Thursday, December 8, 2011

Common Mistake of the Beginning Entrepreneur

Once you become an entrepreneur you must be an entrepreneur. A common mistake made by beginning entrepreneurs is failing to make the transition from specialist or hobbyist to entrepreneur.

For example, I know a guy who, after starting his business, spent weeks painstakingly combing over the technical details of his web service. I sat with him as he spent the better part of an hour explaining the problem. Upon closer examination I realized his problem was not a problem at all. His real problem was fear. He needed to get out in front of his target market and it terrified him. So, he hid behind his code. Fortunately, I was able to talk some sense into him and he got off of his butt and got to the business of marketing his service.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

For the beginning entrepreneur this is your chief responsibility. It does not matter how sound your business plan or how stellar your management team. If you have no sales, you have no revenues. If you have no revenues, you have no business. Even if you have some seed funding, it will eventually run out. You need to illustrate the marketability of your product or service by generating sales and buzz. In a word: execution.

This game of entrepreneurship will not wait around while you perfect your product. While you sit in the lab perfecting your code, someone else with a similar product just made it available on the web as a beta. Here is the genius behind this approach. They create buzz while getting feedback from actual users. They take the feedback, add it to the final product and gain guaranteed buyers. More importantly, they gain mind share. 

Getting your product or service in front of your target market NOW is essential. Either you take on the responsibility yourself or bring someone on staff who will live and breathe this responsibility. 

No Outsourcing Allowed

Another mistake I see often is when the beginning entrepreneur "teams up" with someone and offers them a commission to help sell the product. There is nothing wrong with strategic partnering, but if you use it as a means to get out of selling, failure is just a matter of time. That other person or company has their own set of priorities. Namely, selling their own products and services. Even if you place your product on the shelves of retail stores, you still need to create buzz for your brand. You simply cannot outsource this responsibility.

Friends and Family Do Not Count

I know this will come across as harsh but sometimes good medicine is bitter. Your friends and family love you and they want to see you do well (hopefully). Many of them will buy from you to be supportive. Many beginning entrepreneurs try to exhaust their network of friends and family to avoid the inevitable; selling to people they do not know. I am not saying you should not get sales and feedback from friends and family, but you should take the results with a grain of salt. Process their orders and take their money, but go after your target market NOW.

This is also true for doing business with past associates who know you and your work. They also want to see you do well and do not require being sold in order to buy. The lesson here is to get to your target market as quickly as possible. 

So, please by all means avoid making this common mistake. You have something that is so special that you decided to build a business around it. If it is that special then you MUST get it in front of your target market because they need it and it will improve their lives. Approach the task of marketing and sales with this in mind and you WILL succeed. Good luck.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

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An Open Letter to a Beginning Entrepreneur

1 comment:

  1. Fear is a great liar. It will always give you and excuse instead of a success.