I have been in full time business for more than 10 years. During the first years I made few deadly mistakes that delayed my take off at a crucial time. Today I see several startup entrepreneurs commit similar blunders to the detriment of their success.
The first blunder is treating customers casually. The first impression matters because it often lasts.
You may have many things to do such as employee issues, system breakdowns and search for capital. However, that does not give you a reason to offer your customers substandard services.
Treat your customer in a way that makes them feel important and appreciated in your own small and creative ways. Your first customers are your marketers and moderators whose reactions and feedback is very important.
Being late for appointment, promising what you cannot deliver, and showing up for a presentation when you are not well prepared send signals to your customers that you are treating them too casually or you are not serious in what you are doing. Remember that customers can entertain some inconveniences, a bit of poor service and casualness here and there from well established large companies with strong brands but not startups.
To win customers over you must stand out in your dealings with them and give them justification to switch loyalty.
Another blunder that is an Achille’s heel for many startups is chasing two or more rabbits at the same time. It is tempting to consider starting another source of income to supplement your young, struggling venture. This is a serious mistake. By focusing on one business and giving it all your attention and resources, you stand to gain more than doing many things simultaneously.
Finally, there is the common mistake of ignoring what easily passes as minor issues. Things like grammatical errors on your brochures, website, advertising material or minor defects on your products may look trivial and not a big deal to you but they portray you as a quack rather than a professional who can be trusted. Also, incompetent employees and substandard materials annoy and put off customers. One customer’s complaint or dissatisfaction can easily bring down your infant firm if not handled well.
It is better to start small and learn along the way as you grow than to bite more than you can chew and bring your venture down. The main advantage of starting small is that you are able to understand your customers and business environment and continually improve your services while correcting mistakes before they explode.
When you start small you make small and less costly mistakes because the number of customers and exposure is not much.