There has never been a better time to start a robotics business. Robots have been around long enough that you can easily find parts and support, but not so long that the market is saturated. If you have an idea for a robotics business, now is the perfect time to pursue it.
Before rushing into building your startup, however, there are a few things you should consider. No matter how desirable a market climate is, starting a business is a complicated and challenging undertaking. Of the millions of small businesses that start up each year, only half will survive beyond five years.
It may help to see what other robotics companies have done well. It’s even more helpful to understand where the failed ones went wrong. If you’re going to start a robotics business, avoid these seven common pitfalls.
1. Go too fast
Setting deadlines is a great way to stay motivated and productive. Just make sure your deadlines are reasonable. Too many robotics startups rush to release their product without spending the necessary time ironing out all the little details.
Robots are delicate machines, so it is worth spending time mastering them. Starting a robotics business is not just about making robots. It’s a mistake to try to manage product development, financial management, and legal paperwork all at once.
Even after launch, understand that it will take time to start earning a significant amount of money. Don’t be lazy, but don’t overwork yourself either. Acting too quickly will result in losses greater than anything you have to gain.
2. Having too broad a vision
The robot market may not be saturated, but it is still considerable. You need your robots to stand out in the crowd, and that requires specific vision. What problem does your robot solve and how does it do it better than any other option?
It’s not realistic to make a robot that everyone will buy. You need to identify a specific niche audience and create something that meets their needs. Even then, you need to specify what sets your bots apart from the competition.
Are you making a robot for factory work? What sets you apart from the abundance of robotic arms in the manufacturing industry? Identify a need within your target audience and work to meet it.
3. Rushing into hardware
If you’re starting a robotics business, you probably want to start making robots right away. Believe it or not, this is a mistake. Save your resources and save material building for later.
Why shouldn’t you start working with hardware as soon as possible? It’s expensive, and robots are complicated. You need to fix any issues with your design before you start spending on materials.
You will probably go through several models before having your final product. If you build physical versions of each, you’ll burn some cash fast. Don’t mess with your robots’ hardware until you are confident in your design and have more capital.
4. Wait to make connections
You may want to wait to engage with consumers and investors until you have a finished product. It may seem like a leap, but making connections early is crucial for your startup. If you don’t, your robotics business will almost certainly fail.
Talking with potential customers helps you see what their needs are. This information will help you create a more marketable robot. These conversations also help you establish your name in the industry before you market your product.
It is also essential to connect with investors early on. To build your business, you need capital, and capital comes from investors.
5. Turning to too many investors
As you talk to these investors, make sure you don’t turn to too many of them. You need investments, but you also need to have control of your business. You have to walk a fine line between getting capital and staying in power.
Accredited investors typically have a net worth of over $1 million, but they always invest their own money in your business. Because they manage their personal bank accounts, they will likely want their investment to match their desires. This can cause investors to try to push your business in a direction you don’t want.
Your robotics business is your dream. Bringing in too many investors can take that dream away from you. Look to investors, but not so much that you lose control of your own business.
6. Focus on progress rather than profitability
When securing investors, don’t let the money go to your head. Once investors have given you an advance, it can be tempting to start spending faster. Don’t let a few commas in the bank account stop you from doing a profitable business.
Robots are expensive machines. You can quickly burn a lead in this sector, so don’t think a big check will make you invincible. Focus on profitability, no matter how much money comes in.
Big money is good, but it’s not what keeps your business alive. Keeping costs low and maximizing profits is how you will survive.
7. Not documenting everything
When you start out, you might think you can keep track of everything in your head. You will quickly find that this is not true. You need to document everything that happens in your business, from profits to losses to failed ventures.
Details that seem small now may matter more later. You have too much to do to be able to remember everything. It also helps to get used to keeping records, so you’ll be ready when your business takes off.
As your robotics business grows in size and value, you will need to start documenting everything. Why wait? Start accounting now, even if it means hiring staff to do it.
Start cautiously and build slowly
Robotics is a multi-billion dollar industry, so you have a lot of profit potential. To survive in this business, however, you’ll need to start cautiously. Don’t fall into the same mistakes as failed startups in the past.
If there’s a common thread running through all of this advice, it’s that building a business takes time. You won’t achieve success overnight, so why shoot for it? If you tread carefully and build your business slowly, your robotics business could be the next big thing.