Project Management

Avoid These 6 Startup Mistakes

In this episode, we highlight 6 mistakes that startups frequently make. Hear our advice on each of these issues, and know you’re not alone! Bixly will be your partner during your startup development to help develop a plan for each of these. Full Transcript Below:  Cris: … is who actually …


In this episode, we highlight 6 mistakes that startups frequently make. Hear our advice on each of these issues, and know you’re not alone! Bixly will be your partner during your startup development to help develop a plan for each of these.

Full Transcript Below: 

Cris:

… is who actually needs this?

Andrew:

Why are we doing this, who’s it for, and how is it going to make their life better?

Cris:

Who are your competitors out there? What are they doing well? What are they not doing well?

Andrew:

Is there already somebody doing this? How is what you’re going to do differently than that?

Cris:

We’re talking startup mistakes. So we’re going to touch on six of them, but some of these I think have a lot of depth to them. So number one for me when we’re talking starter mistakes is skipping market research.

Market Research

Andrew:

That’s a great one.

Cris:

What does that mean? What are your thoughts on that?

Andrew:

Well, when we talk about market research, we’re talking about identifying your customers, identifying the problems that they have, what’s the niche and the problem you’re going to really focus on? What does success look like to that customer? So kind of outlining just the most important bullet points of why are we doing this, who’s it for, how is it going to make their life better? How do we know if it’s successful? So it’s establishing that target for us.

Cris:

Yeah. Well, and that it’s even the need because we’ve developed applications ourselves internally. We’ve done advisement for other startups. We work with lots of startups over the many years of Bixly and it’s always the number one question that we have is who actually needs this? Is it needed? Who are your competitors out there? What are they doing well? What are they not doing well?

Cris:

Maybe some of your feature list should focus on what they’re not doing well, instead of, “Let’s do what they’re doing, but just slightly tweak it a little bit.” You’re probably not going to sell a lot of products that way or get applications.

Andrew:

I mean, another really good market research question to ask, too, is there already somebody doing this? How is what you’re going to do differently than that? Is there already a turnkey solution where you could just pay 19.99 a month. In which case you need custom. So these are all the sort of questions that I really enjoy asking our customers particularly during a road mapping process or at least during some initial phone calls just kind of validating their idea, validating the direction they’re going.

Cris:

Cool. What about second point? What do you think is another thing to kind of keep an eye out on?

Cheap Technology

Andrew:

Well, I mean, wasting money on cheap technology, cheap labor, any of those things. Basically going cheap with a very short-term goal of minimizing expense.

Cris:

Okay. So that could be your hardware costs perhaps that like, “Okay, well we’re a startup, we don’t have a ton of money. So we can’t just go run out and buy a bunch of insert expensive company names, product, laptops, or whatever. So we’re just going to go buy whatever this is.” So overall, yes, saving money is important because you have slim profit margins potentially as a startup.

Andrew:

And you’ve got a limited runway.

Cris:

And you’ve got a limited runway, but don’t just always go for the cheapest solution across the board.

Andrew:

Right, right. Yeah.

Softskills

Cris:

I would say in point three here, it would be overlooking important soft skills.

Andrew:

Yes, that’s a really good one.

Cris:

And what I mean by that is you can get these people that have this ability to be big thinkers and have these ideas and like, “Oh, startup and I’m going to this and that.” And they don’t work well with people. Like they might not actually be good in a boardroom doing a pitch, which-

Andrew:

Do they play well with others?

Cris:

Exactly.

Andrew:

Do they communicate well? Do they ask good questions?

Cris:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, what are their team dynamic skills looking like? Are they extremely talented and very, very smart? And they’re going to be that person that can do all that research in that building for your startup. But again, they’re not good in front of people.

Cris:

Just keeping that in mind as you’re building out your team, because budgets again, you’re probably going to be dealing with a more slimmer team. Just be sure that everyone has the soft skills that are required, not only just the technical skills to get the project across.

Andrew:

Right, right. It’s very easy to find the … Well, it’s not easy, but it’s easy to focus on, “Okay, we have to have the rockstar. We have to have this technology.” But like you said, in order to do market research. In order to interact with those customers that are so vital to your success, you have to have those soft skills.

Andrew:

And I mean, for us, just at Bixly, it’s very important to us to have developers that can communicate well with clients. They don’t have to be salespeople. They don’t have to be able to be great at public speaking, but they do have to be able to get on a phone with the clients to ask intelligent questions. It’s a super important soft skill.

Cris:

Yeah. And when you’re in that startup mindset, you, again, hopefully you’ve done your market research, you know the direction where you’re going, but startups pivot really quick and the market might start to shift, tell you something different. You start getting a particular following, a customer base and they want to move. You need people at the table that are going to be able to have those skills to pivot and adjust, work well with teams and kind of deal with the shake up that usually is a startup. And people that are very kind of myopic and focused on a single thing, they don’t like to pivot well.

Andrew:

Right. You got to be flexible. You can’t be overly linear.

Cris:

Mm-hmm.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Cris:

All those soft skills I think come into play and are very important. Number four.

UX and Product Design

Andrew:

Skipping a user experience and product design. We like to come up with a way to express the user experience in a way that we can validate with the client or the client’s clients can validate. They can look at this, they can imagine, “Okay, this is what it’s going to be like, or no, this doesn’t really solve the problem.” Kind of going back to number one with the market research.

