Working in startups is both a unique and challenging experience. The lows are extremely low and the highs are very high. That’s why I always advise my friends to make the right decision when joining one. I have been lucky to join lots of startups in my short career which helped me do deadly mistakes but learn quickly and adapt.
In a startup, most mistakes and failures are welcomed and encouraged but there are few mistakes which you’d better kill before they grow!
Here are the top 5 mistakes that can kill your startup:
The busy CEO raising money:
Do you know what’s the most boring and time-wasting job in running a startup: Raising Money! So if you can avoid it, please do and focus your energy and time on building your product and achieving your vision.
I have seen many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of raising and trying to satisfy investors needs for so long that they wasted so many opportunities which could have been more valuable than millions of dollars. Don’t make the round a goal in itself! It’s not and should not be.
This does not mean that you should not raise money at all of course! It’s just about timing, if you choose the right timing, you will be able to pitch your business more confidently to investors with acceptable traction, you will be able to get the right amount of money and you will know where to spend it. Always remember the “Atlassian” example; a company which is well known for Jira and Confluence and which bootstrapped its business for eight years and even became profitable then raised their first round of 60M!
Too much planning, too little execution!
“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction” — John F. Kennedy
There is a reason why many of us prefer to be Thinkers, it’s because being a Doer, requires a huge amount of effort and dedication but you have to remember that only the actions you take are what can change your life and the life of others and not your intentions.
So next time you fall into this trap having so many crazy ideas with limited resources(as usual), start by breaking down the ideas into very small chunks, evaluate them, prioritise and take actions.
And yeah most importantly, next time you hear about this famous startup which raised million of pounds, don’t tell your friend that they took your idea because they were doers and you were just a thinker!
Group Thinking everywhere!
Have you been in meetings and continuously noticed that everyone have the same opinion and no disagreement whatsoever on any decision? This should raise your doubt that your company might have a problem of “Group Thinking”!
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony and acceptance results in irrational decision-making. It’s obviously weird when a group of people have series of sessions in which no one challenges a decision or have a counter idea to what’s proposed and in which everyone simply agrees with everyone’s idea.
To be crystal clear, I am not encouraging people to debate for the sake of it, but there has to be a healthy rational discussion and evaluation of different options to reach the best.
Groupthink is one of slowest killers for creativity in a company so don’t treat it lightly!
Founders quit so damn early!
One of the top reasons for the failure of startups is founders who quit in the middle and give up! Building a good product is only a small part of the equation, releasing it to the wild is just another part but building a scalable business takes time.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Airbnb: They started with one room in 2007 and it took them over 3 years to reach any significant number. They reached 1M guest just before 2012!
- Uber: The co-founders worked on the idea from 2008, released a mobile app and put few cars in New York in 2010 and it was not until 2011–2012 that the ideas proved to be a hit and started to flourish.
- MailChimp: The idea started in 2001 but it was not until 2006 that the co-founders started working full-time in it after it reached a level of demand and maturity!
Needless to say, the time between start and success is not for “let’s release this and wait”! It’s a hard time of going out to the market, validating assumptions, trying different ideas and pivoting until product-market fit.
So before you decide that you want to build your own startup, make sure you are ready for 5+ years of battle at least. Of course, there have been cases when things have boomed in shorter periods but these are edge cases and definitely not the norm.
Not learning how to learn!
This is one of the main missions and the reason why I am building Knowledge Officer because I believe that the web has become very noisy and it became very hard to find good quality content that’s not necessarily ads driven, viral or fresh!
It’s very common to see startups committing the same mistakes other companies have been doing for years just because they don’t read or learn from the past. Most startups are nowadays isolated and living in their blob without giving enough attention to the shared lessons and what they can learn from others.
At Knowledge Officer, We believe that every company in the world needs a platform for knowledge discovery to work smarter, faster and share their experience.
Have any other startup serial killers to share? please let know.