Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – What Are The Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Starting A New Business?
Today, we had the opportunity to interview Alison Arnoff who is a Executive Coach/ Startup Accelerator Executive Director at Dare 2 Be Coaching.
Interviewee Name: Alison Arnoff
Company: Dare 2 Be Coaching
Alison Arnoff’s favourite quote: Life is not a spectator sport
Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?
Alison Arnoff : I spent 30 years in the tech industry from engineer to sales to leadership including 7 startups and 6 exits, 4 got acquired and 2 had an IPO and went public. I left corporate to work as a VC as an analyst evaluating new companies for investment. I am also a strategy consultant for sales and marketing strategies for tech startups and am an executive coach for tech leaders, helping them increase their impact as leaders.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out? Any examples?
Alison Arnoff : Dare 2 Be Coaching was founded on the principle that the journey as a leader can be lonely and everyone needs a challenger and champion to help them on their journey. It was born on the idea that founder Alison’s journey in tech was more difficult than it needed to be, so she is now the resource she wishes she had during her career. My clients tell me I changed their lives, no better testimonial than that. I have also been an analyst for a VC and am also currently the Executive Director for the Startup Accelerator at CoFounders Lab. As a former Division 1 athlete, adventure traveler, shark diver and near-death survivor including learning to walk again, my resilience and fearlessness makes me a powerful resource for my clients.
What are the TOP 5 mistakes people make when starting a new business? Please share advice/examples for all of them.
Alison Arnoff : 1. Building a product the market doesn’t want It is fantastic that you have an idea for a company. But that idea is just a hypothesis until you validate it with the market. Once you have your idea, you need to do market research. Is this a problem the market cares about? And does your solution address the problem in a simple to use straightforward manner. Identify who are the ideal clients for your product and survey them with questions that are not confirmation bias driven. Then broaden your research as much as possible through surveys or more interviews to get a clear understanding on what the market really wants, versus what you think they want.
2. Being too in love with their idea that they are not willing to do the market research and pivot based on the research results. This is an extension of number 1. If a founder is so in love with their idea that they are not willing to be flexible and pivot based on the market data, inflexibility will limit the success of a company. Don’t be so attached to your idea that you don’t listen to the market and adjust accordingly.
3. Run out of money. You need enough money to get to revenue and before your day job. I love founders that are so excited to get started. However some quit their job too soon, they hire a lot of people and run out of money before they get to revenue. Do not quit your day job until you have enough money to live for 12-18 months, make sure you have a clear understanding of your spend and how long the money you have will last, and don’t grow the company too fast with hiring beyond what is truly necessary to get you to revenue, including using fractional employees, equity based hiring with a vesting period and maybe college interns.
4. Not understanding the difference between acquiring early adopters versus building a scalable growing business. You will always find people that like to be on the cutting edge, try new things and untested companies. This could give you a false sense that you have the right messaging and the right strategy. Early adopters and mainstream clients are different. This goes back to your market research. Ask in your questions in surveys about their comfort with new products or if they are more conservative in their approach. Understand the differences between their buyer personas. And make sure to get testimonials and ROI data from your early adopters to use to market to your mainstream customers.
5. Not being coachable – there are a lot of really smart people out there with experience. If you, as a founder, are not willing to listen and learn, you are most likely to flounder and maybe fail. When I worked at the VC, we had a lot of young arrogant people come in that did not respect the collective over 120 years of experience in the room and they were not open to ideas. Those people did not get funding from us. While you do not have to take all advice given to you, surround yourself with people who challenge you and give you new ideas and perspectives, be receptive and take time to consider all ideas to show you are coachable and willing to learn and grow.
Leaders Perception magaizne would like to thank Alison Arnoff for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!
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