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

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.

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 February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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