Wednesday, May 18, 2022

6 Success Mistakes Often Made By Serial Entrepreneurs

Degree-Vs-Dropout-Dilemma-Of-A-Young-EntrepreneurAs you know, growing a business is hard, especially the first time. Unfortunately, every new initiative is different, so don’t get too smug if you have had some success, and can’t wait to repeat it again. In my years as a business advisor, I have seen many of you crash and burn the second time around, despite the confidence. I advise working the next one as thoroughly as the first one.

Here are some key insights that I and others have collected for mature company leaders, as well as serial entrepreneurs. They often justify strategies in their own minds that lead to problems or even catastrophic failures that they never saw coming:

  1. Concluding recent positives are the new norm. Unfortunately, in this new age of rapid market change and harder-to-satisfy customers, you can’t assume that what worked yesterday will work tomorrow. New technologies and the power of the Internet can change things almost overnight, so do your homework from scratch on every initiative.

    For example, the e-commerce trend, driven by the Internet, has boosted many companies to success, but Covid and more recent customer demands for customization, easy returns, and instant delivery have made to model very difficult for many businesses.

  2. Believing you have a magic approach to growth. In my experience, there is no long-term magic in business. Innovative product and process solutions are only temporary, as they quickly become a commodity in the minds of customers and competitors. Yet, if you did it once, you can do it again, but don’t assume it will be easy, or just copying the past.

    In my experience, the secret is mostly hard work and passion. The successful business people I know typically work longer hours, cultivate more relationships, and create new initiatives more often than the rest of us. Take a lesson from Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.

  3. If you like it, so will all your potential customers. Maybe this worked for you the first time, but it is certainly a high-risk approach. As an angel investor, I expected startups to have a passion for their solution, but also to have done the market research and customer validation to size the real opportunity. You and your friends are not the market.

    In addition, these days you have to help your customers find you, through traditional marketing, more social media, and influencers. With today’s information overload, you can’t assume that people will know that you and your new innovative solution even exist.

  4. Capitalize on a continuing market demand trend. You all remember the seemingly limitless growth of social media and dating sites, so for many adding another one seemed like a sure-fire success. Yet I find that investors and customers are no longer interested in just another one. There is no substitute for new business model work and marketing.

    People are seeing the value and have a growing interest in renewable energy, artificial intelligence, and the use of blockchain technology for business. I’m seeing new business models for remote services, the sharing economy, and creating your own ecosystem.

  5. Overlooking the impact of global market forces. The current geopolitical tensions and the pandemic have and will continue to upset markets that were thought to be golden by many entrepreneurs and business owners. As you look ahead to your next business or growth initiative, I recommend that you take a hard look at your current winning strategy.

    In this age, because of world-wide communication, e-commerce, and quick delivery, every local business is really a part of the global market. Don’t assume that you can isolate your business and marketing to the local area, and continue to survive and thrive.

  6. Let your ego do the thinking based on prior success. Don’t let past success take your foot off the pedal of working hard, building relationships, and truly listening to your customers and other experts. Steve Jobs found that his early success at Apple didn’t guarantee him a job, but he came to back with some new thinking in the end.

The message here is that even the most successful business leaders seeking growth, as well as serial entrepreneurs, should never rest on their laurels. There is no substitute for doing your homework on current opportunities in the market, customer trends, and new technologies driving competitors. Stay on your current winning streak and continue to enjoy the entrepreneur lifestyle.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 5/4/2022 ***



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