You probably don’t want to be reminded – especially at this stage of your entrepreneurial endeavour, about the possibility of failure or early stagnation. As grim as the subject is; hearing the reasons why most small/startup businesses fail to grow, gives you, the aspiration for the best head start.
According to statistics published in 2017, the Small Business Administration (SBA), discovered that around one-fifth of startups fail within the first year. Interestingly enough, after investigating further, they found that there were a few common denominators/areas within the business’s which were being managed poorly, or neglected by the new business owners. These were likely the cause of the business’ deterioration.
Here are just some of the common ‘mistakes’ they uncovered which are the possible reason why so many startups fail to grow and in some cases, collapse.
1. Building a strong team is not prioritised
Many new business owners and amateur entrepreneurs fail to see the importance of building a strong team, especially during the start-up phase. They often think they can do it all on their own – and perhaps are incentivised by the cost-effectiveness.
Building a strong, competent team is crucial to the success of a business and, in fact, is most important during a business’s infancy years. This is because new ventures face many challenges; for example, limited capital and resources, as well as the challenge of breaking into the market. Without a strong team who have the skills and experience in building businesses from the ground up, the venture may be at risk of early stagnation.
2. Poor management and leadership
Poor management and leadership are one of the main reasons why startup businesses fail to grow. Most new business owners take on the role of a manager as they perform the management function in the beginning, however, they often struggle with the leadership aspect. With that being said, it is possible to get by on a good management approach even if the leadership aspect is not refined; however, if both areas are weak it is a major cause for concern. Some entrepreneurs are great visionaries and have exceptional business smarts, but are not strong managers or leaders. For the sake of the business, it’s important that they refine their skills in these areas. Luckily one can be taught how to be a great manager and an inspirational leader!
3. Budget allocations are managed insensibly
Startups often have limited capital and monetary resources which is why it’s imperative that money is handled sensibly. Certain important functions which will propel the business forward should be prioritised in the budget. These include areas such as marketing and staff for example – but this depends on the nature of the business. Many unsuccessful startups have allocated capital to the wrong areas and spent money on less important business functions. It’s critical that you identify your businesses fundamental needs and allocate money to these first.
4. Lack of business knowledge
This is an all too common ‘mistake’ in the startup sphere. While anyone can be an entrepreneur – it takes some business smarts to be a successful one. It’s, of course, impossible to know everything well – but that’s why hiring people who have strengths in certain areas where you may have weaknesses is incredibly important. However, if this is not possible, it’s imperative that you learn fundamental business skills so that you are able to carry the business forward. For example; marketing is one of the most important functions, but if you’re not aware of this, and are unable to execute successful marketing techniques due to your limited marketing knowledge, the business will surely suffer. Invest in yourself – in your skills and your business knowledge, so that you are able to give your business the best shot at success.
5. Poor customer relations
Your customer is your bread and butter. If you or your team fail to identify the importance of treating your customer well; communicating with them effectively, and listening to their needs and wants, you will have a hard time building customer loyalty and your sales will likely decline drastically. As a startup breaking into the market, you need to find ways to get the customer on your side. You need to give them a reason to leave what they know, and instead use your services or buy your product. Too many startups are caught up in the operations and keeping the business afloat, that they often forget the reason for what they are doing. The reason is: solving a problem – for who? The customer.