By Ruben Vardanyan, founder and CEO of Joomag
You'll make dozens (maybe even hundreds) of mistakes when running a startup, especially if it's your first one. Managing your own business may very well be one of the hardest jobs on the planet, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. You'll lose money, earn money, learn valuable lessons and stumble along the way. With enough patience and persistence, however, you'll find what you've been looking for.
Here are some of the biggest mistakes I've made when launching my own companies over the past 10-plus years. Avoid them and you'll set yourself up for success.
- Not being focused, setting clear goals or managing time correctly: This is by far the most common mistake that people make every day. It's difficult to focus on something specific when you're running a startup. Everything is changing so quickly and you're passionate enough to want to do all you can. Unfortunately, it almost never works out.
- Not accepting mistakes and moving on: Making mistakes is inevitable, but things get easier if you're the first to admit them, make changes and move forward. When, as a leader, you make a mistake, admitting it can be tough. You hope a miracle will happen or maybe even expect your peers to bring up the issue instead. Don't go down that road. Be the first one to admit your mistake and learn quickly from it.
- Not understanding who your customers are: When I founded my very first startup, I didn't know what an Ideal Client Profile (ICP) really meant. I didn't even know who my customers were. Even today as I speak with early-stage startup founders, I usually hear claims such as, "We cater to everyone in X industry" or even worse, "Our customers include every person who uses X." Having a clear, in-depth understanding of who your customers are will dramatically increase the results of your initial customer acquisition efforts.
- Being too cheap: Don't underestimate your product! Many entrepreneurs believe that having lower prices than the competition will result in more customers, but that isn't always true. On the same note, you can't justify lowering prices by thinking that you'll acquire millions of users. As mentioned above, make sure you clearly understand who your clients are. If you're unable to acquire that many users, make sure your pricing correlates with your revenue expectations.
- Being afraid of making changes: I've been afraid of making them for a long time. When you have a working business, you fear making big changes because you fear ruining everything you worked so hard for. However, it's healthy for startups to make drastic changes to their products and/or services. You learn a lot and discover new things along the way, boosting your business in the process.
The best of us are guilty of the silliest startup blunders. But what separates a great entrepreneur from a good one is his or her ability to acknowledge those mistakes, learn from them and adapt. And in today's competitive startup landscape, it's one of the few and only guarantees for success.
Ruben Vardanyan is Founder and CEO of Joomag.