You can’t win the race you don’t start. Don’t let your startup go stagnant on the starting block. Get set. Take a breath. Run.
That momentary worry about not being qualified or enough of an expert to do something can be healthy. Letting it consume you to the point of inaction isn’t.
The Passion Pinch
Following your passion is not enough to achieve success in today’s highly competitive business environment but without it, you’re completely screwed.
Imagine the circus act where a performer sets multiple plates spinning on their hands, shoulders, head, and knees. It’s fun to watch but hard to do.
As a solo founder, you have full control and all the profits, but also all the problems, losses, hardship, investments, footwork, and anxiety—and an increased risk of failure.
A Poor Business Plan
A surprising number of businesses fail simply because they fail to produce a meaningful business plan.
Your choice of industry directly affects your outcome. It’s better to be an idiot in an intelligent industry, than intelligent in an idiot industry.
The Problem-Less Solution
Starting with the solution instead of the actual problem is a real problem. No problems to be solved equals no profits to be gained.
Who knows the cliché “timing is everything”? Like most clichés, this one is true. Understanding your industry gives you great timing insight.
Entrepreneurs have a tendency to think “too big” in early stages of a startup, but many startups fail because the founders think too small too soon.
Cloning usually fails. Copy all you want, and you’ll always be one step behind. Stay original with your startup and let the world copy you.
Founders & CEOs, meet your true boss: your customer. Your customer is in charge and can fire everybody in your company. Pay adequate attention to them.
Not having a Minimal Viable Product makes your startup as likely to succeed as a team without a single Most Valuable Player.
Bogged down by statistics, research, and more? Stop and take a breather. Research is essential to making sound business decisions, but don’t let it stop you from making a decision at all.
Cheating and Ripping People Off
It sounds like a no-brainer, but the temptation to cheat your way to possible success is a real problem in the startup world. Spoiler alert: it never ends well.
If you aren’t independently wealthy with money to burn, funding is something that cannot be ignored when creating a startup.
There is such a thing as “too much money” just as there is “not enough money.” Keeping capital simple is essential. A good startup can get funded. A bad startup can burn through capital.
The Cap-Table Capsize
There are only a few mistakes that cannot be undone. Messing with your cap table is one of those. Be the captain of your cap table.
When it comes to running a business, if you don’t have a background in business accounting, save yourself a lot of time and hassle by finding an expert who can help.
Feature, Not A Company: clever as they might be, a set of product features does not make a company. And you will have to make money someday. Soon.
The Big Bang Release
Releasing products with a bang might sound sexy, but in practice it is dangerous and might end up burning your business.
Mixing two good things does not necessarily make something great. In the world of startups it’s actually quite often the opposite.
Founders fuss about identity. The fact is that most identities do not contribute or impair much. Spend your energy accordingly.
Overcorrecting Success and Failure
Once founders find success with their first startup, it’s easy to believe that the next will be an equal or greater success. Interestingly enough, the opposite is normally true.
The Flawed Founding Team
Surround yourself with people who are smart, hardworking, and fill in your deficits. The best teams are complementary in nature rather than carbon copied.
Not hiring can backfire. Startups often struggle with knowing when and who to hire, and are reluctant to take the next step. Avoiding hiring has dire consequences.
Fearful to fire an employee? Fear not. Startups need all hands on deck and if someone isn’t the right fit, founders need to face their fear and fire.
Startups tend to be lean when it comes to employees. Ignoring accountability can lead a startup straight to failure city.
The Forever CEO
Your startup is your baby. Initially it needs near-constant love and attention. Over time, it may no longer need you. Plan ahead.
If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has plenty more letters. Just keep the alphabetical order, and remember that P, as in Pivoting, comes in at 16th place.
Founders have a lot of things vying for their attention. Not knowing where to focus time and energy and how to differentiate distractions from necessities is deadly.
Decisions are hard, and rank high on the list of reasons for failed startups. Even a correct decision is wrong when made at the wrong time.
Complexity is often in direct opposition to growth. If you find a problem, just fix it—don’t appoint a committee on problems.
Growing Too Fast
Growing pains are a real thing in the rollercoaster of startups. Too fast, too furious will have you crashing and burning in no time.
Giving Up Too Soon
Great companies are built from sweat, tears, and perseverance. Even if everything around you seems to be exploding, keep moving forward.
Not Knowing When to Quit
A fate worse than failing: not quitting. There is a difference between giving up too soon, and rationally knowing that you’ll never arrive.