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20MISTAKES
THAT KILL
STARTUPS
ACCORDING TO EXPERTS
Getting distracted by different ideas
Startups don’t really have a lack of growth ideas - but a lack of resources (money, time, human
resources) to put them into action. So when you come up with an idea that sounds great, have a
plan of action:
Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
Turning really interesting
ideas and fledging ideas
into a company that can
continue to innovate for
years,it requires a lot of
discipline.
wait one week
revisit your idea in a week’s time
use trello cards
document your thought process
give yourself some room
give yourself concrete assignments
Helprace
ve Jobs, Apple co-founder
Turning really interesting
ideas and fledging ideas
into a company that can
continue to innovate for
years,it requires a lot of
discipline.
Helprace
“
StevStev
None or poor planning skills
Alan Lakein, author
Planning is bringing the
future ino the present so
that you can do something
about it now.
they scale up too early
many startups think of growth, not execution
they have no business plan
a business plan helps manage risk
they are unable to pivot
be aware of customer and market forces
Now that you have an idea - how do you plan on executing it? Many startups lack vital planning
skills and end up being stuck in an perpetual entreprenurial vacuum. Here’s why:
Helprace
n Lakein, author
Planning is bringing the
future ino the present so
that you can do something
about it now.
Helprace
“AlanAlan
Downplaying the importance of design
Dieter Rams, designer
Good design is making
something intelligible and
memorable. Great design
is making something
memorable and
meaningful.
increases conversions
good design tends to increase conversions
makes customers remember you
user experiences stay on people’s minds longer
is better accessibility, usablity
unclear execution can lose you customers
Successful businesses spend a lion’s share on website design, how-to and intro videos. Why?
It’s just that important in order to maintain a competitive advantage.
good design...
Helprace
er Rams, designer
Good design is making
something intelligible and
memorable. Great design
is making something
memorable and
meaningful.
Helprace
“DieteDiete
Not investing in team culture
Sam Walton, Walmart founder
If people believe in them-
selves, it’s amazing what
they can accomplish.
Culture, especially in a startup environment, is more than a virtual watercooler and a beer
fridge. Attracting, keeping and growing the best talent requires investing time and money.
establish a clear company goal
what do you stand for? what do you offer others?
set what your team works for
everyone should feel part of something great
introduce team-building activities
build on employee relationships and personalities
Helprace
m Walton, Walmart founder
If people believe in them-
selves, it’s amazing what
they can accomplish.
Helprace
“SamSam
Forgetting about due dilligence
Ken Robinson, author
choosing the wrong partner
a mismatch in vision can kill many startups
investor, founder disharmony
aligning finances and direction is essential
not having any mentors
timely advice can pay for itself many times
In the end, your success depends on doing due dilligence which goes way past pre-meeting
preparation. Not only working with the wrong people - just listening to bad advice can set you on
the wrong path:
Human resources are like
natural resources, they’re
often buried deep. You
have to go looking for
them; they’re not lying on
the surface.
Helprace
Robinson, author
Human resources are like
natural resources, they’re
often buried deep. You
have to go looking for
them; they’re not lying on
the surface.
Helprace
“KenKen
Being too careful about taking risks
An entreprenuraial life isn’t for the faint of heart - it’s fraught with trial-and-error and experiment
based approaches to tackling problems. These personality flaws that can hurt your startup:
Enrico Fermi, nuclear physicist
I am a man of principle,
and one of my basic
principles is flexibility.
inflexibility
inability to see ahead or read between the lines
lacking passion and expertise
having interest and know-how is important
more thinking, less taking action
indecisiveness and procascination can hurt you
Helprace
co Fermi, nuclear physicist
I am a man of principle,
and one of my basic
principles is flexibility.
Helprace
“EnricEnric
Dismissing business coaching
For athletes, coaches provide invaluable direction. For startups, they break down responsibilities
in manageable chunks. Most importantly, coaches give you much needed outside perspective:
Paul Hawken, entrepreneur, author
process optimization
helps build a reliable, scaleable business
team accountability
coaching helps in setting team direction
business synergy
align team, business and customer goals
Good management is the
art of making problems so
interesting and their solu-
tions so constructive that
everyone wants to get to
work...
