THE BLOG

What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing Start-Ups?

05/05/2015 05:25 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2016

I can say from experience that starting a new business can be as terrifying as it is exciting. This is because, at any given time, a young company can find itself facing a number of obstacles. From hiring the right team to develop the business, to defining your brand's image and key messaging, start-ups must overcome these challenges to ensure success and longevity.

Competition
One of the biggest challenges that all start-ups face is competition, particularly in markets dominated by well-known, established brands. The key is to find a niche market, not yet saturated by other companies with the same product. As there will almost always be another brand offering a similar product, think outside the box; it's so important to establish a clear target audience and a specific brand message to differentiate your start-up from all of the others out there.

Hiring
Hiring employees to support your venture can be a nerve-wracking experience, as you're putting your 'baby' in someone else's hands; however, it is one of the most important investments for a start-up. To find the right talent whilst sticking to a budget is a challenge for any company, in particular for lesser known brands. Building a strong team to nurture and develop a young business is key to success; as you are putting your time, money and trust in your team, it is worth investing in finding the right people.

Keeping up with change
With technology constantly developing and more countries and industries shifting online, information is constantly changing. Not only keeping up but staying ahead of the competition is a significant challenge for young companies. Furthermore, with plans to roll a start-up out into multiple markets, each country needs to be approached with an individual strategy based on market conditions. It is of course difficult to generalize across markets because no two countries are exactly the same, even though there are some similarities.

A key challenge that I have come across in some markets, such as Myanmar for example where the Internet penetration is among the lowest in the world, is convincing consumers of the value of the Internet and e-commerce - the value in shifting online. In other more mature markets, which are already heavily digitized, there is stiff competition for start-ups from well-established competitors.

The website
Of course, making sure that a product keeps up with changes in the market is vital. For Internet-based start-ups, this often means adapting the website. There are a number of questions we need to be asking ourselves - Is our website mobile-friendly? Does it have an attractive, easy-to-manage user interface? With so many websites, it is difficult to make one stand out in the crowd - however, in my opinion, a secure, reliable and well-performing website can often speak for itself.