Five dangerous traps start-ups should avoid

More often than not, entrepreneurs fall into some ditches. Not because they plan to, but because they don’t have knowledge and information regarding some issues. The entrepreneurial journey is full of challenges, frustrations, obstacles, enemies, distractions, and many people who don’t want to see you prosper.

There are a few basic mistakes which startup entrepreneurs tend to make, irrespective of the nature of business.

  1. Focusing too much on results

Entrepreneurship is about designing and maintaining the flow of a business in a desired manner. It is also about helping the firm function in a result oriented mode. If an entrepreneur does exactly that, then the performance of the firm will be better.

However, obsession with short term results is often the downfall of most startups. Most entrepreneurs are too concerned with getting instant results, rather than setting their business basics right. For them, initial performance matters the most and they measure performance in terms of pure profit. In doing so, they overlook the elementary facts of running a business successfully.

For any type of business, one needs a good foundation which includes the right kind of infrastructure, and the ability to implement strategies in the business plan. Focusing too much on the bottom line profit will hamper the growth of the startup before it leaves the ground.

  1. Obsession with your ideas

When you are obsessed with your idea and what you are doing, you start forcing things to happen your way. This is dangerous because you don’t think straight and the decisions you make are not informed by current and changing realities.

I got obsessed at some point and all I did was make wrong moves. The moment I learned to let things flow at their pace and think openly on how best I could innovate the existing product, that’s when the ideas started working.

The danger of being stuck on your idea is that you end up focusing too much on the wrong things. Be open to change, take the blinders of obsession off and look around and don’t be scared to go on all sorts of directions. It’s only by being a free thinker that you can find the most unusual and promising opportunities.

  1. Borrowing Money

When most startups start making money, the little success fuels unbridled expansion plans. But with little capital to expand, businesses borrow from expensive sources on the confidence of future growth.

This happened to me and that’s the reason why I usually says entrepreneurs should avoid shylocks at all costs. I almost lost my business to shylocks because I was unable to pay the high interests.

If you need to borrow, allow your business to grow organically first before you approach an investor or negotiate good terms with a Sacco or bank.

  1. Partnering & Hiring

If you are to make it in entrepreneurship, you will have to surround yourself with the right people. By the right people, I mean the people you partner with and the people you hire.

For a partner, don’t just look for a financier. Find someone who has the interest of the business at heart, someone who wants to grow with you and someone who really wants to take your company to the next level. Look for someone who you can confide in and someone who will give you the right counsel. Most of the young guys run for the money and they end up frustrated.

Don’t hire the wrong people for the wrong reason. Sometime back, when I was starting, I hired a lady that I believed will bring me all the clients because of her beauty, but I was very wrong. She didn’t meet my expectations because I had hired her for the wrong reasons.

When you are hiring, hire rock stars, hire the best of the best. Smart people working in unison do beautiful things. Hire quality and not quantity. Don’t surround yourself with dead weight. Find that one person who is effective who has the manpower of 10 and don’t be frugal; find the right people for the right jobs and pay them what they are worth.

  1. Too many opinions

Whether you are getting unsolicited advice from well-wishers (friends and family who are business-minded) or if you proactively seek out the answers you need on your own, be wary of being overwhelmed with too many colliding opinions. Having too many people volunteer different suggestions can lead to confusion, which can lead to indecision.

This is bad especially when you have to make a tight call. When there are a lot of opinions weighing on your mind, you may end up making a split-second decision, which can be very bad for business. I used to have very many people advise me; from friends to some people I considered my role models until the time I realized they all had their own motives.

I always ended up missing something in the decisions that I made. I cut them off after knowing the right business decisions are made by listening to your instinct. Sometimes it is a lot better and easier to learn by experiencing it yourself.

Contributed by Eric Kinoti (Nairobi – Kenya)


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