4 mistakes founders make when monetising their startups

At some point in time, all startup founders consider monetisation of their business. Personally, I believe that if there's an opportunity to monetise from day one, it should be pursued immediately. A startup that earns revenue from the start gains a significant advantage over competitors who are still striving for profitability.

It is important to remember that monetisation doesn't necessarily mean immediate profitability. Growth companies, particularly startups, may not show profit for some time. Therefore, starting a startup with this understanding is essential – both for the founder's preparation and product development. However, with up to 90% of startups failing, it's crucial to anticipate potential pitfalls when monetising your business.

Four Common Mistakes That Can Derail Your Startup Dreams

Market Unprepared for Your Innovative Product

Founders often see themselves as visionaries, creating products that the market isn't yet familiar with and may not demand simply because it's new. This mindset recalls Steve Jobs' words about Apple's research before launching the iPhone: "What research did we do to create the phone?"

The essence of this quote is clear: users may not know about a product until there's a market for it. However, sometimes the product may precede market demand, and there might be no immediate interest. Numerous examples exist – from video calls, primarily popular in corporate settings rather than private calls, to metaverses, which remain niche despite a dedicated following.

Ignoring User Feedback Analysis

A common mistake among startup founders is insufficient attention to user feedback for product improvement. Instead, they may focus on developing new features or even creating entirely new products. This error manifests when founders believe they know best what their target audience wants, ignoring crucial user feedback and suggestions. For instance, users might highlight specific issues or inconveniences with the product, yet instead of addressing these, founders concentrate on adding new features they believe will be more attractive.

Many startups fail to conduct deep analysis of user data, including product usage statistics, comments, and ratings. Such data can provide valuable insights into what aspects of the product work well and what needs improvement. Without this analysis, founders may miss opportunities to enhance their product and improve user satisfaction.

Mismanaging Growth Crises

Another prevalent mistake among startup founders is struggling to manage growth crises. Growth crises occur when a company experiences rapid expansion without adequate resources, infrastructure, or management expertise to handle it effectively. Signs of a growth crisis include staff shortages, inefficient processes, financial difficulties, management issues, and product quality problems.

For example, rapid growth necessitates expanding the workforce, but inadequate qualifications or overwhelming existing employees can decrease productivity and quality of work. Additionally, as the company grows, management problems may arise when founders are unprepared or unable to delegate tasks or implement new management levels. Financial difficulties often arise from insufficient working capital or inefficient financial management, threatening the company's long-term stability.

Consequences of growth crises include decreased product and service quality, worsened corporate culture, financial problems, and loss of customers. Inadequate attention to growth and poorly thought-out strategies can reduce competitiveness and threaten the company's existence.

To avoid a growth crisis, founders should plan scaling in advance, invest in HR and training, automate and optimise processes, develop management skills, and focus on product quality. Active management of the growth process enables successful adaptation to market changes and reaching new levels of development.

Inability to Acknowledge Mistakes

This issue often arises from blind faith in the success of an idea or product, despite clear signals to the contrary. Founders may persistently adhere to the belief that their project will inevitably succeed, ignoring objective realities expressed in data and market feedback. Blind faith in success may lead founders to overlook or disregard problems that may arise on the path to achieving their goals. These problems can include incorrect development strategies, underestimating competitors, financial planning errors, or insufficient market demand for the product.

A crucial aspect of successful startup management is the ability to recognise and adequately respond to mistakes. This includes recognising losses, analysing failures, and learning from them for future development. Refusal to adapt and persistence in erroneous strategies can lead to long-term problems and even financial instability for the startup.

Acknowledging mistakes and being prepared to adjust course are key elements of successful entrepreneurship. This helps founders adapt to market changes, improve product and business strategies, and ultimately achieve sustainable growth and startup success.