Start-up businesses form an important part of many industries and their growth can be dramatic when the right blend of innovation and savvy decision-making can be harnessed effectively. However, for every start-up success story and tale of a meteoric rise, there are many more fledgling companies that never make it much beyond the starting gate.
Here’s a closer look at some of the ingredients in a recipe for start-up failure:
1 -Lack of preparation
As with so much else in life, a lack of preparation can cause serious problems for anyone entering a start-up scenario and hoping for success. Even the best ideas or business concepts can be bungled by bosses who simply don’t put in the hard work to ready themselves and their fledgling operations for the rigours and the challenges of competitive markets.
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Key areas of focus at the preparation phase ought always to include essential market dynamics, competitor analysis and assessment of demand among target demographics. If you, as a start-up operation, don’t know how your market works, who your competitors are and who you hope to see using your services then your dreams of dynamic growth will surely be doomed to fail from the outset.
Of course, even conducting the most extensive and exhaustive research effort prior to launching a new company is no guarantee of success. There is plenty else that needs to go in your favour for that to happen. But, with the wealth of information and inexpensive or free tools now available online, there is really no excuse for not doing your homework ahead of launching a start-up in any sector.
2 – Inappropriate borrowing
Regardless of the market that a start-up company is aiming to enter, there is always scope for too little or too much optimism to cause problems that lead straight to financial disasters early on in the process. Knowing when and how to scale up a particular operation is generally very difficult indeed for organizations of any size but for start-ups the stakes can be a matter of life and death.
In short, without a firm grip on the fundamental financial dynamics underpinning its operations, no business can realistically expect to run smoothly for any length of time. Taking on too much debt too soon can have the consequence of leaving a small company with little or no financial flexibility in the future. While too much of a conservative approach to borrowing might be equally damaging if it means failing to take advantage of key market opportunities at vital moments.
As a rule of thumb, start-ups are generally better served by trying to base their borrowing decisions at every step on what is required rather than what is potentially available. Or, to put it another way, a new business should borrow what it needs not whatever it can. By having this approach in mind, company bosses give themselves a much better chance of seeing a start-up through to the point of sustainability and of reaching fully-fledged small business status.
3 – Inexperience among founders
There is a great deal to be said for the exuberance and enthusiasm that newcomers to business leadership can inject into a start-up situation. However, on the other hand, the realms of start-up operating are generally extremely competitive and errors of judgement of any sort will often be punished rather severely by the unavoidable realities of market dynamics.
A lack of experience in running or being involved towards the top of a business of any sort can also leave individual start-up founders struggling to cope with the pressures that their roles entail. The rewards of succeeding as a start-up company can be enormous but so too can the demands of taking a project from the drawing board to the real world.
It’s true that the only way for any ambitious entrepreneurs or successful business men and women of the future to really develop their skills in earnest is to cut their teeth in real-world scenarios. But for many, setting up a start-up can eventually turn out to be simply too much to take on and their lack of experience can lead to missteps that end up making a big difference.
4 – Not getting enough help and support
Start-up operations can all too easily become isolated during the early stages of their development and in that situation it can be difficult for the company’s founders to prioritise effectively and to be alive to opportunities as they arise. Generally speaking, any start-up can benefit from getting support, help and advice from a variety of different quarters on a regular basis and failing to get it can prove costly.
It can be tough too for start-up founders to admit when they need help and when they can benefit from the fresh eyes of third-party outsiders. Starting a business can be a lonely experience but it doesn’t always have to be and getting support at key moments from the right kind of experts can really help.
The notion of getting all the support that’s required extends too to the issue of hiring and securing the right staff to move a start-up forward in a surefooted fashion. There is often a delicate balance that needs to be struck between taking on too many and too few employees as a company develops but getting it right can be crucial to success and, ultimately, sustainability.
Keith Tully from Real Business Rescue is a leading corporate insolvency specialist. He knows what it takes to keep struggling businesses afloat and what qualities are required of company directors.