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4 Crucial Startup Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business: How You Can Avoid

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4 Crucial Startup Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business: How You Can Avoid

Success doesn’t come easy, and it certainly doesn’t come without optimism. That is precisely why so many entrepreneurs invest their heart and soul, and of course money, into an idea or business that has a 75 percent chance to fail. This sure is an extremely discouraging figure, but don’t let it discourage you from giving your all to turn a dream project into a reality.

Although staying optimistic about your startup’s chances for success can play a vital role in deciding its fate, there are quite a few game-ending mistakes that can really strangle your business and leave you in a state of despair. Fortunately for you, we’ve identified the most common of these mistakes and gathered tips on how you can avoid them.

1. Repeating the Management Sins of the Past

Although there’s no harm in idolizing the management maestros of the past, making them an inspiration is not advised. Remember, trying to run the workplace affairs like Steve Jobs or some ruthless leader will not bring you the same level of success. On the contrary, it will probably result in a complete meltdown. The patriarchal, my-way-or-the-highway approach just will not work in the 21st century because the workplace has changed and the workforce has grown a lot more diverse.

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There’s a necessity to foster collaboration in the workplace. Don’t be a dictator, but rather be a democratic leader who lends an ear and gives value to the surrounding voices. Don’t just push your employees to perform, but also groom them to be future leaders.

Most importantly, learn to put your trust in them through the use of employee monitoring solutions like cell phone spy apps and other tools. Just remember to communicate the purpose behind the deployment of these monitoring tools with your employees and remove their concerns pertaining to privacy, otherwise you’ll find yourself facing a revolt.

2. Confusing a Good Idea for a Good Business

A lot of startups get excited too quickly about a seemingly great idea that they’ve come up with. Quite frankly, ideas are a dime a dozen. They may seem special and unique to the entrepreneur, but this perceived grandeur can easily be a fallacious assumption. Investing time and money in an idea that hasn’t been properly scrutinized and tested in the market can drain a lot of resources without bringing the expected returns, which in turn can cripple the startup financially and damage the entrepreneur and their entire team emotionally.

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Coming up with an idea that looks and sounds great is only the first step. The next step, and perhaps the most fundamental one, is execution, and that begins with market research. Failing to invest enough time in researching the potential success of that idea, misinterpreting the results, and using inaccurate data to forecast demand can wound a business critically.

Keep in mind that although a great idea may be the seed of success, only the seeds that are planted in rich soil and favorable conditions grow into full-fledged fruit-bearing trees.

3. Targeting a Tiny Niche Market to Avoid Competition

So many entrepreneurs are guilty of trying to play it safe by targeting a marginal niche to avoid competition. The returns may not be as high as they would probably want, but that is a compromise they are willing to make in order to enjoy a bit of security.

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This huge misconception has the potential to cause panic in future and eventually make the entire startup collapse. The truth is, competition simply cannot be avoided without avoiding good ideas. Every novel idea, when successful, inspires a dozen more entrepreneurs to imitate it with the hope of reaping similar rewards.

If you come up with a great idea and superb business plan, competition is inevitable. There is no point in running away from it, and choosing a small or obscure niche is certainly not going to help. Therefore, execute your idea, build your startup, aggressively chase success, and brace yourself for competition.

If you are offering great products or services to your customers, your competitors will have a tough time snatching them from you. Have faith in your idea and ability to execute it well, and stop letting the fear of competition restrict you to a tiny corner of a massive market that is waiting to be captured.

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4. Letting Perfection Get in the Way of Progress

A lot of entrepreneurs are so obsessed with attaining perfection from the get-go that they completely take their eyes off progress, which really should be the primary focus during the infancy stage. The premature quest for perfection can cause paralysis and hinder progress, which in turn can effectively choke a business to death. It’s important to realize that in order to walk, a child must first learn to crawl.

Just being average is not good enough for a lot of startups, and rightly so. But they really need to look at the internal and external conditions, and then decide if it’s the right time to step on the gas pedal and accelerate towards greatness. If they accelerate too early, they face the risk of bringing their progress to a halt due to lack of available resources or missing out on excellent opportunities.

In order to ensure a steady and healthy growth of your business, you must conduct a cost versus benefit analysis of your activities. This would help you prioritize. Wasting too much time and resources on elements that are great for business but not integral for its survival and growth is bound to prove toxic without proper planning and assessment. You need to measure your startup’s success in terms of progress, not perfection.

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Featured photo credit: JD Lasica via flickr.com

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Tayyab Babar

Tayyab is a PR/Marketing consultant. He writes about work, productivity and tech tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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