Although rewarding and exciting, the journey to starting a successful business is often littered with potholes. And while there’s no fool-proof way to achieve start-up success, you can learn from the mistakes of myself and others to help make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
Here are our top five mistakes start-ups make that you should try to avoid.
1. Expecting success straight away
To develop a successful business takes time, hard work and a lot of perseverance. All too often new entrepreneurs get disheartened when they don’t achieve immediate success. Even worse, a lot of businesses crumble before they even begin, as they’re unable to deal with the challenges that come their way. By planning for the worst, you can make sure to put the necessary safety measures in place so that if the business takes longer than expected to get off the ground, you’re able to cope.
2. Creating the perfect product before your start selling
Why waste time perfecting a product that nobody wants to buy? Rather, focus your energy on developing a MVP (minimum viable product) that you can use to test the market. This way, you’re able to gain valuable insights from actual consumers, which you can then use to further develop and perfect your offering down the line. Trying to be perfect at everything from the get-go can be detrimental for a start-up, and can really slow down your momentum. That’s why it’s important to always consider the cost versus benefit, helping you prioritise what is essential to the core product.
3. Trying to do all at once
As an entrepreneur, time will always be your nemesis. With an endless list of things to do and only limited hours in a day (not to mention limited funds in the bank), it’s essential that you learn to prioritise the most important tasks that are actually going to earn you money. Focus on the crucial few tasks that bring the most rewards or add the most value to your business, and then let the rest of it take a backseat.
4. Not knowing who your ideal customer is
When it comes to marketing and selling your product, it’s vital that you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is. In today’s world, it's not enough to simply try a broad approach to marketing, you need to understand your customers inside out. Take the time to do the necessary research to find out who you’re trying to reach and where you can communicate with them. Understanding your customer will also drive your marketing
strategy, playing a key role in helping you decide how best to engage with your target market, so that your efforts are well-received.
5. Not understanding social media for business
Gone are the days when your business could get by without making use of social media. But to get the most out of social media, you need to do more than simply have a presence. At the very least, you need a sound understanding of how each platform works, which ones to focus on, and how your business can use them to harness the marketing potential of the Internet. For example, running ads on social media is an easy and cost-effective way to get your business seen by you target market. Tackling something new may be intimidating and take time to learn, but if you’re not willing to adapt and embrace technological advances it can really hurt your business.
So, there you go a few mistakes to avoid when starting out. If you’d like some help in regards to what actually TO DO starting a business then grab your copy of our free Start A Business Toolkit, it outlines all the first steps you need to take to get your business off the ground. Get your toolkit here.
Many people have great ideas, but very few are able to transform these ideas into successful and profitable businesses. This is often because there are far more factors at play than simply having a great idea! It’s also the reason why it’s so important to spend time doing the necessary groundwork and researching your business ideas before investing too much time, energy and money into them. Thorough research will help keep your expectations in check, while also uncovering any potential challenges or potholes in your thinking. But how do you go about researching an idea? Here are four quick and easy things you can do to help you evaluate your big idea.
1. Do a price point check
Regardless of your product or service, identifying the right price point is vital to successfully starting up any business. By figuring out how much can you charge, you’ll quickly learn how much you need to sell to make a viable and profitable business. But figuring out your price point can be tricky. If priced too high people won’t buy it, but if you ask for too little then your profit margin slides or people may presume that your product is poor quality. To figure out your perfect price, you need to first factor in all your costs and then see how you can maximise your margins while still remaining attractive to customers. It’s also a good idea to look at what competitors are charging, as this can serve as a good guideline to what your future customers may be prepared to spend.
2. Learn about the need
The best way to learn about the needs of your target audience is to simply ask them by putting together a focus group of relevant people. The point of this exercise is to figure out whether there is in fact a demand for your business idea, how people feel about existing products currently available within your market, and how much they would be prepared to spend on your product or service. Reach out to friends and see if they would be willing to help you test out a business idea and provide some feedback. Your goal should be to put together a broad group of people, instead of simply focusing on close friends and family who are more likely to give you a biased response. By sending out a quick and straightforward email survey you can gain valuable insights from honest responses. Social media means that you now have access to a far greater network of people than you previously would have, so don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and/or advice via a status update too.
