5 Early Stage Startup Struggles (and how to start tackling them)

In my years working in/interacting with startups, I’ve seen founders run into the same hurdles time and again. Here are the 5 most common struggles I see early-stage startups face – and how to tackle them head-on.

Lack of Focus

Early on, it’s tempting to chase every idea and new direction that pops up. But pursuing too many paths at once spreads your team thin. Prioritisation is key. Resist branching out before nailing your core offering. Do one thing well first. The rest will follow.

Build and hope someone will come

Many founders fall into the trap of building a product and then figuring out how to sell it later. Whilst a full GTM strategy will eventually develop, as a founder you need to be working on sales, working on Identifying target segments, assessing the competitive landscape, determining optimal distribution channels, crafting messaging that appeals to your prospects, etc… The best products in the world need to be seen, otherwise, they won’t be products for much longer.

Trying to Do Too Much In-House

Your core competencies as a startup are limited. Don’t go it alone too early. Leverage agencies and contractors for supplementary expertise as needed – e.g. marketing, PR, web development. Preserve capital for priorities, but don’t delay growth opportunities by wanting to build everything. Leverage expertise!

Lack of Process Documentation

When it’s all hands on deck, the process often happens informally. However, failing to document procedures and business knowledge creates chaos as you scale. I’m not asking you to define and document every process as if you were at a Fortune 500 business, but the simple act of documenting things from day 1, becomes an embedded part of your culture, avoiding lots of misalignment in the future.

Founder Burnout

Let’s face it, launching a startup is a 24/7 grind. But founders running themselves ragged helps no one. Enforce boundaries and self-care. Build buffers between your personal and professional life. Get exercise in as part of your routine. Chat to other founders, damn, chat to me (always happy to take 30mins of being agony aunt, sometimes you just have to let it all out!). Only by sustaining energy can you go the distance.

Of course, every startup’s challenges are unique. But anticipating common hurdles goes a long way. With focus, planning and support, any obstacle can be overcome. Have you faced challenges like these early on? Let’s keep the conversation going!

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