Perfection Rejection

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

You tweak and prod and edit and iterate.

You feel your product or service has to be a “Goldilocks just right” before you launch.

As a new entrepreneur you probably have a streak of perfectionism. The vision is so crystal clear in your mind that anything that strays from that image is not going to pass your test.

There are two watchouts with this:

If you are a first time entrepreneur, beware of choosing a product, service or business model that takes a while to launch. Your may exhaust your runway before you make any traction.

If you take too long to launch, the ship may have already sailed. Your customers may have moved on. The platforms may have changed. The systems may be outdated.

Seasoned entrepreneurs recommend an approach in which you identify quick wins and test small incremental mock ups and products while working closely with your customers.

How long did it take to sell your first product? Let us know in the comments below.








Entrepreneur’s Death Defying Acts

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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Death-defying feats of bravery, object manipulation, dangerous beasts and stunt-oriented artistry – these are sights you traditionally would see at the circus.

Unless, of course you are an entrepreneur. As a new founder, you face these feats daily, often diving headfirst. Some of the stunts that you may find yourself getting into:

1 – Jumping through fire for a client – As deadlines and demands come your way, you will go through dangerous hoops for those initial first customers and clients. However, this initial push will help build your business for the long term.

2 – Walking a tightrope for a work-life balance – This is an eternal struggle with entrepreneurs as there is a fine line with your personal life. Remember that this balance is essential for long term success.

3 – Swallowing your pride when compromising with an investor – Sometime you need funding, but the negotiation dance can be brutal. Take a deep breath and swallow your pride and make sure you do what is best for the future for your company.

4 – Juggling priorities – You’ll have cofounders, projects, leads, employees, funders, among other things things that you’ll have to keep in the air. Delegate as much as you can so you can focus.

5 – Passing on the legacy – As you swing on the trapeze and you grow your business, plan for passing on your assets and legacy with a long-withstanding company.

What are some of the circus stunts you have been involved in as a founder? Let us know in the comments below.








Select and Elect

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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Choices are tough. Americans have a major choice to make on November 8th. New entrepreneurs also have important selections to make.

Three of the most important decisions a new founder must make include the following:

  1. Product vs. Service – There are advantages to either strategy. Products are generally more scalable but require upfront investments. Services, on the other hand, are harder to scale, but can be executed with lower upfront investments. Often entrepreneurs start by providing a service, and when they see the potential, they shift to a product opportunity.
  2. Build vs. Buy – A new entrepreneur may feel inclined to build everything from scratch instead of buying or subscribing to an existing solution. The former often takes longer and requires more spend. Weigh your individual solution and determine what makes sense to pursue.
  3. Permanent Hire vs. Contract – New hires are sometimes less expensive hourly, but require training and alignment. Contract hires are expensive but they usually have the expertise required. Starting with the contract route may provide the early flexibility new entrepreneurs need, after which permanent hires may prove more sustainable.

What are other important elections and selections you have had to make in your startup? Happy voting!








Vertigo in the Funding Vortex

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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Squeeze that last cent!

There are two types of entrepreneurs in the world. There are those who take risks very cautiously and work as long as possible to grow their startup without borrowing money. These are the folks who use only their allocated savings, never tapping into their credit cards. They have a safety net in case something happens – sometimes in the form of a spouse or a side job.

The other type of entrepreneur goes all in. This founder believes with great risk comes great reward. You’ll often see these people liquidating their life savings, agreeing to high interest rate loans, and borrowing from friends and family. They may seek investors very early in the startup game, optimistic about the returns.

There is no right or wrong type of entrepreneur. However, the second type of founder usually faces much more stress, and will have to make decisions under more duress. Remember to meet the risk threshold that you are comfortable with when making your funding decisions as you grow your business.








Leads: Bad to Worse

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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As you begin your hunt for customers, you will come across many who are not interested in your offerings. Perhaps the price is wrong or perhaps you are not solving a problem they have.

However on the spectrum of NOs, you should be happy if you get a straight out NO! This is the best case scenario as it saves time and wasted effort.

Continuing on the range of bad leads, next come the potential customers who just don’t respond. You may send emails, make phone calls, get referrals, ping them in other ways, but you’ll get no response. You may think of giving up, or you may choose to be persistent, but either way, these bad leads are frustrating.

