How to face startups’​ challenges

If you are a startupper, you are undertaking one of the most challenging endeavors in the business arena and you are in good company; around the world there are over 100 million startups and every year several million new startups are launched. 

Anyway, launching a successful startup isn’t easy at all. According to a recent report published by Startup Genome, well over 90% of startups fail. 

The most common reasons for that are:

  • lack of product/service Marketing fit
  • marketing problems
  • team problems and
  • finance problems.

For a business experiment that has, by its very nature, to be innovative and scalable there are several challenges that every startupper has to cope with and there is no magic that can guarantee success but hard and structured work.

In my experience working with entrepreneurs and startuppers, the best way to properly face those challenges is to go through a loosely structured framework allowing tackle all the relevant aspects of your business, assessing and completing at the same time your knowledge and skills with what you need to succeed.

The most important steps in your analysis are the following.

  • Start with the problem you help to solve, analyze it thoroughly, be precise in describing it; whatt’s the impact of this problem on people and organizations that are facing it? Can you measure the effect of this problem on people and organizations? Look for already existing solutions to this problem, what’s lacking?
  • Then move to your customers and describe precisely your target. Who is your ideal client, the one who is most affected by the problem you provide an answer to? Identify your niche as clearly as possible.
  • At this point you can focus on your product or service, paying attention to highlight what makes it different from the competition. Ask yourself: “what is the very unique advantage my product/service provides to customers?”

Once you are done with that, you have a god grounding for further work. Many entrepreneurs I’ve worked with have never spent time enough focusing on all that, especially when they are already selling, they are way too familiar with their product and tend to give things for granted. When you have been on the market for a while, this lack of analysis might do no harm, maybe it can prevent you to grow more but you can get along with it. But when you face difficult times and you need increasing your sales, in this case, that can be an issue also for seasoned entrepreneurs. But if you are a startupper you can’t skip this work.

Then you move to business model refinement, marketing and sales. Look for already existing alternatives, study business models that work in your industry, you can be innovative there but most times there’s no need to reinvent the wheel; not from scratch at least. Do not neglect marketing and sales. Think carefully about the right strategy to reach your potential customers, figure out the most appropriate communication means.

Finally, do not forget to do some math. Draft down key costs and potential revenues. Force yourself not to underestimate costs and overestimate revenues. Have a realistic business plan focusing on short and medium term. Pay particular attention to payback and break-even points.

All this work will not only help you to manage your growing business but will be the base for dealing with potential investors, both private and public ones. And remember, invest time in building a network of peers with whom sharing your journey. Look for partners and consultants to support you. Learn to focus on key issues and delegate o outsource what you can.

Marco Decandia Brocca

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