You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

5 Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Launch Don't let your genius product idea crash to Earth due to an avoidable marketing gaff. Heed this list and achieve lift off.

By Phil La Duke

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock | Enhanced by Entrepreneur

Some great ideas immediately catch on -- like fire (which, while I wasn't there, I gotta believe was immediately popular) or iTunes (a million songs sold in the first weekend, remember?). Other great ideas never quite get there, like Betamax or the metric system. And while there is no telling what will catch the collective consumer's attention and excitement, there are plenty of ways to screw up a good thing. There are several big and damaging mistakes that companies big and small make when launching a new offering.

Related: Jay Z's Faltering Streaming Service Is a Case Study in Failure-to-Launch Syndrome

Mistake #1: Too narrow a focus.

It can be frustrating to be an entrepreneur who has a product idea that everyone praises as money in the bank, only to face a bland, non-reaction from consumers. Some flops are high profile, like Segway's initial refusal to sell to the general public, preferring instead to focus on mail carriers. (When was the last time you saw a mail carrier on a Segway?) When the product was introduced, Steve Jobs and others hailed it as one of the most important inventions of the twentieth century. People talked about the Segway changing the way cities were built.

Mistake #2: Identity crisis.

Some ideas take time to develop, and sadly they cannot be rushed. This often leads entrepreneurs to rebrand the offering as something else, and when that doesn't work they rebrand it again and again, until the consumer is so confused that they wouldn't take the offering if it were given to them.

Related: The Ultimate Rebranding Checklist for Entrepreneurs

Mistake #3: Death by improvement.

I won't call out any social networking sites by name (they know who they are), but let's just say that the leading social network and the leading business networking sites have "improved" themselves to the brink of destruction. Every day I hear from people leaving sites because they were completely happy with the product the way it was, and how too often, in order to "improve," the site dropped or dumbed down popular features. Improvement?

Mistake #4: Death by complacency.

Even people old enough to remember sites like MySpace or America Online probably have only a dim memory of those sites because which they were quick to abandon them for Facebook and others that came to dominate the electronic landscape. AOL (the rebranded too little too late poster child) waited too long to acquiesce to what it's members wanted, and I'm not sure MySpace even tried to compete. Sometimes when the going gets tough the tough take their ball and go home, I guess.

Related: How Steve Case Is Preparing for the Web's Third Wave

Mistake #5: Quitting too soon.

When you have invested hard-earned dollars, time, and sweat into an offering, it's easy to get impatient and want to see a return on that investment now. But as I mentioned, some ideas take time to mature before becoming familiar to the buying public. For years IBM sales people sold what were by many people's standards over-priced and underperforming equipment simply by intimating that "no one ever got fired for buying IBM." Early adopters still represent a very small percentage of many markets and if you have something truly innovative and fresh you will likely have to be patient before your offering takes off.

Phil La Duke


Phil La Duke is a speaker and writer. Find his books at Twitter @philladuke

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.


Save on Business Travel with Matt's Flight's Premium, Only $80 for Life

This premium plan features customized flight deal alerts and one-on-one planning with Matt himself.

Science & Technology

Here's One Reason Urban Transportation Won't Look the Same in a Decade

Micro-EVs may very well be the future of city driving. Here's why, and how investors can get ahead of it.

Health & Wellness

Do You Want to Live to Be 100? This Researcher Has the Answer to Why Longevity is Not a Quick Fix or Trendy Diet

Ozempic, cold plunges, sobriety and the latest health fads are not what science reveals will help you live a longer and healthier life.

Data & Recovery

Better Communicate Data with Your Team for $20 with Microsoft Visio

Visio features a wide range of diagramming tools that can support projects across all industries.