Buzzwords have a curious way of making themselves heard over every critical issue that points itself out in the digital age. Business evolution and growth has gone hand in hand with the digitization process, which brings me to the subject of startups.
Managing and marketing a startup has become trickier in this digital age. This is one fact that every aspiring “entrepreneur” must acknowledge if they wish to avoid being swallowed by the competitive market. In my years of marketing consultation, I have come across far too many promising brands and names that became just another undistinguished and uninspired name in the crowd.
However, getting your startup to be at the point where it does not fall into certain traps is an even trickier process. It sounds wonderful to be able to create a brand name from scratch that “stands out” and is “distinguishable.” But in accomplishing that, there are certain pitfalls one must avoid. At the startup stage, these pitfalls are tougher to notice, which is precisely what this article is hoping to change for you.
Shortening the Niche to Avoid Competition
I prefer to call this, potential shaving in hopes of staying safe. No, I am not denouncing a business strategy that focuses on conservation of resources, but when you enter into a particular product niche and focus on removing aspects of it to avoid competition, you are preternaturally killing your potential.
Think of it like this- you have one restaurant reservation app that lets you place orders for any particular restaurant within a particular location. Potentially, you can mark this app off at the national level and sign up restaurants as they come into the market. That gets you increased exposure and better ratings amongst the brands!
Conversely, if you choose to limit that app to just a city or an area, you can become the biggest application for that region. The only problem is that any other entrepreneur, who sees your idea, can launch the same idea with increased scope. They get better exposure and can, consequently, take your place within your locality. Yes, you probably will be doing a better job within the said niche, but their name will carry more weight, which means their brand will be doing a better job.
Ignoring the Target Market
This is the bread and butter for businesses, never mind startups, and yet this is probably one of the most frequent pitfalls that many startups do end up falling into. The reason? Primarily, it is due to poor management, but the actual reason is more catastrophic.
When you start a business with a dynamic team, you think yourself to be on top of the world. Therefore, you also get this idea in your head that you can do everything for everyone. This is a toxic mindset that is found in a lot of service-oriented startups and ends up being a downfall for them.
The next reason amounts to pure negligence. I see companies launching websites for their products but doing minimal effort to follow up on them. Following up in the sense of analyzing their traffic, seeing which parts of their site are getting the least interaction and so on.
Here are some tools that will help focus on a target market.
Google Analytics: It will tell how the targeted audience is acting on the website
Crazy Egg: This shows how your target audience is behaving on the website and what you need to change on the website to increase conversions
ClickDesk: Enables live chat and support with audience and potential customers (Disclosure the author of this post works for ClickDesk)
Get Response: Email marketing software that will give a detailed look of how your subscribers are responding to emails and offers
Social Media: Platform where the audience is present and wants to talk to you
These tools will definitely help, but the first advice entrepreneurs should follow is simply thus: Stop being negligent.
This is a tricky aspect, because as a startup you can never be confident enough about the prospect of the product you intend to launch. I will be sympathetic here because the product launch is a venture in unknown territory, however that is all the more reason why the launch has to be followed through. If you have formulated the plans, done the homework, and followed your development recipes, then you should at least press the start button and see what comes out of the oven too.
If you are a first timer, don’t expect perfection from yourself, but follow the process through and launch it. If nothing else, it builds up your credibility and it adds to your portfolio. In the world of progressive business, both of those things count a lot more than they are estimated.
There is a fine line between being decisive, sticking with your plan, and then not recognizing impeding ruin and following through with a fool’s errand. A responsible leader would distinguish between the two; this is the subject of discussion. No matter how professional or concise your business plan was, the science of execution will make you rethink a lot on the plan.
Just in case you do not recognize those warning signs, the flexible manager in you needs to understand how to deal with the crisis at hand. The one thing not to do in a crisis is to keep sticking to the plan without knowing the results, but that distinction is tricky as well, which is why you need so much dedicated purely to crisis management. There’s no shame in recognizing and acknowledging a plan gone to ruin, but there is shame on your shoulders if you refused to see or listen to any of the data around you.