3 Startup Mistakes: What do young startups focus on besides their metrics?
Early Stage Founders have a massive amount of things to do. As they progress in their startup, their days feel shorter and shorter. I found that a lot of them put a surprising amount of effort into things in the medium and long term instead of focusing on the now. When I ask them about what metrics they are currently looking at, what is important to them, etc.. it is surprising the range of answers they gave.
This article will go through some of the most common 3 examples of early stage startup mistakes and how focusing on their metrics can bring them back to reality. Keep in mind that we are just focusing on early stage startups who have recently started building their new business.
1) Not enough DOING!
People will always recommending you to read this startup book or learn the newest marketing tactics to “hack” your way to the top.
This is not to discourage you from learning but your experience through your actions will dictate how much you will learn more than any amount of reading can. Someone else’s best practice for marketing strategy, channel distribution, and business negotiation may not be yours. Since every business is so unique, you will never know what your best practice is until you go out there and try it out for your business.
“Ambition is predicated on your actions.” — Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, Host of AskGaryVee Show
ACTION ITEM: Set aside one or two day as week to reading/researching/ etc.. and commit the other days to actually putting it into practice. (I can tell you from experience that if you are reading a startup book, you don’t have to finish the whole book to start practicing.)
I personally love learning about social media marketing, as it is an extension to my online marketing background. I usually take Saturdays to learn new things. To reach our target audience of startup companies, I actively try out every social channel to see where our audience is most engaged and active. I execute educational videos, live stream, and blogs on Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Medium. On a daily basis, I track to see which channels perform the best in order to decide where to invest our future marketing investment.
2) Focusing too far ahead
Founders are getting pulled in every direction these days due to many sources of influence whether that be from buzz going on at startup events, feedback from friends and family, or referrals to potential partnerships or “you know who would be great for you to talk to?” I bet you can think of some examples!
It is unwise to focus your energy on partnerships for medium-long term instead of focusing on upcoming pilot project or trial. Example: Don’t wait to hire the perfect person to help run your pilot project or beta test instead of dong it yourself. You can learn so much more from that experience.
I admit that for myself, I fell into spirals at times but one thing that kept me focused on which partnerships to pursue now, which recommendation to follow and where to allocate those precious 24 hours, were my Lean Analytics Metrics! (See diagram below.)
ACTION ITEM: Mark future tasks for 1–3 months from now. If you can quickly identify tasks or budding partnerships that should be implemented in a month then set that in your calendar to start 1 month from now. You don’t have to do everything at once and become overwhelmed because there are too many things in your plate. When these things start to pile on, a plate of opportunities can easily start to look like a plate of distractions. A practical thing to do is to pace yourself. If there is a new resource or future channel to explore, then put it off until you have completed what is important now such as making your first pilot project a huge success!
3) Avoiding Customers
“Sales cures all” — Mark Cuban, ABC’s Shark Tank, Investor, Entrepreneur
How can startups get that cure if their customers are not the forefront of their attention?
Avoiding customers can be classified into two ways:
a) Customer Discovery: Some early stage entrepreneurs go through cycles of procrastination before doing any kind of market research or product market fit surveying. Many first time startups will explain how they feel their product is not ready to show or they fear competition.
ACTION ITEM: To learn how to survey for product market fit in 24 hours, refer to this article: https://medium.com/@VenturX_team/how-to-survey-for-product-market-fit-in-24-hours-2f79571ea5d4
(It will guide you through all the basic steps with concrete examples.) If you want a template of survey questions, send me an email and I can send you one!
b) Ignore incoming customers to get product feedback and iterate
As human beings, we do things we want to do and not the things we are supposed to do. If it easier to for some to work creating a nice website rather than get feedback from their customers, you bet they will mainly put their efforts into option #1.
ACTION ITEM: Schedule appointments with your customers to get feedback on a regularly basis. Try to schedule them in advance. Even if you have new distractions such as startup events, hiring new team members, etc..you will ensure that your regular meetings will make sure that you are always in touch with your customers and you are not avoiding them.
To get startup feedback for VenturX’s product releases, I schedule Skype calls every 3 weeks with startup friends to show them the revamp and get their feedback. I also contact 1 startup about his VenturX Metrics every single afternoon between 2pm-4pm. He said he preferred SMS notifications. To show love, I send those individual daily reports from my phone.
What Metrics Should I Concentrate on?
That is a great question. One that I believe was well written in the book
“ Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster” — Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
They explain that startups should focus on mainly one metric at a time and it would be dependent on your type of startup and what stage you are in. Here is a comprehensive chart from the book:
Did you find out what stage you are in?
Can you see which metric is the most important?
Now you can reverse-engineer the formula to get rid of those 3 startup mistakes for early stage entrepreneurs!
Keep in mind that even though this article was mainly from our observations with early stage, first time entrepreneurs, there may still be more information to come! There may also be more than 1 metric that will yield a red flag such as low product market fit and finances.
As someone who studies startups, I wanted to share with you my learnings about this fascinating industry. I hope that with this simple guide, your early stages in your company will go much smoother! If you have any questions about your metrics, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s take a look together!