10 deadly mistakes of technology start-ups in Zimbabwe
Statics show that many technology start-ups fail within a few years or even months after launching. Some tech startups shutdown without even accomplishing anything and without realizing anything from the resources and effort that they would have used to establish. This is quiet an undesirable outcome. Something must be wrong on the side of the startup founders, that if corrected can help our country beat the slowing growth of technology in Zimbabwe. This article seeks to examine and expose the deadly mistakes that tech start-ups make, leading to an early exit from the business scene. Avoiding and correcting these mistakes can see more technonology start-ups making it to Canaan in business. So here are the common mistakes that technology startups make.
Failure to plan properly
Great entrepreneurs always say, "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail." Many times this statement has proven true. Many technology startup founders skip the planning phase of their businesses and consequently, they fail after a few months. I always tell people that preparation is the foundation of success. Business planning is preparation. It is in the planning phase that businesses come up with the problems that the idea or product solves. It is in this stage again that objectives are set, times to accomplish them are stated and ways to meet the objectives are highlighted. Suprisingly most startups are just going, no plan. As a result they are prone to doing anything including taking the most dangerous actions because there is no business plan. Planning is like window that allows you as a business to peep through it from time to time to make sure that the business is going the right direction.
Monetising Too Early
The other common mistake that new tech startups make is to monetise too early. This problem is very much found with online based startups and a few services oriented startups as well. They monetise too early. They concentrate on making money from the startup as opposed to solving the problems. Some startups concentrate on building huge followings at the expense of quality of services provided. Eventually, they fail. Successful startups do not measure their success by the coins that they are able to accumulate at the end of the day, but by the number of problems that they were able to solve at the end of the day, that is the quality of services they provide to the market. When this is done, money naturally comes. I once mentioned it in one marketing tips article that people's buying behaviour is many times affected by 3 things namely feelings, relationship and trust. That means people are likely to buy your product if they like/love you, if you have developed a good relationship with them or if they trust you or your product. This takes time. Monetising too early before they have a relation with you and before they trust you hurts the business. Many startups make this mistake anyway.
Failure to solve existing problems in the market
Continuing from my previous point, if a businesses prioritises money, profits and sales over solving problems in their market, the business naturally shuts down because it has failed to solve existing problems in the market, hence no relevance to the market they are serving. A problem is first before a solution, therefore solving it is also first before before reaping from it. So many technology startups are trying to reap from a market whose problems they did not solve. If they solve the problem, they will naturally reap. One of the reasons why they fail to solve problems in the market is that the startup founders may not even understand the problems. Before one can solve any problem, he/she has to fully understand. This is not the case with many tech start-ups. They do not solve existing problems because they do not understand the nature of problems and perhaps the market itself.
Failure to understand the market fully
The mistake of not taking time and steps to understand the market before trying to bring wrong solutions to the market is the other big mistake startups in technology make. By understanding the market, I am talking about understanding the problems that they are facing, market demographics and their spending pattern. This and perhaps more is what startups require to fully understand the market. Bringing a one size fits all solution to the market will not work. Product and services that technology startups bring to the market must be group specific, can be for the young, middle-aged or old. Can be women or men targeted solutions. Understanding the market is important in that different groups in a market face different problems hence the need to break the market down before bringing in wrong solutions. Location is also another factor when trying to understand the market, what works in Harare may not work in mutare. So technology startups must undertake market research and do survey before trying to commit their ideas to these markets. In this digital world it is also very important to understand where they are on social media. I cannot exhaust it all, let me proceed.
They lack innovation
The other problem leading to closure of technological startups is lack of innovation, may be too slow in innovation. A technology startup cannot afford to use the same systems, same methods, same approach time and again. Eventually people may move over to those who are adopting new technologies leaving your startup with no choice but to close. The list can be endless if I start to give examples on this point. But if Econet upgrades to 5G network then Telecel should wisely upgrade as well. If you are a startup founder you can complete the list by giving similar examples that fits your niche. If your competitor ------------ then you must also --------------. Got it ?
Having faith in Funding/Sponsors
In Zimbabwe many startup founders complain for lack of funding. They feel that funding and sponsorship will get their business idea working, but did you know that too much faith in sponsors and donors can get your startup to shutdown. First you will be at risk of diluting the original vision that existed before the sponsors when sponsors also start to voice, throwing their own opinions. This is not necessarily wrong, but in most cases it can distort the vision. Secondly you may end up concentrating in sponsors so much that you eventually fail to do things that can still be accomplished without sponsors. I personally think that sponsors must naturally come to support a greatly executed idea. So this is what sartups should concentrate on instead.
Wrong Business Partnerships
This is a different point but related to the previous one somehow. Wrong partnerships can surely buckle a good start-up. Sometimes it is good to go solo, but if you choose to start with a partner, make sure you choose the right one because once you do, you are stuck with this person for the rest of your business life, till the death of the business set you apart, hahaha. A good partner can however make work easier and make business success easier to obtain. One who compliments you in skill, one who also bring something to the business table, one who is resourceful, reliable and who believes in the vision and wants the vision to work like you do.
Lack of business ethics
Some startups die early because they lack business ethics. They do anything anyhow. Consequently the startup fails. What are your business ethics? Are you operating within these ethics. Someone once said once you prepare a timetable you have to become its servant not its master inorder to benefit from it. This is very similar with business ethics. you have to be guided by the very ethics you set., otherwise the business fails. There are things I cannot do on this blog because set ethics wont allow me.
Lack of Consistency
I have studied the stories of many technology startups. Many of them start to become profitable after the first 2 to 3 years. For some sartups, it may even take up to 5 years before the first coin enter their pockets. On the other hand many startups closes with 6 months to 2 years, that is to say before realising any profits from their sweat. They fail to be consistent. In most cases it has to do with fake words they have heard or read from some books that everything was going to be just downhill to success hence they give up when it turns out that hardwork is required. Startup founders must know that years before profits are years of hardwork everyday. The harder you work the shorter it will take before the first profits, the more you relax, the longer it will take before the first profits and when this happens, usually you may give in and shutdown the startup.
Copy-cating existing startups
While it is not necessarily wrong to do the same technology business that someone else out there is doing, it is disastrous to copy-cat everything. The highest chances are that people know very much the services or product of those who came before you and the only way for you to penetrate is to offer it differently. Peharps find a better solution to the same problem some startups are trying to solve. You may also have to identify an unmet need in the same market that other startups are serving. Or make your product or solution more accessible than theirs, perhaps by offering it at a cheaper price though the highest chances are that they can knock you out in the pricing battle if they choose to. The best thing to do is to provide a unique solution to a big unique problem.
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