Helprace
l Hawken, entrepreneur, author
Good management is the
art of making problems so
interesting and their solu-
tions so constructive that
everyone wants to get to
work...
Helprace
“PaulPaul
Not knowing when/how to say no
Startup owners need to stick to their guns and learn to say no to partners, customers, and
prospects. When you don’t know how to say no, you’re not showing leadership.
Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
It’s only by saying ‘no’ that
you can concentrate on
the things that are really
important.
keep all options open
yet reject those that diverge from your core values
don’t try to please everyone
are you selling to consumers or enterprises?
create a plan and stick to it
it makes deviating from it (saying no) much harder
Helprace
ve Jobs, Apple co-founder
It’s only by saying ‘no’ that
you can concentrate on
the things that are really
important.
Helprace
“
StevStev
Ruling out out professional help
Founders are usually forced to be the jack of all trades in a startup. This is a poor use of their
time - sometimes certain tasks should be delegated to competent professionals.
Lee Iacocca, automotive CEO
I hire people brighter than
me and then I get out of
their way.
CTOs and program managers
to set out tasks and goals for the team
accountants and bookkeepers
to take care of taxes and finances
consider trimming the fat
hire freelancers, avoid costly SaaS tools
Helprace
Iacocca, automotive CEO
I hire people brighter than
me and then I get out of
their way.
Helprace
“LeeLee
Spending money before you’re ready
Unless you have generous investors, spending lots of money should be out of the question
before you’re making any significant profit. Sometimes the right financial advisor or consultant
is what you need. In either case, avoid:
Warren Buffett, investor
If you buy things you do
not need, soon you will
have to sell the things you
actually need.
hiring before you’re ready
people are crucial but can also drain finances
non-measurable outreach
keep track of your marketing, pr, branding efforts
keeping an expensive office
fancy equimpent, coffee machines, admin costs
Helprace
ren Buffett, investor
If you buy things you do
not need, soon you will
have to sell the things you
actually need.
Helprace
“WarrWarr
Settling on a wrong form of investment
Lenders see startups as risky because they have an unproven product, little to no collateral to
secure a loan or gurantees to pay it off. Startups also put themselves at a disadvantage by:
Robert Kiyosaki, author, investor
It’s not how much money
you make, but how much
you keep, how hard it
works for you and how
many generations you
keep it for.
not taking care of their books
proper accounting helps in fair valuation, too
failing to keep legal stuff in order
take care of taxes, work contracts, legal documents
asking even though they don’t have to
settling for wrong sources of funding is dangerous
Helprace
ert Kiyosaki, author, investor
It’s not how much money
you make, but how much
you keep, how hard it
works for you and how
many generations you
keep it for.
Helprace
“RobeRobe
Failing to establish a competitive advantage
Don’t be afraid to enter a cometitive industry. Competition only means there’s a good market
for your product. Aside from solving non-existent problems, here’s why startups fail:
Jack Welch, General Electric CEO
If you don’t have a
competitiven advantage,
don’t compete.
no product/market fit
doing too little research on what users want
no competitive analysis
increases vulnerability to market changes
not being ready to pivot
allow yourself to pursue other niche projects
Helprace
k Welch, General Electric CEO
If you don’t have a
competitiven advantage,
don’t compete.
Helprace
“JackJack
Ignoring the onboarding process
Everything from your marketing copy to how-to articles and media should be used to facilitate
easier discovery and usage of your product. Keep watch on these onboarding components:
Beth Comstock, GE vice chair
Marketing’s job is never
done. It’s about perpetual
motion. We must
continue to innovate
every day.
introduction process
intro videos, infographics, encourages sign up
welcome process
ease of setting up, instructions, user friendliness
functionality highlights
getting users to stick around once they’re set up
Helprace
h Comstock, GE vice chair
Marketing’s job is never
done. It’s about perpetual
motion. We must
continue to innovate
every day.
Helprace
“BethBeth
Inability to disassociate yourself when needed
There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Since business life demands we invest
ourselves - it’s often difficult to remove your personal feelings from your business.
