5 Simple Mistakes That Can Derail Your Startup

I see more careless and avoidable mistakes by entrepreneurs so keen to perfect their product that they loose track of the very simple things. These little mistakes though can mean the difference between getting a new customer or not; or getting that funding that they want or not. In short, simple mistakes can have gigantic repercussions. Oh, BTW, this applies to all startups – US, European, Asian, Latin, you name it… ALL!

  1. Put a full signature on all your outgoing email messages. That means: your full name, telephone number, company url, email and anything else you think is really important. Why all this? ‘Cause you want to make it easy for people to call you back (no looking up your number) and for people to stay in touch (by making it easy for them to cut and paste all your relevant info). Just look up how to do this in your email client. Look under help on adding a signature to outgoing emails. This applies to all messages from your mobile phone too.
  2. If you’ve got a foreign phone number make it easy for persons in the US to understand how to call you. For example, many foreign countries have zeros in their phone numbers which are used if dialed locally but not used if dialed internationally. For example a European cell number might be (33) (0)6 12 34 56 78 but when dialing it in Europe from within that country you would drop the “0”. Confused? Yep, it can be hard to understand at first. So make it easy for someone in the US to call you anc put something like the following in your signature: “From the US dial 011 + 33 6 12 34 56 78”. It just makes it easier and avoids missed calls.

    If you have a US number make sure that you put a 1 before the area code as 1 is the country code for the US. Don’t make the mistake of assuming everyone knows that. They do, but it’s bad customer relations to make that assumption, plus the one person that doesn’t know will probably be the person that places that big order.
  3. Put your contact information everywhere. You’ve spent countless hours preparing your slide presentation. You send it to a friend who then sends it to an important investor. But, oops, there’s no contact information in your slide deck. Oh, it was on the last page you say. Oops the last page got lost. Do yourself a big favor and put your contact information on every slide. At the very least your website and maybe your name, phone number and email.
  4. On your website make sure you provide people with multiple ways to reach you. That includes emails and phone numbers. But you say: I don’t want to get a 1,000 calls. Yes you do. If they are to congratulate you then you’ll know you’re doing something right. If it’s to complain then you know you shouldn’t be wasting more time doing things the way you are. Plus get real, you’re just starting, few companies take off overnight. When they do, then you can maybe remove the phone number and just have an email address. Until then, leave the number on your website.
  5. Use a regular land line telephone to make all your important calls. OK. This one is probably more for European entrepreneurs. But, I’m finding more folks in the US also starting to do this: using the cheapest form of phone call possible; namely: Skype. [See my previous blog entitled Ceci N’est Pas Un Téléphone – This Is Not A Telephone]. Use a regular phone line! It’s the best voice quality you can get. Sure it’s a bit more expensive but a lost customer or a lost funding opportunity is much more expensive. If you must use a mobile phone and must have an important conversation with someone. Ask if you can call them back from a land line and then do it.

So the next time you’re sending an email, putting together a presentation or making a phone call ask yourself: is there a simple detail I’ve forgotten about that could lose me this client or funding opportunity?

Go ahead… you know what you need to do now. So, just do it!

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