From a serial entrepreneur: How to avoid critical startup mistakes
At Innovation Factory, we often receive requests for Lunch ‘n Learn topics dealing with entrepreneurial challenges and failures. The startup world is notoriously tough; companies fail everyday and even the ones that receive funding aren’t immune to bumps along the road. Our clients who are new to the startup world want to hear from those who’ve been there, failed once or twice, and can speak bluntly about what they’ve learned.
So for our April 19th Lunch ‘n Learn, we invited serial startup pro, Adam Jarczyn, to chat candidly about key challenges he has confronted in his startup journeys and tips for avoiding the potholes.
Top three mistakes entrepreneurs make
Adam began by discussing the significance of building a team. He shared that, in the past, he had tried to make other team members as passionate about a project as he was, and it just didn’t work. He also ran into situations where he or his co-workers hedged their time with day jobs and other startups, which always put their current project behind everyone’s other priorities. Getting a team of people together who are passionate, skilled and committed is tricky, but as mentioned in Jim Collins’ Good to Great, Adam says it’s crucial to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off it, and the right people in the right seats.
He also talked about one of the key areas where entrepreneurs need to improve: nailing down what customers actually want. Adam himself invested tens of thousands in a solution to a problem nobody really had, and focused on a business-to-consumer model when business-to-business was the better way to go. Instead, he suggests putting yourself in the customers’ shoes and writing the story from their perspective. That way, you find a product to fit your customer instead of a customer to fit your product.
Another situation Adam referenced was the entrepreneur who tries to do it all, noting it’s advisable to do less and focus your efforts. In one of his own startups, Adam and his team spent too much time prioritizing social media, being thought leaders, running a blog, etc. This can all be very important to a startup’s marketing strategy, but his team at the time tried to do it all (i.e. be active on each and every social media platform without a clear reason for it) and ended up stretching themselves too thin. In this case, a targeted, focused approach would have yielded better results.
Along with Adam, we had an Innovation Factory client share her own entrepreneurial story. At each month’s Lunch ‘n Learn we feature an interesting iF client to share a 5-minute highlight of their business. This month’s Factory 5 was Nicole Mortimer of Laifa Baby, an innovative new baby sleeper that makes diaper changing quick, easy and hassle-free. Nicole has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Laifa Baby, which you can check out and/or support here!
Thanks to Adam and Nicole for sharing your stories with us! You can view photos from the event here.
Our Lunch ‘n Learn events are a great way to get out and network while enjoying a free lunch and learning something new! Make sure to keep checking our events calendar for upcoming Lunch ‘n Learns and other events in the ecosystem.