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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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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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