Whether you’re a tech startup, creative entrepreneur or other small business, I’m a big fan of the fact that we can all use occasions like Halloween to share our StartUps 101 knowledge. Not keen about Halloween? Hey, it’s all about The Candy. What I have for you today is a rather playful blog with six scary StartUp errors and how businesses can move forward from them (or just avoid them altogether).

Do you have Scary Startup Errors to share? Read up, get freaked out by the animated gifs and join the conversation on Facebook and on Twitter using hashtag #6ScaryErrors

1st Horrific Error: “I didn’t see that coming!”

(Do you know what your competitors are doing? Are you watching Industry Trends?)

One of the most crucial elements that many businesses tend to overlook is competitive analysis. This is somewhat surprising given that no matter what industry you work in, markets are ever-changing and you will have competitors who could impact the success of your business. One idea is to hold regular futureproofing sessions with your team.

“A competitor analysis grid is a good way to identify what makes your products and services unique.  But having it is nothing if it isn’t reviewed regularly– whether it’s weekly, monthly or quarterly– the key is to be consistently aware. Remember markets change all the time therefore so will your competitors.”
– John Davis, MD of BCSG, one of the Top 100 fastest growing tech companies in the UK.

Creepy scary moment courtesy of Space Odyssey 2001 where reality sinks in:
He has no future. Hal has taken over the spaceship.

2nd Horrific Error: “The Numbers will follow.”

(Do you think the numbers are just about Sales Projections? What about Cash Flow?)

“When beginning any new venture, the key to success is not purely having a good idea and lots of motivation – you need to get a grip of your finances very quickly too. In simple terms, ‘cash flow’ refers to the money coming into the business from selling a product or service, and the money going out of the business as result of expenses and bills. Managing the two carefully is very important to stay in business.”
– Alan Marsh in his blog Guide to Managing Cashflow

Epic nightmare moment courtesy of The Shining where insanity is knocking on the door.
Nope, you can’t hide. (not from taxes, not from The Numbers!)

And then there’s VAT and all the other small business requirements from HMRC. Bookmark Starting a business section in GOV.UK.  Also, by Emily Coltman and our friends from FreeAgent for everything you need to know about VAT for small business.

3rd Horrific Error: “There’s nothing wrong with my web content from 2 years ago.”

(When was the last time you looked around at all your web assets?)

Ok. Once upon a time, saying “we have cool products instore” was probably cool. Say that today and chances are, it calls attention to just how ‘uncool’ your content is these days. Colloquialisms aside, the need for relevant content has never been so crucial to getting found online and converting potential customers.

“Good web design is essential. People’s standards of design have increased significantly with the everyday use of sites like Google, Facebook and Spotify. Make sure your site is clean, clear and optimised for ‘conversions’ and that it works across all devices. Use a strong call-to-action so it’s clear to the visitor where they are and where they’re going…Videos are also a great way to sell your product or service as they inspire, inform and add credibility.”
– Frederic Kalinke in his blog Your Online Workout.

Creepy horrific moment courtesy of The Wall Child where the lesson learned is always
ALWAYS KNOW every room in your house (website) – very old content can have evil repercussions!

4th Horrific Error: “Keeping people at the edge of their seats is good for control.”

(Do you think “sweating” staff or suppliers makes for good business?)

We’re not talking about you getting scared of these animated gifs and being at the edge of your seats…  “Employee Engagement is key for success according to a Government-backed panel called ‘Engage for Success’ which led a campaign launch in November 2012.  It promotes that true engagement is much deeper than measures like employee satisfaction or motivation, and has concrete outputs in terms of productivity, turnover and reduced sickness absence.”

“For businesses large or small, the human element is the same: When your employees put in the hard work and they are engaged, most people end up doing that extra bit to make sure that things get done right. Don’t forget to celebrate with them; making them feel good about their achievements and their hard work.”
– Pan Martinez in his blog Making Your Business Thrive with Employee Engagement.

Creepy eerie moment courtesy of Three Masks. No, you probably don’t want staff and team members
wearing freaky masks around the office.

5th Horrific Error: “I don’t need any Social Media.”

(Now before you panic, we won’t mean jump on the bandwagon.)

Social media is the second most popular tool within the marketing mix for Business and although Facebook by far leads the way there are many other forms – the most important thing is to be where your customers are. There are a number of excellent videos on YouTube that explains the “Social Media Revolution” This 2-minute video from Erik Qualman is by far one of the best ways to quickly explain the basic metrics behind this.
– Debs Gemmell from her blog Social Media and The SME

Before you start frantically tweeting, pinning and Facebooking, remember that just because a platform exists, it doesn’t mean that you have to use it. Engage with social media to the extent that you want to, and only use the sites that are suited to your business and its needs. The key thing to remember is the same rules apply (refer to the top 4 mistakes preceding this one) – know what your competitors are doing in Social Media, make sure your content is relevant and is a reflection of you. And engagement is key.

Horrific twin in the mirror gif courtesy of……..hmmmmm Where did this gif come from-Is it real? Creepy.
Anyway, Your Social Media Persona is just another version of your brand. No need to be scared. Seriously.

6th Horrific Error: Stop Smiling and Don’t Have Fun!

Now we certainly don’t want to say that Insanity is called for here. But finding the joy in your daily challenges is all part of what helps entrepreneurs make it in their chosen market. Citing one of our team favourites Richard Branson and a post on LinkedIn: ‘Have fun, success will follow’

“If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try something else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance of a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured and your business will flourish. A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life.”
– Richard Branson from his blog Five top tips to starting a successful business

Creepy scary moment courtesy of Batman’s “The Joker” below, he taunts:
“Ha ha ha ha HA! It’s all a joke it’s all a monstrous, demented gag! So why can’t you see the funny side? Why aren’t you laughing?”

These are of course only 6 of the scary errors we’ve come across recently. There are more dangers and pitfalls out there. Make sure to visit our StartUps 101 and Startup Trends sections to help demystify a lot of entrepreneurial topics.

Do you have a scary error to share with us? Please share any of your scary lessons learned in the comment box below. Happy Halloween everyone (and of course, enjoy Guy Fawkes if fireworks do it for you more than the candy!) Personally, I like both.

Published Saturday January 26, 2013