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Entrepreneurs: Don’t let these 5 traps trip you up at launch

Failed business

There’s a reason why not everyone is a successful entrepreneur. It’s because making dreams and visions into a reality is hard work, and to be blunt, just not something everyone can do.

The conceptualisation phase is the easy part; it’s turning that into something that can demand market share that requires skill and the right amount of knowledge, research and gusto.

It’s a well-known fact that the first three years of any start-up is the make-or-break years where mistakes come easy. Experts agree, however, that the most common mistakes are made at launching phase. Here’s the top five mistakes you’re likely to make when launching your business idea.

#1 Not doing enough market research

Asking your friends and family what they think of your idea is not market research. Hard as it may be to believe the idea you love and obsess over won’t be ranked as life-changing by everyone. Questions you need to be able to answer before you even think of launching include: How large is your target market? How will you communicate with your market? Who are your competitors? What can you do better than your competitors, and how will you inform your market of this?

Invest in doing some focus groups and run surveys. Don’t go to launch with head-in-the-sky answers to these questions. Your time and money demands and deserves that you pay adequate attention to this.

The 1 ingredient that will help you succeed

#2 Underestimating how much money and time you need

It’s hard enough to get the launch date absolutely perfect, but this needs to be followed up with spot-on estimation of when your first month of breaking even will be, when you’ll show a profit, and adequate estimation of your required living costs until you can draw a salary from the business.

Getting these estimates wrong will result in your start-up running into financial difficulty and potentially even leave you filing bankruptcy.

#3 Your product or service does not seem to be different, unique or better

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If your messaging doesn’t make it clear that your product or service is cheaper/better/more sophisticated/better suited, then why would customers opt to use you?

You need to have a very clear picture of who your competitors are and what you will be doing differently; and then be consistent with getting that message across to your market.

#4 You spent too many resources focusing on the small stuff

Getting the details like your business card, unique telephone number and even the marketing material just right is, of course, vital – especially for your messaging to your market. But you must avoid the trap of this distracting you from your product or service definition and development.

These factors can very easily result in you launching with an underdeveloped product or service, or being unable to roll with the punches and launch to the challenges and surprises of new business growth.

#5 Undervaluing your product or service

While giving discounts, opening specials or special deals to your first customers is understandable, and can be a good marketing initiative, you need to always keep your profitability front of mind. Building a customer base is vital to your start-up’s success but equally important is making sure that your pricing is aligned to your growth and profit predictions.

Mistakes are inevitable; it’s the ability to learn and adjust that separates the successful business owners from the dreamers.


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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