight some of the most common early-stage mistakes I come across and how you can avoid them.

1. Building a product, then finding customers

If there was only 1 mistake to highlight, it would be this one. Remember this sentence from Seth: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”

So many entrepreneurs start by building a product and then try to find customers for the product. This is not the right order.

– My advice

  • Start by picking your market. Who do you want to work with? Who do you want to help? Who do you have a good connection with?
  • Proceed to identify a problem these people have.
  • Next you try to sell a solution to the problem these people have.
  • And finally you build a product.

Never start by building a product!

2. Talking to customers, but not asking the right questions

Founders talk with customers mostly because they know it is important to talk to customers…However, they are not asking the right questions in order to learn fast about their customers’ problems or needs. In the end, it is better than nothing, but it is definitely not enough if you want to move forward with accuracy.

– My advice:

  • Ask customers what is a goal they want to achieve (How do they see themselves in one month, or even 1 year?)
  • Ask them what is the biggest frustration or hardest challenge they have in order to reach this goal.

3. Not having a clear marketing message

Founders think they have defined what the purpose of their startup is, but I don’t think at all that their mission is well defined. Their purpose and the goal of their customers are not the same. As a matter of fact, If you want to attract customers to your website you need to really explain well what your startup does.

– My advice:

  • Write your mission statement using the customer’s words.
  • Think about the benefits for customers rather than the features of your product.

Your purpose should be directly linked with the goal of your customers.

4. Lacking a strategy to increase traffic

How do you get traffic to your website? And how do you turn these visitors into subscribers? A well defined strategy should make you get dozens of subscribers in just a few days. And that is a good poll to start!

– My advice:

  • Produce and share content online: Concretely, share something helpful such as blog articles, ‘’advertise” what you do on online forums, Facebook groups, g+ communities.
  • Offer a free gift on your landing page order to convert visitors into subscribers: the free gift can be an e-book or a free course.

5. Not building a relationship with customers

Customers will not buy from complete strangers and this is especially true when you’re an early-stage entrepreneur. Work on your authority and confidence from day 1!

– My advice:

  • Share content frequently with your subscribers: Teach something to your customers! Send them a message every 3 days to explain something related to your industry. It will build trust with your audience and they will perceive you as an expert.

6. Believing that only software can solve customer’s problem

Founders forget that content is a good way to help your customers. With a product only, your customers will be lost. At an early-stage, it is not enough!

– My advice:

  • Pair your software with helpful content.
  • Integrate content (tutorials, tips on how to reach their goal more effectively)  in the offer you are going to sell.

See content as a way to boost your value proposition. I recommend to build packages, especially at the beginning, that mix your product AND training.

7. Not working on your revenue channel early enough

Many entrepreneurs build a product and then give away the product to customers. When I ask them about their pricing model, how they’re going to make money, they often reply that they’re still not working on that stage of the business model.

– My advice:

  • Sell your product before you build it: know how much you’re going to sell it for before you build it.

Work on your revenue channel before creating your product!

by Thomas Pichon, location independent entrepreneur. Founder @ TheCollaborativeStartup.com & BoostYourLife.co. Ready to help YOU at: soHelpful.me/thomaspichon. Read more at Quora: The 7 Most Common Mistakes Startups Make


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