3. Understand your competition
A great way to help develop and improve your business plan is to analyse your competitors. If you can figure out what they are doing wrong, you can adjust your business to cater to your customer’s needs by providing a superior product or service. A good starting point is to read customer reviews of similar competitor businesses. For this exercise make sure you focus on the very bad reviews, as these are likely to give you the most insights and guide you on where you can improve, or what you should avoid.
4. Do a SWOT analysis
Although it may seem obvious, few things are more beneficial to researching your business idea than conducting a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis. A SWOT is an analysis of the strengths of your business idea, product or service; the weaknesses of your product or service, and potential opportunities and threats to the industry. By gaining a greater understanding of the strengths and flaws of your business idea, looking at everything from product development and cost, to external factors such as foreign exchange rates, politics and market trends, you’re sure to gain a better understanding of whether your product or service is likely to become a success in the current environment.
From innovation teams who are driving industries forward, to executive teams who are running corporations, professional teams truly are the backbone of modern work life. That’s why developing highly effective teams is essential to the way that companies operate. More and more, organisations are realising that by improving team performance they can improve business performance too, helping them achieve a significant competitive advantage.
Employees are quite limited to what they can achieve on their own. That’s why working as part of a greater team towards a common goal, will almost always raise productivity levels. But how do you create an effective team that delivers predictable results? We’ve developed a model that outlines exactly what goes into it.
The TAC Model of Highly Effective Teams
How do we transform a group of people, into a highly effective team? According to our TAC model, there are five key factors involved.
There is really only one thing that matters for teams today and that is value creation. To create value, it’s important to understand that it’s not about the quantity of work, it’s not even about the quality of work, it’s about delivering the right work. So, what is the right work? Essentially, it’s the work that creates real value for all stakeholders involved. And once you’re creating value, the next step is to look for ways so that you can create more of it!
When you know what value to create it's about how you create it and we have identified the four factors, in addition to value creation, critical for building a highly effective team. Namely:
Ever been in a team where it starts off well, but quickly spirals into a mess of conflict and unfocused work? This is likely caused by the lack of a compelling shared purpose to bring the team members together. The power of a clear team definition should not be underestimated! This should include a clear picture of the team’s goals, how the team fits into the organisation, as well as what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are within the team. If each team member understands exactly what is expected of them, it’s far easier to develop a clear roadmap for achieving the results you want.
Trust, accountability, communication and commitment. These behaviours are the perfect ingredients for successful teamwork! Developing good team behaviours not only improves relationships, but also increases collaboration and productivity. If teams can master these behaviours they’re sure to be able to surface and resolve conflict, negotiate resources and effectively make decision, all of which are vital to driving high-performance in teams.
Engagements is all about how a team relates to others. Whether it’s connecting to other team members, or engaging with external stakeholders, emotional intelligence is crucial to team performance. By connecting well with others, a team is better equipped to make real value, effectively manage and resolve conflict, and to tap in to the full wisdom of the team to ultimately unlock their full potential!
We call this the vehicle for excellence, as it allows the team to move from effective to highly effective. There are three enablers that we have found have the biggest impact and these are:
“I don’t have enough time.”
Think about that statement for a second. How often do you say it? How many times a week or even each day?
There is no bigger killer of dreams than those five words.
But have you ever noticed that the busiest and most accomplished people never seem to say them? The CEO always has time for that last minute event. Richard Branson does not have more than 24hrs in a day and still he seems to launch business after business and still have time for supporting charitable causes and more. The list goes on. But what set’s them apart?
They have a strategy. Most of us don’t.
There’s only one real reason why the big-time successful people seem to get so many of the important things done – and still have time left over. It’s not because they were born with something special or only sleep three hours a night. They simply have found a strategy that works. And they execute on it continuously.
Most people go into the week with little idea of how they see their days unfolding. If they do any planning, they write a jumbled list of tasks. Without a process for doing what matters, on a daily and hourly basis, you are not likely to succeed.
