What First-Time Entrepreneurs Struggle With and How to Overcome

The world is more entrepreneur-suitable than ever. You can access a global customer base at your fingertips at little to no cost. In a world where you can create a new market or industry for a new product so easily, it is no surprise that we have a rise in successful first-time entrepreneurs. 

Auckland generates half of New Zealand’s tech sector income, contributing $7.8 billion in GDP and creating a healthy job market. 

Most entrepreneurs have great ideas that are innovative and even groundbreaking. However, only 50% of startups survive their first 5 years. Being an entrepreneur requires skills beyond a product – you have to know how to run an operation, manage people, engage with investors, decide on marketing efforts, etc. The list is endless. 

When the initial buzz is over, how to scale is going to make or break your business. VCs and investors often claim that they invest in the founder(s) as much as they invest in the idea itself. Being a CEO and your own boss requires you to be versatile and wear countless hats. We cannot, however, become experts in everything. What will make you stand out as a good, trustworthy CEO is your willingness to continuously learn and adapt. 

What Entrepreneurs Find Challenging 

While there is no universal playbook for entrepreneurial success, there are a few areas that are easy to miss or dismiss that become critical down the road. Owning your business requires you to manage multiple resources and uncontrollable external factors. You will have limited resources with so many competing priorities and have to decide on trade-offs every day. 

This is like managing one of the largest projects one could manage. Hence why there’s a rush now for technical-background startup founders to find co-founders who have six sigma or project management expertise. You can also roll up your sleeves and upskill yourself in project management skills.

Being a project manager comes in handy – you will learn how to set your north star, identify key milestones to hit, define metrics you need to measure to have real-time visibility over progress, assign and prioritize resources, and pivot when needed. 

The goal of project management isn’t to avoid failing. In fact, failing early is encouraged. The faster you fail, the faster you’ll know how to pivot. Founders of failed startups are 20% more likely to succeed in their next attempt. This is easier said than done as entrepreneurs are under enormous pressure to demonstrate constant and consistent growth to their investors. 

How to Improve Your Chance of Success

In order to ensure you can better project manage your business growth with discipline, you have to 1) build a robust business plan with a clear Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy, and 2) invest in cultivating the right culture. 

Building a Robust Business Plan With Clear GTM Strategy

Regardless of how brilliant your strategy is, you need to have that translated into a clear, comprehensive business plan. A business plan includes your mission, product, marketing efforts, customer profiles you’ll be targeting, and how you will be able to capture value. 

The plan should also include your resources and funds available. Combined with the anticipated revenue stream, it should help you guide where best to allocate the resources and the prioritization of product development and marketing channels needed to maximize the results with minimal investment. 

Investing in Cultivating the Right Culture

Many first-time entrepreneurs realize soon after their business starts to take off that their biggest concern is something they didn’t think much of before: people culture. Many founders list ‘culture’ as one of their biggest concerns. As a young company operating in an uncertain environment, your success depends heavily on having the right people in your team. 

That means you need to make sure you have cultivated an environment that appeals to top talents. Often, good people will leave startups if their culture starts to shift unfavorably once the company starts to scale as well. So building a culture is a delicate, repetitive process – it requires constant attention.

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