Finally, the worst are the leads who give you a false sense of hope. These are the folks who casually say “maybe” or “let’s discuss”, but they have absolutely no interest in ever buying your product or service. Be wary of these potential customers as they will spend your time and you’ll get nothing in return.

Who are the worst leads you’ve dealt with? Let us know in the comments below.








Fishing for a Yes

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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“No way. Sorry. Nope. Not interested. Maybe later. I don’t think so.” As a new entrepreneur, you have to get used to the “No”!

As you are starting your new business, you are seeking validation for the problem you are solving and the solution you are pitching. The majority of the responses from potential customers will be NO! Don’t get disheartened. It’s a big sea and as you continue to search, keep on the look out for your YES!

After you’ve secured customers, you may be seeking investors to grow your business. Again, a chorus of NOs, may come after each conversation. Keep persisting and adapting your pitch for a YES.

As your company expands you may want to launch a new product. However, you may have stakeholders or a Board that will give you NOs! Again, if you are confident, do not be discouraged and keep fishing. Eventually you will be granted with the YES you are looking for.

Let us know how many times you got a NO, before you got a YES, in the comments below.








Step by Step

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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As a new entrepreneur starts a business, he/she may wear many hats. The new founder may serve as the strategist, product developer, business developer, and the CFO, just to name a few of the roles. In fact, the new entrepreneur may vehemently deny needing anyone else to help with the business. It may seem like more effort to get others onboard, rather than to do the work alone. This also applies if there is a cofounder. The founders may feel like they are all they need to succeed.

Eventually, the entrepreneur will realize a team to help with the business is not only useful but essential. This is the next step in the venture.

Finally, when the entrepreneur is ready to truly get to the final step, he/she realizes that to scale, ancillary as well as critical tasks must be delegated to the “army” of help. This army is the crux of the business. So, take it one step at a time, and soon you’ll be at the top.

What step are you on? Let us know in the comments below.








Bit by the Startup Bug

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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Doctor, the last dose of the corporate drug didn’t work!

It’s a plague, highly contagious and extremely persistent. If you’ve been bitten by the startup bug, take precaution. Symptoms may include an entrepreneurial “itch” that may cause “rash” decisions. This is a lifelong ailment. Symptoms may be alleviated by finding a cofounder and launching a business. However, the itch never fully recedes.

Often, this ailment causes delusions of grandeur. In rare cases though, the long-term effects of the bite may cause extreme happiness, fulfillment and prosperity. This is only if you carefully follow the medical treatment prescribed by other entrepreneurs and mentors.








Improving your BS Radar

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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I smell a rat. The employee is up to no good. The competition is about to launch an attack. The new potential partner is going to undercut us. Our investor will back out.

These are all words of an entrepreneur who has been there and done that. He or she has been burned, is jaded and knows what to expect in the cruel world of a startup. He or she is prepared for the worst, until proven otherwise.

A new entrepreneur on the other hand, expects the best from everyone, until proven otherwise. That contact who promised you a new lead? Of course you believe him! The partner who wants to help you conquer the industry. Why wouldn’t she? The cofounder who says they will be with you until the end? Of course he will!

It is only after the new entrepreneur gets a small dose of reality does it sink in that nothing comes at face value as a founder. You must be more aware of the scenario and the context all the time. You have to learn when to call BS!

How your BS radar? Let us know in the comments below.








How Long Will You Be With Your Idea?

This post originally appeared on #entrepreneurfail.

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Are you in love with your idea? Is it going to be with you forever? Is it permanent? Are you ready to stay committed to your idea?

When an entrepreneur first has an idea, it is love at first thought. The entrepreneur thinks it will be the idea to stay with him/her forever. What the entrepreneur doesn’t realize, is that most founders pivot quickly after that first idea.

A pivot is a change in focus, business model, customer, channel, product, technology or strategy. Pivots can help propel an idea and a business. However, be cautious. It has become fashionable to pivot often, sometimes without reason. Pivoting without strategy is just a waste of time and effort.

How do you know when it is time to pivot? Do your due diligence on your current model and idea. Hypothesize and test. If there is clearly no market fit for your current idea and you have a definite direction to pivot, go for it.

And hold off on that tattoo…

How many times did you pivot? Let us know in the comments below.