Question: What's one common mistake startups should focus on NOT making this year?
Rushing to Scale
"All businesses want to scale at some point, but if you haven’t figured out how to acquire customers at a lower cost than their lifetime value, then your business model isn't scalable yet. Before scaling, you need to have systems in place and a clear understanding of how growth will affect your cash burn. Instead of rushing to scale, create smaller meaningful milestones for your company to achieve."
Failing to Understand the Power of Social Media
"Having a social media presence is an essential part of any effective marketing strategy, and a startup should dedicate a significant amount of time toward these efforts. It may even be worthwhile to hire a dedicated staff member to ensure that social media is utilized appropriately and to its full potential."
Saying 'Yes' Too Much
"When a venture is in its very initial stages, excitement is at a tremendous high. Every opportunity seems like a “can’t miss,” and team members are anxious to add as many customers/partners as possible. It’s vital to always remember that every organization is self-serving to some degree. Before saying “yes,” startups are best served to take a step back and understand the motives for both parties."
Ignoring Personal Care
"Entrepreneurs are notorious for horrible personal care. Most of us are workhorses who have a "whatever-it-takes" mindset. Unfortunately, this often comes at the cost of our health and self-care. This means less energy, less creativity and more resentment. Try prioritizing your self-care first, and you'll see a huge shift in your work and happiness."
Looking for the Cool Factor
"Cool, cutting-edge and fun projects are huge distractions for startups. Unfortunately, just because a new technology allows for a cool trick, there's no guarantee that anyone will pay for it. Startups need to be wary of how shiny a project might be and focus instead on opportunities that come with obvious revenue streams."
Putting off Validating Your Business Model
"The technology is not the most important part. The most important thing any startup should do is validate its business model. It's not until you start trying to make money that you'll know if the startup can succeed. Get customers early, and use their feedback to build the product."
Focusing on Vanity
"It's very easy to get caught up in vanity when running a startup. Vanity could mean press coverage that doesn't impact user acquisition or vanity metrics such as website traffic, mobile downloads or registrations.You should be solely focused on end results and meaningful metrics, rather than registrations' focus on active users, increased retention, decreased churn, revenue and sharing."
Getting Sidetracked by Competitors
"Be aware of competitors, but stay true to the priorities you set at the beginning of the year. If you start feeling the urge to mirror their moves, then you’re already playing catch-up and will lose. Stick to your game."