Sunday, December 3, 2023

The top 10 mistakes that kill startups


Being an entrepreneur and having your own business doesn't mean you know everything. There is always going to be something more to learn or improve. This is normal; after all, you are still a normal human being. But you made it so far, and now you have your company to take care of. There are a couple of things that many entrepreneurs forget when they get blinded by their success. Keep reading this article and see the top 10 mistakes you should avoid.

Not being focused on your main idea

You had a great idea, and you built a company around it. Investors backed you up, and now it is up to you to take this idea to the next level. However, you might lose focus and decide that there are so many other great ideas out there to explore. This is true, but you can do it all at the same time. Entrepreneurs and will never run out of ideas. Perhaps one of them can lead to even bigger success. However, do you really have the time and the resources you need to invest in it? 

In the beginning, startups were usually small companies with very limited resources. Not only in terms of budget but also human resources. More often than not, you can't take away development resources from your main project to work on a side one without jeopardizing your company. Your investors gave their money based on a business plan you presented to them initially. If you don't follow it, they might take the funding away. 

When you have many new ideas, write them down with all the details. Take a week or two of a break from that idea and if once you go back to it, you still think it is a great one, and you can do it, then make a clear plan and go ahead. But if you see that it will be too time-consuming and you have no resources available for it with a clear mind, better leave it aside for the moment. 

Being a single founder

It is very tricky to be a single founder. All the pressure will be on your shoulders, and it will be very stressful. You might say that you work better alone or you don't want someone to challenge your decisions all the time. But having a partner means you will have someone you can trust to help you make the right decisions and overcome the challenging moments. 

The saying “two heads are better than one” is true. A different point of view can be just the thing you need. On top of that, you will have a person who wants the same as you – your company will succeed and be ready to give everything for it. 

Not doing your planning right

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As an entrepreneur, you should take care of many things simultaneously. You should think about every aspect and know what should be done. Each team and even each person in your startup will seek your help and guidance. How would you be able to do all this? The answer is – good planning.

The key to success is to manage to prioritize your tasks and also to be able to plan your time well. When you have a job that should be executed, instead of estimating how much time it will take you all together, break it into smaller ones and try to set deadlines for them. Estimating the time needed for smaller tasks is much more accurate. Like this, your planning will be easier to stick to.

Hiring the wrong people

The people you will work with will be a significant part of your success. They can either help you achieve your goals easier and faster or take you and your company down. This is why it is vital to choose your team carefully, especially in the beginning. 

Many entrepreneurs are neglecting the power of HR. Getting an experienced HR manager is one of the first things you should do. You will come with a general idea of what positions you need to feel in, but the HR person will help you find the right people for them. More importantly, this person will make sure that your people feel fine in the company and help resolve any personal or career troubles. 

Underestimating competitors

You have already done your market research, and in your business plan, you included information about your competitors and why you are better than them. You have, of , smaller and bigger competitors. You might believe that the smaller ones will be easy to beat because you have new and better ideas and funding to back you up. Or that the bigger ones that are the major players on the market already had their fair share, and now a new player will outrank them easily. But this is not true.

Overestimating your competitors is one of the worst things you can do. No matter big or small, they won their place on the market, and they won't give it up easily. You learned a lot about the market and what you should do from your competitors, but they will do the same. They will follow you and study you. They will also steal your ideas. So, don't say, “They will never be able to do it our way,” because they will be. It might take time, but they will. 

Not taking risks

Not everything will go according to your plan, and in these moments, you will have to make some tough decisions. And some of them might involve taking some risks. 

It is normal to get nervous or be unsure what you should do, but don't let fear stop you. You will need to learn a lot initially, and the trial and error method may be the best one. So, whenever you need to make a decision, and even if it seems that what you want to do is risky – don't stop yourself from doing it. Risks often payout, and they might bring you even a better outcome. 

Not saying “No”

You should know when to draw the line. As mentioned in the point above, taking risks is good, but knowing when the risk is too significant and just saying “No” is vital. You can't make everyone happy, so if you are asked to do something you don't believe in, or you think it won't be beneficial for the company is better to say what you really think. Maybe the idea is excellent but just not a fit for your company, or the timing isn't right.

Not accepting help

Being a boss is something that no one is completely prepared for. It is hard to know what excitedly you should do – manage your people, help in development, be an accountant, or any of the other million tasks you have on your plate. And most entrepreneurs have a hard time letting go of part of this power and acknowledging they need help. 

Consider hiring professional help for the areas that you don't have that much experience in or don't have enough time to invest in them. You can also, in the beginning, use the services of a professional business consultant. Such professionals will teach you how to manage everything better and achieve your goals faster.

Spending too much

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When you receive your initial funding, it is tempting to invest more than originally planned. You might think that spending more will lead to success faster, and the money you will make after that will compensate for the spending. In rare cases, this might happen, but very rare. 

Don't overspend just because you can, and you think this will bring you to the next level faster. Don't go too crazy in hiring people, paying too big salaries, getting a huge office with the latest technology equipment, etc. Make a budget plan and stick to it as much as possible. It is better to have more savings that you can use at the right moment.

Asking too much from your team

You are the founder of a new startup, and, understandably, you are ready to give all you can for it. There will be sleepless nights, a lot of stress, not having much free time, and other sacrifices you will have to make, but you know why you are doing them. You are investing yourself in something that is yours, and if it succeeds, it will bring you a lot of benefits. Many of your employees will also be ready to invest themselves and make some sacrifices for the company, but don't expect them to do as much as you are willing to. 

Don't ask too much of your people because it can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction. Consider that they might not be willing to work on holidays but prefer to be with their families or stay every night till 10 pm in front of their computers. Give them the break they need, and never forget to appreciate their commitment and efforts. 

Final thoughts

It is hard to say what exactly is the thing that can make or break a startup. And most probably is not one thing, but if you try to avoid the most common mistakes, you will reduce the risk of failure. Give your best to your company and your employees, and success won't be late to follow.

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Gabriela Gavrailova
Gabriela Gavrailova
Gabriela is a freelance writer at Tech Edition, where she writes about technology and often does listicles and product reviews. Based in Austria, Gabriela is a person with many and diverse hobbies. If you don't find her reading a book at home or baking something, she will probably be out hiking or taking some classes to learn a new skill.

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