The good news is that with the right process, it’s very possible. But you need a process that gets results. So here is one you can start using today;
1. Make Time and establish a routine. 1 hr each week is all you need but you need to do it every week.
2. Connect and visualise your big picture. This helps you focus on what is really important.
3. Celebrate last week. Think of everything that went well, even the small things.
4. Write down major lessons and learn from them.
5. Analyse what didn’t happen and try to understand why, maybe there are some themes in there?
6. Clarify and commit to your biggest outcomes, what are really the most important things you need to get done.
7. Schedule everything, make sure to book the time in your diary to get it done.
How to not fail at weekly planning – a few tips:
Everyone has enough time.
There is a reason why the people who get the most done tend to continue to be able to do more and more of what matters. Many of them also tend to love the work they do. None of this is a coincidence. They traded excuses for a process that gets results. Whether you use this process or any other – please just use something. There is no excuse for showing up underprepared. If it’s in your control, then it’s time to start controlling it. Trust me, you have enough time to do the things that matter. We all do. The only question left is how are you going to spend it?
For more detail on how to use this weekly planning process download the full article here
In todays busy world we often get stuck in a linear way of thinking, which does not help either effective problem solving or innovation. To bring out our most creative thinking research shows there are four simple things we need to do:
So, there is not much stopping us from effectively accessing our best creative thinking. Time to start now.
To read the full article click here
So why do we not get the predictable results we expect? It turns out our brain is wired for linear thinking. This often works for us but in business there are also many nonlinear relationships we need to recognize to operate effectively and to make the best decisions.
So how can we limit the pitfalls?
1. Increase the awareness of linear bias
2. Focus on outcomes instead of indicators
3. Find out what type of nonlinearity you are dealing with
4. Map the nonlinearity where you can
Bart de Langhe writes about this in HBR, to read the full article click here.
HOW TO EFFECTIVELY IMPROVE TEAM PERFORMANCE
One way to achieve better business results and to give your company a competitive edge is by improving your performance through team coaching.
In today’s ever-changing business environment, organisations are slowly becoming more aware of the importance of team coaching as a key performance driving tool. Traditionally, most work done around team performance is focused on how well team members relate to each other and all too often it’s believed that team performance can be improved, or even transformed, through a once-off team building activity. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, it’s just not that easy.
To create a highly effective team that delivers sustainable results, the team needs to continuously look at themselves, reflecting on what they do well and where they can improve. A great way to achieve this ongoing assessment is through team coaching.
What Is Team Coaching?
Although there are countless definitions, for us, team coaching comes down to partnering with a team to sustainably improve performance and maximise the collective talents and resources, to accomplish and exceed the goals required by the organisation.
Effective team coaching leads to improved team performance, through dialogue, reflection, action and learning. Through this process, the team will learn to master these behaviours and techniques, with the aim of becoming a self-coaching team.
The TAC Model for Systemic Team Coaching
A team coach helps the team reflect on their learnings, while providing activities and facilitating conversations to ensure they achieve their desired goals and objectives. Our team coaching process is made up of seven important phases:
Engage The first step is to engage the team, team leader and other relevant stakeholders in the team coaching process. Here it’s important to clarify what team coaching is, how it works and what the desired outcomes are. By the end of this phase you should have a highly engaged, motivated and committed team, as well as support and buy in from the relevant stakeholders to start the process.
The purpose of this step is to get a clear picture of where the team currently is in terms of their performance, not only from their own perspective but also from the perspective of their stakeholders. Practically this stage often involves several team and individual assessments that create a good understanding of the team’s behaviours, structures, engagements and ability to create value for their stakeholders.
Here the team looks at the data from the identifying phase and starts exploring where they want to go. The data is analysed to highlight potential gaps and opportunities, allowing the team to create specific and achievable goals.
Map the way
With specific goals in place the team now starts to map out how they will achieve them. By identifying the behaviours, processes and relationships they need to build, the team creates their own map to reach their desired goals and objectives.
Now it’s time to put the plan into action. In this phase, the team will practically build the processes, relationships and behaviours that they have mapped out as their way to success.
An important part of the journey, and an ongoing process, is allowing and encouraging the team members to move towards becoming a self-coaching team. A big part of this involves reflection on the team coaching process and learnings, with a focus on how to build lasting performance and continuous growth within the team and the organisation.
The idea with our model is that the cycle then starts again, with or without a coach, depending on the team’s ability to coach themselves.
This ongoing process and continual reflection leads to high performance teams, who are well-equipped to add value to an organisation by delivering great results on an ongoing basis.