The entrepreneurial dream is a lucrative one—for the businesses that cater to wantrepreneurs, that is. The fact is, despite the popularity of startup publications, very few people actually ever follow through on side gigs, let alone found their own startup. As a result, people who do take the plunge often find themselves in the dark.
While there are many great resources for founders these days, there are still plenty of undiscussed areas concerning startup life. Here are some of the less-explored issues related to running your own business.
1.) Your Payment Systems Matter
Your choice of payment processing solutions can mean life or death for your business. The bank and other financial institutions you engage to facilitate your payments can determine whether a customer closes a deal or completes a purchase—or goes with another hungry entrepreneur who can.
While finance solutions are often the last thing any startup founder wants to think about, the fact is that these play a central role in the customer experience, regardless of the product you offer or the market you’re participating in. By choosing your solutions and partner banks carefully, you maximize the odds that customers will buy from you
2.) Networking Is Important
Wide networks increase the odds your startup can find the right talents, the best suppliers, and the most optimal partnerships and collaborations. While a wide network will not guarantee any of those things, having enough quality connections can make a significant difference.
3.) You Probably Need Mentorship
Having a mentor that has walked the entrepreneurial road before can be of immense value for startup founders. Being able to draw from someone else’s experience can help you avoid their mistakes and emulate some of their successes, improving the odds of achieving sustained success.
4.) Most Early Success Is Luck
If you have some early success, don’t believe your hype just yet. The trick, as many startup founders discovered, is harnessing and maintaining early successes sustainably. In many industries, there are customers who are interested in testing out new things on the market. In most cases, they only represent a fraction of your potential market.
While they’re important, most startups live and die by repeat business. This means that not only do you have to consider how to earn those first customers, but you also have to work hard to ensure that these people purchase from you or do business with you again, hopefully spreading the word about your startup in the process.
5.) Partnerships Can Be Transformative
Unfortunately, they can be transformative either way. The right partners can compensate for your shortcomings and help the business achieve things that it otherwise could not. The wrong ones might bring out the worst in you, holding your business back. If you do choose to take on partners, it’s important to be realistic about what they can bring to the table.
6.) If You’re a Small Business, Customers Will Want You to Do More
As a general rule, customers often expect white-glove service out of smaller businesses. Unless you’ve specifically set up your operations to deliver that, it might be a bad idea to do this consistently. Not only will you get burnt out sooner but you may be creating expectations you cannot always deliver.
7.) Pursue Growth with Caution
While growth is often necessary, once a startup becomes stable, the pursuit of growth is ultimately optional. Startups and founders can have all kinds of goals that may not necessarily require constant growth to achieve. While being big usually allows you to do more, achieving growth often comes with risks that you may not be ready to take on at this time. If you must grow, do it purposefully.
8.) No One Cares about Your Problems
Only a very small percentage of the population are entrepreneurs, which means very few people will relate to your struggles. Other entrepreneurs are more likely to be worried about their own problems. While you may have your cheerleaders and support base, most of them will not understand what you are going through. For most of your journey, you will be alone, and you have to learn to be OK with that.
9.) Ideas Are Not Worth Anything
If you have an idea, chances are someone has already executed it, possibly in a better manner. Most of the time, the important thing is not the ideas but the gumption and tenacity it takes to bring them to fruition.
10.) Nothing Is Guaranteed
Startup success is almost always temporary. Whether it’s an innovation, a relationship, or financial success, whatever you earn, you’d have to struggle to grow. While things can sometimes get easier with time, running a startup will almost always mean being on the lookout for the next pitfall or opportunity.
The thrill and satisfaction of founding a successful startup have few parallels. However, a lot of first-time entrepreneurs have a distorted idea of what is actually involved in building a successful startup. They may neglect basic concepts like managing customer journeys, identifying their business persona, or even choosing payment processing solutions that make sense. They may also have an unrealistic understanding of the risks all startup founders have to take.
By learning about the rarely discussed pitfalls of being a startup founder, you can avoid the mistakes others have made, ensuring your budding enterprise has a better shot at long-term success. While success will not be guaranteed, your odds should be much improved.