The Time-Sucking Trap: How Small Tasks Can Derail Your Startup’s Success

Startup founders — every minute counts.


Boris Manhart

10 months ago | 3 min read

Startup founders — every minute counts.

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

As a startup founder, you know that every minute counts. Every decision you make and every task you tackle has the potential to impact the success of your business. However, it’s easy to get bogged down in the small tasks and details that can take up significant amounts of time and resources.

Here are the five most underestimated tasks that can hold back your startup’s progress and how to overcome them:

1. Focussing on the wrong customers

Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer, used to help guide product development and marketing efforts. Getting these right from the start is essential, but creating and updating them can be time-consuming. To develop effective personas, start by gathering data about your targeted customer. Use online surveys, customer interviews, and available research data to gather information on their demographics, behavior, motivations, and goals. Use this data to create a detailed portrait of each persona, including their name, age, occupation, and personal characteristics. Then, regularly review and update your personas as you gather more customer data.

2. Talking, not listening

Interviews with potential customers and stakeholders can be valuable for gathering insights and validating your assumptions about your product or service. However, conducting and analyzing these interviews can be time-consuming. To make the most of your interviews, listen more and talk less. Ask open-ended questions and allow the interviewee to share their thoughts and experiences. Then, collect all data in a single data-input sheet to make it easier to analyze and draw insights.

3. Unclear value proposition

A value proposition is a statement that communicates the benefits of your product or service to your target audience. Developing and testing a value proposition can be time-consuming. Consider running a demand test to speed things up to see if your value proposition resonates with potential customers. To do this, create a landing page that explains your value proposition and use targeted online advertising to drive traffic from where your personas are likely to be browsing. Then, analyze the results to see how well your value proposition is resonating. A bonus tip: You will understand to bring traffic to the landing page from research. It’s important to know where your targeted audience gets their information and where they spend their time. Sometimes more than a Facebook campaign is needed, and you need to seek forums, LinkedIn groups, or even distribute flyers.

4. Building the perfect product

An MVP, or minimum viable product, is a version of your product with just enough features to allow you to gather valuable data from early adopters. Determining the suitable feature set for your MVP can lead to many discussions inside the team, but there are ways to streamline the process. One approach is to translate the benefits of your product into specific features and then prioritize them based on customer feedback. For example, if one of the benefits of your product is increased productivity, you might prioritize features that help users complete tasks faster.

5. Scaling too early

It’s natural to want to see your startup grow as quickly as possible, but scaling too early can be a costly mistake. Before expanding, you must ensure you have a product-market fit. To measure this, you can use the Sean Ellis test, which asks current customers if they would be disappointed if they could no longer use your product. You can also look at retention curves to see how well you retain customers over time. If you don’t have a solid product-market fit or low retention rates, it’s probably not the right time to scale.

It is common for startups to spend up to 12 months or more on these tasks, which can significantly drain resources and delay progress toward critical goals.

Therefore, a startup founding team needs to understand what competencies it covers and what needs to be sought outside. You don’t know everything as a founder, and that’s okay. Most of the time, it’s better to invest some money than do trial and error and lose valuable time in the early years of the business.

By the way, I just started my “Product-Market Fit & Beyond” newsletter. By signing up, you will get access to the tools, resources, and expert guidance you need to take your idea to product-market fit and beyond. Sign up here.


Created by

Boris Manhart

I'm a serial entrepreneur and startup advisor at GROWTH UNLTD. Get your startup to product-market fit and beyond:







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