Andrew:

Does this experience right here solve these problems and is it intuitive? And so by really doing some user experience planning and just kind of some product design, you can really check off those boxes pretty quickly without making this big financial investment and actually coding and building all that stuff.

Cris:

Yeah. And when you’re pivoting off that initial market research, your research might have been that there, like you said, there’s nothing in the market like this, we’re doing something completely new and different. So I would recommend at least kind of design it and think about it. You are going to be the first one out there. I always say you only get one chance to make a first impression so it’s important.

Andrew:

Definitely. I think Eminem said that.

Cris:

Right. I think it was Eminem. Yeah, exactly. And so you only get one shot.

Andrew:

Yeah. Oh, that’s it.

Cris:

That’s what it is. And-

Andrew:

Cue music.

Cris:

And cue music. And on the same note if you found from your market research that there are a lot of people in this space and you’re now competing, but you know that there’s a particular need or some way to deviate. Well, you should probably really design I would say around that feature, think through the flow of that. Because you’re going to get lost in a sea of everybody else if you’re just doing the same thing.

Cris:

Again, there are market standards though. So don’t go so far off the reservation. There are certain qualities of mobile applications that we’re just used to. The way the experience is, the way we design. So all this stuff is important even though you’re trying to stay agile, even though you need to make split-second decisions, user flow and product design, and just the overall design of things I think is important regardless of what size company you are.

Quality Assurance

Cris:

Rushing QA, number five. Where does QA come into play and why is it a bad idea to rush that? Because you’re a startup and you’re trying to be agile.

Andrew:

Well, in case you don’t know, QA means quality assurance. And it just means making sure it works the way it’s supposed to work. When you’re writing code, there’s always going to be issues, there’s always going to be bugs and those things need to be ironed out. So QA, it’s important, but it’s only so important. So if our goal is just to get feedback and to get feedback as quickly as possible, maybe less QA is required.

Andrew:

If that’s the expectation like, “Hey, we’re getting a beta out there.” I actually was talking with a client the other day who said, “We want this to be in alpha as fast as possible. We are fine with having a whole bunch of bugs.” It’s like, “Okay, as long as you understand that’s what you’re what you’re asking for, but-“

Cris:

And that your users understand that’s what they’re getting is an important message I think with QA.

Andrew:

Right. This is just to kind of set the stage a little bit, the way this client was doing this was they were going to be demoing their product over Twitch. And so they were very in control of what was clicked on. If they knew there was a bug, they could kind of dance around that. So in that sort of sense, they didn’t need extensive QA. They just needed it to basically function.

Andrew:

But if you’re going to be getting this in customers’ hands, even for a beta, we want to spend some time testing it, both us testing it internally. Of course, we test as we develop, but also we like to have a period where we do some testing. And have a period of testing where it’s in the clients’ hands. Maybe it’s a mobile app and we delivered it to them and they spend a couple weeks internally beating up on it, finding any things that didn’t quite meet expectations, and addressing those things.

Andrew:

So all that to say, QA is important. How much QA you need depends on your customers’ expectations. I would largely say that’s a really good way of qualifying that.

Scaling

Cris:

Yeah. So lastly, scaling. I touched on it. Being ready to scale, is that important because you’re a startup? Do you not care about that? Because, again, you’re a startup and you’re trying to be agile. Is there a right answer? It seems kind of nuanced.

Andrew:

Yeah, it’s a nuanced answer. I mean, it depends. I think it depends a lot on your customers’ expectations. When we’re doing the minimal viable product or the MVP, we’re really getting clients focused on acquiring their first customers and getting customer feedback. So it doesn’t have to scale in that phase. You have to get feedback, you have to identify the problem. You have to iterate until you get it right. But at some point, you are going to want to scale. So it really depends like, where are you in the life cycle.

Andrew:

I would say early on when you’re getting those first versions out, scaling is not important. Even in your pricing, scaling’s not important. Once you have customers, you can kind of figure that stuff out. But once you start to get past that and you’ve identified what it is your customers want, kind of going back to that market research. What problem you’re solving, and what success looks like. Then yeah, you do need to like take the time to scale and that’s something we can help people do.

Cris:

Yeah. No, it’s very helpful. And I love it wraps all the way back to that market research because it really is that at the end of the day. Yes, you may not have the actual steps ready to go, but at least think about and hopefully, you are hoping for the fact that this is going to go big. So what do we do when we suddenly have a lot of users overnight? Like, “How do we handle that?”

Cris:

Any other thoughts on this? I think hitting those points of really researching the market, not wasting money on that cheap tech, soft skills, product design, QA, and just scalability in general. Anything else as a startup that’s worth touching on as we wrap up?

Andrew:

Well, I think we really hammered home that market research is important. But I would just say that anything, these things in these lists, these aren’t things that you as the end-user need to know how to do on their own. These are things that we can guide you through. That’s like what we’re here for. So whether it’s road mapping or just a series of phone calls, kind of thing. If you engage with us, we’re going to challenge you on all these things.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed that conversation between Cris and Andrew as they outlined a few mistakes that we see happening a lot in startups so that you can avoid them. If you have any questions, go ahead and leave them in the comment section and we will get right back to you.

Alexandra:

And don’t forget to check out the description box down below. We have a bunch of really helpful links for you guys, including a link to our free custom software guide, which will be particularly helpful for you. If you are in that startup phase.

Alexandra:

You can also check us out online at bixly.com. And right at the top of our website, we have a big button that says Start My Roadmap. And that actually gets you a free 60-minute call with Cris to talk about your next app idea. Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.

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