Startups struggle for many reasons. Some even die, or never quite attain the degree of success as early as they had hoped. They may not have anticipated obstacles and may not even know how to respond.
Yes, you need money. Unless you’re remarkably lucky and the cash flows in straight away from sales or investors, you will be in trouble. Cash flow issues will hit you hard, either delaying the roll-out of products, hiring key staff, or fitting out new offices.
You will need capital to fund software or product development, office space, marketing (yes, you’ll need that too), and yet from it most success flows. The last thing a startup needs is to trim back costs, and shed staff, just when it needs to focus its energies elsewhere.
David Roth hasn’t much patience for entrepreneurs who founded a startup and then ran out of cash: “As leaders, it’s our job to manage the time and money needed to get to the next level without running out of either one.”
2. NEGLECTING MARKETING/SALES
Some startups encounter problems because they haven’t put enough resources into marketing and sales. Sometimes they ignore them completely and put their faith in word of mouth, or if they’re a SaaS, that sales will grow organically online and sales and marketing aren’t needed.
It’s a false economy to put your faith in customers discovering you unless you make a concerted effort to grow them with a properly structured plan to promote your startup. It’s money well spent.
3. LACK OF PLANNING
It’s amazing how many startups falter because they forgot to plan. Or perhaps they did, but just never covered all the bases. Key areas like sales, development, staffing, skills shortage and funding should be part of your business plan or be flexible enough to cope if events take an unexpected turn.
Contingency planning is vital, but so is a proper business plan. If your plan is all optimism, and fails to allow for surprises – and you can bet your life they’re just around the corner – then you’re heading for big trouble. Get the details right, no matter how small.
4. FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Certain skills are crucial not only for your business to survive, but also to grow. Knowing the exact skills needed – and how to get those essential people – may determine how well your startup thrives. Delays in finding the right personnel will not only eat up valuable time but also lead to severe bottlenecks, perhaps delay the rollout of new products or services. These are delays no startup can afford.
You may also have hired the wrong people, and their deficiencies may be more apparent as a startup grows, especially if they are in the wrong roles. This happens when a startup expands and the cracks suddenly appear. However, as John Laven, CEO of Currency Cloud, wrote, finding the right people can also eat up valuable time that could be spent on other areas of the business.