Whether you have started a technology business, or have a startup that uses technology (which would be many startups), there are three common stumbling blocks to avoid.
Coming up with a business idea is exciting. But the journey of taking your idea and turning it into a thriving business is one filled with obstacles as well as opportunities for long lasting success.
My second business, theright.fit, is based online and while it is based on a clever idea, the execution of that idea has only been successful because I have avoided three common stumbling blocks:
1. Ignoring feedback
One of the quickest ways to put off customers, isolate suppliers, and kill off a good idea is to ignore feedback.
Feedback is the most accurate barometer for your concept and the way your business is run. You might overlook or not even notice inefficiencies, errors, poor behaviour, and missed opportunities in your business, but customers, potential clients and suppliers don’t. So make a point of conducting formal and informal surveys, talk to customers about their experience, interact with your suppliers, and know what your business’ reputation is.
Meet with your potential clients in person, if possible, to really assess their needs so you can make sure you are maximising the opportunity of your business addressing those needs. Make sure you are present and available. In the end, you’re creating an experience, and that experience has to be good for whatever your audience may be.
There is nothing more effective in helping you improve your business than honest feedback.
2. Doing it all yourself
You don’t hold a monopoly on time. You have as many hours in a day as everyone else. And that means that you need to be smart in how you use them. Even as an entrepreneur in the early stages of a business when you might feel like you have to do everything yourself, you really shouldn’t.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Delegating or outsourcing major functions that require an expertise that you don’t have, will save you time and money in the long run.
You also need to be protective of your mental capacity. Free your mind up from functions that are not your strengths, so you can dedicate to your brain to what only you can do.
For example, should you really be the CFO, bookkeeper, accountant, UX expert, public relations specialist, graphic designer, and receptionist, when you are also the founder of your business?
These areas should be outsourced to external suppliers, particularly in the early stages of your business, because you may not require their services full-time. Working with external suppliers means you get to work with best of breed, but without the cost of a full-time salary.
To maximise their output set clear deliverables up-front, agree on a process to work through together, and ensure you are regularly assessing both yours and their expectations. It’s important you schedule how often you meet and communicate, what is expected of them in the role, and when certain items are due to be updated.
I have found it easy to keep track of all of this with a WIP document for each supplier to ensure deadlines are being met. This ensures that both parties are clear on expectations and thriving in the relationship.
3. Choosing the wrong investment partner
Raising capital is time-consuming and a little bit scary, and it can be tempting to accept the first or biggest offer that you receive from an investor. But the impact an investor has on your business is more than just providing funding. An investor can fill knowledge and skill gaps within your business, if you choose the right one.
One last simple thing: if you’re unsure the investors you’re considering share the same vision and values as you, don’t sign the deal. Like me, you’re putting blood, sweat, and tears into your business. You need to agree on what your success looks like, and how they can support you. You don’t want to put all that time and energy into a deal, only to find out later it isn’t working.
So how do you attract the right investment partner for your venture? Have a well-detailed pitch on-hand, even if you’re not looking for funding right now. We had a draft done for my business, theright.fit, the year we launched. Have a detailed financial model ready to go, and make sure it is an accurate portrayal of where your business is going.
You need to know all of this from day one and be familiar with it so you can feel confident about talking through the key metrics of your business, understanding the drivers, and be able to build out different scenarios if required. Fundraising is its own full-time job, and the work you do before going out there and knocking on doors is time saved.
When assessing potential investors for theright.fit I sat down with my executive team and looked at the value each investor could add outside of capital, and ensured their vision and values were aligned with ours.
Most entrepreneurs are known for their ideas. But successful entrepreneurs are also known for how well they execute those ideas. Don’t let these three common mistakes be a stumbling block that gets in the way of your idea being a successful business story.
Taryn Williams is the CEO and founder of THERIGHT.FIT and WINK Models. She is also a finalist in the My Business 2017 awards. With over fifteen years’ experience in the world of modelling, advertising and media, she launched theright.fit in 2016, a two sided marketplace for creative talent that makes it easy, efficient and cost effective for brands to book campaigns using the best and brightest talent. theright.fit has over 6,500 talent on the platform and guarantees payment for all of them within 48 hours.