Several years ago, we rented an office in a co-working space. Most networking and training activities happened on-site or in partner community spaces, crowded with self-proclaimed entrepreneurs.
Working regularly from coffee shops for nearly a decade now also gave me an opportunity to meet solopreneurs and fresh business owners who dreamed big. Seeing startups fail weekly, here’s my condensed list of 15 main traits of failing entrepreneurs.
1. All Talk, No Action
Beginner entrepreneurs often project some magnificent ideas and spend 80% of their time discussing them passionately with others. They tend to forget that execution is the key – and spending no time on actual implementation won’t get you anywhere.
2. Aiming for Unreasonable Goals
A business plan expecting a thousand users for a $150 product within the first month for a commodity makes zero sense. Some entrepreneurs fail to define realistic time frames and a grow chart that is achievable.
Even with the right business plan in place, execution is contingent on tons of hard work and hustling. A startup should move extremely fast, delivering results on a daily basis and crushing smaller competitors all the time. Slacking and distracting yourself with everything else would surge your productivity and indefinitely extend your time frames.
4. Lack of Focus And Persistence
Some entrepreneurs simply give up too soon. A new business may take years to flourish and results are hardly visible within the first 6 months. Giving up halfway through is a recipe for disaster.
5. Poor Management
Organizing your own workflow and agenda with some KPIs in place is critical. You can’t deliver products in time or hit milestones if you can’t sort out your schedule. Let alone hiring people and expecting them to boost the productivity of the startup.
6. Inadequate Financial Planning
Some business ideas require a lot of initial capital. Others have a steeper curve that depends on savings or investment. Many entrepreneurs fail to allocate the required resources or switch their lifestyle to a modest (if not frugal) one that would give them enough time to scale the business. Same goes for making rash decisions and investments early on.
7. Indefinite Excuses
For some, failure is always an external factor that could not have been predicted. Successful entrepreneurs know that they are in charge of their own success. The difference lies in the right planning and owning your own mistakes. Blaming everyone else is counterproductive and entirely incorrect.
8. No Reality Check
Being familiar with the market, your industry, your ideal customer, the strengths of your product, the economical environment, governmental regulations is simply expected from an entrepreneur. Sometimes, freshers are either outright delusional, or fail to do a proper and objective market research that supports their business plan.
9. Deceiving or Dishonest
Promising unrealistic features or solutions delivered in no time may help make a sale – but this is a major disservice to your business or brand. Adequate planning, sales, negotiation skills, and management chops are mandatory. Don’t put fake reviews or testimonials on your website. Don’t trick people into buying your product if it doesn’t work for them. It will backfire tenfold.
Entrepreneurs have to make critical decision in a split second. Successful startup owners rely on data, their personal experience, and a pinch of intuition for making a strategic decision. Delaying one or postponing it will add up and cause a major breakdown for the business.
11. Providing a Poor Product or Service
Picking the wrong product or service may not be in demand. This is an automatic no-go for clients. Moreover, if your user experience or the stability of your platform are subpar, this will automatically blacklist you for people who took a leap of faith for you. Perfection isn’t required – but make sure that you’re covering all of the major points that you can.
The entrepreneur who is not a team player. The one who knows everything and can deliver anything. The Übermensch who needs no help, advice, mentorship. This ego-driven type can hardly survive out there once they lose control of their own workflow, make a series of wrong decisions, delay orders, and follow the wrong business plan regardless of the commonly available advice.
13. Inadequate Work-Life Balance
While working 80 or even 100 hours a week at first isn’t uncommon, failing to maintain a reasonable work-life balance may backfire in a few months from now. Entrepreneurs should be cautious about their health, family life, or a social environment. Even though this time and attention would be limited at first, isolating entirely for a year may detach one from the world and cause health, relationship, family problems combined with sleep deprivation, obesity, stress, and eventually a critical burnout.
14. No Differentiation
Building a new commodity solution with no differentiation isn’t in demand. I’ve seen people working on “the new Wikipedia” or “the next Facebook” incredibly often. They bring no value or a unique selling benefit to their customer audience. It’s time spent on the wrong product without any twist that would attract a certain target audience.
15. Sales And Marketing-Agnostic
Believing that a great product will sell itself is a common myth that is entirely incorrect. Without a proactive sales and marketing plan, a product will fail to reach its target audience and land its first clients. Focusing exclusively on the product or the service offering will lead to an unknown and unrecognizable product that nobody cares about – and will inevitably fail before generating any revenue.
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