you're running or investing in a startup, the 4 warning signs listed below
are for you:
1. Nobody in the company understands its customers.
Read any top 3 list by anyone reputable in the business world and that list will include “know your customers – inside and out” somewhere on that list. That's because customers are a company's most important asset.
Without customers you have no sales. And no customer is going to buy from you if you don't understand their needs, wants, fears, and concerns – and know all that data better than they do themselves!
Make sure your business is firmly rooted in the goings-on of your customer base. Otherwise, you're still in the dreaming stage of owning a successful business and failure is soon to follow suit.
2. Your thought process is stuck perpetually in first gear.
Maybe it's the religion you were raised with, or using the same customer service practices your first manager taught you back in the 90s. Perhaps jaded opinions you've picked up over the years are holding you back.
Whatever your current mental block, you need to get your head out of your butt and step back into reality. Pronto! Recognize that your “best way” isn't necessarily the generally accepted best way. Your opinions are just that – your opinions.
Most first time entrepreneurs get stuck in this mental trap of thinking they know it all, that they've been there and done that already. It prevents them from seeing what their customers, employees, investors – etcetera, need from them as a company.
3. You think you're somehow sheltered from the ebb and flow of your respective market.
The market is a fickle mistress. Take her for granted and the marriage between you and your company will end sooner rather than later. You can't fight the market in a head-on boxing match.
You need to adapt to what she throws at you: bobbing and weaving to keep yourself out of the line of fire. If you're arrogant and think she offers you some sort of protection that's not afforded to your competitors, you'll never adapt to changes in time, or innovate quickly enough when market conditions demand it.
4. You refuse to change directions when it's obvious to everyone else you should.
What if Sony decided back in the 90s that they weren't going to make a portable CD player to add to their popular Walkman lineup, instead sticking with cassette players and balking the whole “CD thing” as nothing more than a fad? Or refused to stop making their portable CD players when digital started to emerge?
They'd be sunk, no? If something's not working and you're not willing to change it, you're sunk. If changes are on the horizon and you decide to wait and see before adapting, you're sunk. Plain and simple.
Embrace change. You have to; you have no choice.
Nobody starts a business one day with the main goal being to fail as hard as they can. To screw up bigger and badder than anyone's ever done ever before in history.
Speaking of history. It leaves clues. You don't have to fail when you can follow the advice offered here and on many other reputable sources telling you how not to fail.
Owning your own business doesn't offer an immediate pathway to freedom, happiness and riches. No, it's tough, demanding, downright demoralizing when you're starting out.
Figure things out as you go. But also listen to those who've learned the hard way, so you don't have to!
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