For many, it’s hard to make the switch from that top-down order-giving culture, and it’s hard to find the time to recruit and coach the new team members you need to scale the business to success. Many new businesses fail at this stage because they don’t build the required team culture to keep teams engaged and committed, and founders burn out trying to do too much.
Every smart entrepreneur needs to realize that trying to treat every customer the same, with limited resources, may mean that you are treating them all poorly, or at least limiting your own growth.
Entrepreneurs tend to continually narrow the scope of potential competitors, and often claim to have no direct competitors. This raises a big red flag with potential investors, who conclude that no competitors means no market, or you haven’t looked, and the new startup is likely not investable.
I believe that most entrepreneurs today, at least in the technology domains I frequent, still work in the business (“Technician’s Perspective”), rather than on the business (“Entrepreneurs Perspective”).
I’m always surprised by how many entrepreneurs are looking for funding without outside advisors. An experienced Board can give them credibility, as well as advice on the many pitfalls of starting a new company. Especially if you are a first-time business owner, the payback for this initiative is well worth the effort and cost.
For the startups and entrepreneurs who manage to attract investment and survive term sheet negotiation, there is still one more hurdle before the money is in the bank. This is the mysterious and dreaded due diligence process, which can kill the whole deal. In reality, it is nothing more than a final integrity check on all aspects of the business and the team.
You need to make sure that everyone on the team, from the clerical assistant to the chief financial officer, knows your vision and product, and doesn’t hesitate to actively engage and be an effective proponent with anyone who might be of value to the business. Here’s why…
Most entrepreneurs are so overwhelmed by the day-to-day challenges of their business that they rarely take the time to work on longer-term strategy (they work in the business versus on the business). As a result, strategy decisions are made in the same ad-hoc crises style as operational decisions, and the business suffers. Gut reactions are rarely the optimal solution to any problem.
Every entrepreneur and business executive knows that continuous innovation is required to survive, but most struggle with this more than any other challenge they face. They know they need to act proactively but still are often blindsided by a new competitor coming out of the blue with a future they never imagined. Innovation driven by the next crisis is not leadership.
When entrepreneurs introduce new products to the market, their passion and conviction often leads them to assume that every potential customer will see the immediate need and value, and will quickly adopt the solution. They are devastated when their business growth never starts or stalls, and they have no idea how to get it moving again.