Most people using the Blockity website builder are entrepreneurs of some sort and we like to provide them with support for getting their new website and business to grow. Usually that advice has a “do this” flavor to it. This time around we’re telling you “DON’T do this”.
Here we present a light hearted way of spotlighting several of the all-too-common business mistakes committed by startups, and usually in their first year. How many of these situations do you recognize from your experience working with other companies? Are any of them true with your own business?
Chase the Fool’s Milestones
“We have over 100 employees…”, “We’re opening up a second office in…”, “We just acquired a fleet of company vehicles…” – you’ve heard these boasts before like they are somehow success metrics. What about being profitable?!? That is what matters in the startup world, not these other ego-centric goals.
“OPM” or using “Other People’s Money” was made popular by celebrity business personalities 15 years ago, and the idea was to free up your own cash and reduce your personal risk by borrowing startup funds from VC’s and others. Except that in reality, people that give you money want stuff in return: equity in your business, say in how it’s run, and ROI in the short term. When you don’t deliver, prepare yourself to spend countless hours “briefing the board” and feeling like an employee – not an entrepreneur.
Make sure there’s an Executive for Everything
When a new business starts to make any headway, the temptation is to start building departments and heading them up with C-Suite managers. If a company has 10 employees and 6 of them are the CEO, COO, CTO, CIO, CMO, and CAO, we can be sure a lot of money is being wasted just to have an impressive “About Us” page on the website.
“Everyone works” should be the motto in the early stages of any startup. More bootstrapping means less need to commit the 2nd offense above – borrowing money.
Max out what you can do with your own two hands before you think about bringing in help. And before you do take the step of hiring employees, check if freelancers or contract workers might be a more appropriate choice. Employees gobble up profits by driving overhead costs and come with their own special set of challenges.
The Business Plan that includes projections is an exercise in self-deception. You’re a startup so you have no idea what the first year is going to look like, let alone the second. Planning too much forces opportunities to go unnoticed because they don’t fit with your pre-determined timeline.
Over-planning in business usually means over-buying as well. Major purchases are made because of an anticipated need, rather than an actual one. Only buy what you absolutely need in that first year and you can upgrade later. Think about your Blockity website builder for example – you can start with the Basic Plan and easily upgrade to Premium once you really need it and downgrade whenever you want.
Prioritize New Customers over Old Ones
Too many new businesses start focusing on being a sales machine instead of a service machine. Current customers are sitting on a wealth of information that you need to better hone your presentation and product. That’s where you should show the love; don’t just put everything towards wooing new customers.
Your current customers can tell you what stinks about your proposals, what features they love and hate in your projects, and more. And of course it’s more cost-effective to resell to your fan base than to try and win new fans all the time.
So, dear website creator, will you pledge to avoid these pitfalls as you build your empire? Feel free to add to our list with some of your favorites – we’d love to hear from you!