3 mistakes I’ve made with my startup
By Andrew Reid
“If you make something users want, you’ll probably be fine. If you don’t make something users want, then you’re dead, whatever else you do or don’t do.”
Paul Graham said this in the context of startup failure. There are mistakes every company will make. It’s just the way it is. The good news is you can recover from almost any mistake. The only real problem is if you make mistakes in a company no one cares about to begin with.
Obviously, the least amount of failure the better. So, today, I’m going to try and save you some time. I’m going to share three of the biggest mistakes we made in our company. My name is Andrew and I am one of the founders of Tipsy, an alcohol delivery app. The idea sprouted over a year ago and we officially launched to the public January 2015. So, at this point, I’ve had some time to reflect over things I wish I hadn’t done.
The funny thing about our mistakes was that I knew about them before I made them! But, when you’re in the moment, you somehow forget everything and all hell breaks loose.
These mistakes might seem obvious, and truth is, they are – but they are easy traps to fall into. So, without further adieu, here we go…
- Saying yes too much
I strongly believe that the more you help others succeed, the more you will succeed. The problem we have ran into is was we said yes a little too much. We were on autopilot with “yes” because we were so new. We wanted to go to as many events and network with as many people as possible. We were scared to miss an opportunity.
While this did help, it also affected our focus. Saying yes didn’t allow us to really solve our main problem: getting users.
The relationships we have made have definitely been beneficial, but we are at a point where I feel like we need to start saying no. Starting a company feels like you’re the new kid at school. You don’t know anyone and you feel like you should cling onto anyone who befriends you.
Don’t get me wrong, we befriended some pretty amazing people. But, now it’s time to really focus on us. Bottom line: don’t be afraid to say no.
Richard Branson said it best: business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.
One of my co-founders belief was that we were going to build something so amazing that people would spread the word for us. He thought our idea was so awesome that the marketing would take care of itself.
I knew right away that wouldn’t be the case. It’s almost never the case. If you build it they will come – definitely not true!
I knew we had to go out there and really spread the word. But, knowing and doing are two different things.
Although I knew this, we didn’t market as effectively as I wanted to. This is partly because we didn’t know how. That’s kind of funny, right? Well, we never identified our target market. If we didn’t know who we were selling to, then how could we go out there and sell?
- We had no user in mind
As I stated earlier, we didn’t have a user in mind. We sort of had an idea of who we wanted to target, but never brought that to fruition. This one is SO important and is probably the biggest mistake we have made.
You need to get really specific with this one. It needs to be, “I’m marketing to Bryan, a 27 year old white male who likes to drink whiskey and makes $70,000 a year.”
The more specific the better. A lot of people are scared to get really specific because they are scared they will miss a lot of users. Truth is you won’t.
You will target your market perfectly and you will still get other consumers outside your target demographic using your service. But, if you don’t have a target market in mind, then your marketing will be shit. This is something we are still trying to fix as we speak.
Bottom line: Get ultra specific on who you want to sell to. Even give them a name!
So, there you have it. Three mistakes we made in our startup:
- Don’t be scared to say no
- Know your demographic!
They might seem obvious, but so many people will make these mistakes. Hopefully, I have you think about this – don’t make the same mistakes we did.
Andrew Reid, founder of TheHustlerMind.com
Founder of Tipsy the alcohol delivery app.