THE BLOG
12/08/2016 10:57 am ET

5 Ways to Overcome Obstacles and Hurdles in your Startup

Both startup founders and employees should be familiar with overcoming adversity. The startup life is a never-ending battle of establishing yourself as a new player in a market. The battle starts with being able to clearly and succinctly describe your product or service. You have to capture the attention of co- founders, teams, vendors, customers, industry to gain success in today's busy society. Quickly state your value proposition, hold the fluff. No one cares about your idea. No one cares that you want to save the world. People only truly care about what's in it for them.

As if trying to cut through the noise to have your voice heard is not hard enough, entrepreneurs and business owners also have to navigate  the feeling of never having enough money. The revenue coming in feels like it can barely cover the expense of the myriad of services new businesses need. Floundering founders may unintentionally do things that are unproductive, or worse not focus on sales. Empowered business owners focus on mastering their pitch and supporting their arguments with detailed facts. This provides confidence to execute with focus. It is this focused execution that allows successful startups to last beyond the 4 year mark.  are five ways to overcome obstacles and hurdles in your startup

Create brand guidelines before launching

Some of the most popular brands have one attribute in common. They are consistent. Their professional personas encompass the quality of their work, their presentation, and their consistency. So to, customers want to rely and trust your startup. Knowing that your business is capable of delivering a high quality product every time is integral to brand perception and staying in business for the long term. An easy strategy for projecting a professional and consistent brand is to create brand guidelines before launching.

Brand guidelines serve as your visual rulebook. If you haven't done this previously, no worries! Think about the feeling and emotions you want to convey with your brand and select elements of a brand that resonate with that image. Consider if you want your brand to be thought of as sleek and sophisticated or whimsical and playful. In the first case you may want to use black text with slim white font. In the latter example, using primary colors may resonate better with your target audience. It may be helpful to draw inspiration from iconic brands who deliver a vibe that is similar to what you want to create.

To round out your vision, you may want a logo or graphic designed. Open source platforms such as Canva allow you to become a graphic designer with zero experience!  The platform is useful for creating the business basics such as business cards, logos and marketing presentations. Finally, services such a Vistaprint make quality low cost printing accessible.

Thoroughly do your research

Transforming data into actionable insights is powerful. Potential investors and partners will want to understand market size and revenue potential. Small markets don't make good investments for venture capital. Understanding your total available market allows you to understand market size. CB Insights a robust resource for acquiring data and market information. You want to determine how many potential customers exist within your niche, a reasonable price point and the total potential revenue that could be generated by addressing that marketplace need.

An example:

There are estimated 22 million landlords in the United States.

If I am able to sell them each my software for $100 each, I have the potential to make $ 2.2 Billion

Research is also important to flesh out a business model and understand product market fit. This means you should be collecting primary data. Simply put, talk to your customers frequently and survey them to find out their pains and needs. The benefit of this work is that it allows you to create a buyer persona. This is a model of your target customer that includes unique identifying factors such as age, location, income, hobbies, worries, and habits. Done well, this persona allows you to speak your customer's language and address their needs effectively.  ESRI's market tapestry is an excellent resource to start developing your buyer's persona.

Have you ever wondered how the brands you love are able to resonate with you so clearly? Maybe you've wondered how McDonalds or Target selects a new site location. Well, it's all strategic of course! These business decisions are largely influenced by local insights and economic indicators. Market research empowers business decisions. Although your business can be national or international, think locally for a moment. What zip code in your town or city do you believe your product or service can thrive in? Now use this zip code to research the demographics and lifestyle of these residents. This will help you identify key traits and characteristics that will help you find similar people in other locations.

Develop processes and systems in advance

Startup founders usually have trouble delegating responsibilities to others and on-boarding new talent. While we all understand that your business is your baby, a company cannot thrive when one person is the linchpin for all the work that has to get done. In short this internal struggle is attributed to lack of strategic planning and systems building.

Sounds simple, but the practice of implementing is much harder. I was lucky enough to read E-myth Revisited  3 years after I started my company. A close friend and successful entrepreneur suggested I give it a read after I confided in him with some issues I was having in my business. Now I recommend it as the first step someone should complete before taking the leap into entrepreneurship. This book will save you time, headache and help you set yourself up for success.  Most people don't fully understand the dynamics of what it means to transition from an employee (technician) to entrepreneur/business owner. This book will get you there as painlessly as possible.

This book is fundamental to changing your mindset and put your emotions aside in favor of owning a system instead of creating a job for yourself. If you've read The Cashflow Quadrant, you understand the importance of owning a system. Take it to the next level with the E-myth. It's all about stepping up processes from the beginning. This simply means to document the steps and activities that allow you to be successful in the company.

Focus on selling your MVP

"Traction gives you credibility. Credibility gets you meetings. Meetings are where the magic happens." Paul Singh - Former Partner 500 Startups

There is a saying in the startup community which states, if you are not embarrassed by your MVP, you waited too long to ship it! This is absolutely true. I'm not advocating for being unprofessional, however I am saying you should capture the fundamental essence of what you are trying to accomplish and build out the most basic version of your product or service that people are willing to pay for. That threshold is likely a lot lower than you think.

Cover your bases (backside...)

Imagine only paying $30 -$50 per month for your own personal lawyer. A world-renowned one that is at your service to answer any questions you have and provide council on moves you are thinking of making - too good to be true? That is what prepaid legal services offers you! Think of it like you would a health insurance plan, only with legal services. You are paying a monthly premium for access to service should you need it. The idea is that the monthly fee subsidizes the true cost of the service. With one phone call, your lawyer provide consultation for you, review documents, make calls, send emails, write letter for your company and in some cases trial defense. Just like a health insurance plan, should you require services outside of the normal level, you simply pay the difference for another above your "allotment".

According to the American Bar Association, "group and Prepaid Legal Services plans provide an efficient mechanism for matching clients in need of services with lawyers. Group Legal Plans create panels of lawyers with expertise in various areas and match them with plan members/clients."

LegalShield founded in 1972 is an examples of prepaid legal services with a network of more than 6,900 independent provider attorneys across the U.S. and Canada. LegalShield has over 1.5 million members already.

Another household name is LegalZoom which has been around for 15 years. Of course, do your research to determine if the service is right for you.

It's easy to make excuses as new entrepreneurs and startups. Being proactive and resourceful are to key skill sets.  Failure is not bad but necessary. Not pivoting is bad!

 

 

5 Ways to Overcome Obstacles and Hurdles in your Startup was originally published on Due by John Delia.

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