Home » Industry » How Far Can You Go Wrong? [column]

How badly can you get it wrong and still turn around your company by getting it right in the end. Often your product and marketing may go through several iterations before you get a model that works.

Do you remember the Facebook banner ads that used to run? Of course you don’t. Or when Google first started to explode and could not get their results out “instantly”.

They had a model that was less than ideal but managed to fix it in time before oblivion swallowed them.

People gloss over their failings when they portray their company image to the public. It is easy to think it was amazing all the time.

Forget the late nights. Forget the poor cash flow. Forget that you ever got it wrong and nearly missed the market.

It is hard to learn sometimes from a success story that always puts on its best face. So if you are struggling to get it together with your start-up take heart from the fact that all the greats have been there and there may be hope yet.

There are however a few big issues that will give you a poor chance of recovery if you get them wrong.

Bad hiring decisions are one of these. An employee with a bad attitude sucks the life out of your company and can destroy the most positive company culture. The ideas that create company culture do not just flow from the top down like a waterfall, rather the spread of ideas and their growth flows everywhere like a tree.

One bad egg nestled in the roots of your organisation can blow all the way to the top and poison the entire company. Not only that in most cases it is really hard to dismiss an employee, not to mention costly. Hire carefully and consider your choice wisely, especially if you are expanding rapidly.

Product direction is hard to recover from if you go wrong.

If you going to be an online directory it is hard to become a social media site unless you build that in from the beginning.

It is hard to shift once you are in an established direction. There are a few examples in history of two major competitors going head to head over product direction: Blu-Ray and HD D being a big one in recent times.

Linked to product direction is often a total misunderstanding of the rational and irrational behaviour of your clients. Making a computer that does not integrate with previous versions of your product is likely to annoy the most loyal of clients and cause your demise as it did in the case of Commodore computers.

Facebook tried Facebook Home more recently, trying to make itself the home screen on your phone.

Turns out that while people like the connectivity of Facebook they like having a bit more control over their home screens, with Big Brother type thoughts at the back of consumer minds it failed rather rapidly.

In many cases you can get away with the consequences from having made a bad decision. You just have to make a better one to turn things around.

The important thing is to make a new decision. Running a business is a marathon not a sprint, occasionally there will be rough ground.

Just keep running, get back onto even ground and you will survive. Sitting with your head in the sand, choosing to ignore the massive mountain that you are flying into because of your poor choice, that attitude will sink you faster than the Titanic.

Offer a bad customer service long enough without changing it and people will stop using your product.

Fix it and well you may get a few extra clients. I had ADSL installed this week by a company that had become synonymous (in my mind anyway) with poor service.

They pitched up within 24 hours and did the job effectively and went beyond the call of duty in doing so.

That simple act of efficiency has changed my impression of them as far as client relations goes. Clearly they have fixed something in the way things are done. There are other reasons your product or business could fail, you can get outstripped by technology (remember VHS anyone).

A competitor could beat you to the punch and leave you chasing them forever (think any number of tablets that have tried chasing the iPad).

Hiring, product direction, and being aware of what is happening around you falls directly under your control.

You make the call on these decisions, there is no one else to blame if you get them wrong.

Source : The Herald