Nouman Ali Khan, public speaker
If someone corrects you,
and you feel offended,
then you have an ego
problem.
too big of an ego
being confident is good, overconfidence is not
shortsighted approaches
unable to understand long-term outcomes
having tunnel vision
avoid shutting yourself off from other options
Helprace
man Ali Khan, public speaker
If someone corrects you,
and you feel offended,
then you have an ego
problem.
Helprace
“NoumNoum
Failing to leverage existing strengths
Every startup has inherent strengths you can use as leverage. It involves taking something
that you have at your disposal and applying minimal energy to gain actionable results.
Henry Ford, Ford Motor Co. founder
The man who will use his
skill and constructive
imagination to see how
much he can give for a
dollar is bound to succeed.
smaller email lists
easier to send out personalized material
specialization, time-to-market
small size can be a competitive advantage
faster experimentation process
smaller customer base or changes required
Helprace
ry Ford, Ford Motor Co. founder
The man who will use his
skill and constructive
imagination to see how
much he can give for a
dollar is bound to succeed.
Helprace
“HenrHenr
Rejecting experiment-based approaches
What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another. Experimentation is sometimes
the only way to come to meaningful conclusions that are able to drive growth:
Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet
All life is an experiment.
The more experiments you
make, the better.
set out what you want to discover
have data to measure and set a hypothesis
keep optimizing your experiment
examine how/what factors act on it
a/b testing and control group testing
see what attracts more visits or conversions
Helprace
ph Waldo Emerson, poet
All life is an experiment.
The more experiments you
make, the better.
Helprace
“RalpRalp
Not learning from past mistakes
Only about half of new businesses survive for five years or more - meaning new entrepreneurs
are likely to be former entrepreneurs. According to MIT research:
Harold J. Smith, writer, actor
Most people would learn
from their mistakes if they
weren’t so busy denying
them.
we don’t learn from failure
our brains remember successes, not failure
we learn from our successes
what worked before and what could work better
survival rates change little over time
technology startups are not better than others
Helprace
old J. Smith, writer, actorr
Most people would learn
from their mistakes if they
weren’t so busy denying
them.
Helprace
“HaroHaro
Focusing on wrong marketing channels
Marketing is all about matching the product with the customer. Not marketing properly can
quickly drain you - so avoid these three biggest marketing pitfalls:
Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur
Marketing is no longer
about the stuff that you
make, but about the
stories you tell.
no strategy or marketing at all
start small and expand on what works
failing to track your results
focus on Google Analytics, PPC, SMM, etc.
ignoring what competitors are doing
know how your competitors attract customers
Helprace
h Godin, author, entrepreneur
Marketing is no longer
about the stuff that you
make, but about the
stories you tell.
Helprace
“SethSeth
Not managing time effectively
When your day isn’t planned out, you end up spending money on crisis management instead of
creating or producing. Keep these time management habits in mind:
Stephen Covey, educator, author
Time management is a
misnomer, the challenge is
to manage ourselves.
the most effective use of time is
customer development & networking, not product
time is money, don’t waste it
pay professionals who do things better than you
stretching your time thin is wasteful
burning out and overworking can lead to failure
Helprace
phen Covey, educator, author
Time management is a
misnomer, the challenge is
to manage ourselves.
Helprace
“StepStep

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20 Deadly Mistakes That Kill Startups (According to Experts)

  • 2. Getting distracted by different ideas Startups don’t really have a lack of growth ideas - but a lack of resources (money, time, human resources) to put them into action. So when you come up with an idea that sounds great, have a plan of action: Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder Turning really interesting ideas and fledging ideas into a company that can continue to innovate for years,it requires a lot of discipline. wait one week revisit your idea in a week’s time use trello cards document your thought process give yourself some room give yourself concrete assignments Helprace ve Jobs, Apple co-founder Turning really interesting ideas and fledging ideas into a company that can continue to innovate for years,it requires a lot of discipline. Helprace “ StevStev
  • 3. None or poor planning skills Alan Lakein, author Planning is bringing the future ino the present so that you can do something about it now. they scale up too early many startups think of growth, not execution they have no business plan a business plan helps manage risk they are unable to pivot be aware of customer and market forces Now that you have an idea - how do you plan on executing it? Many startups lack vital planning skills and end up being stuck in an perpetual entreprenurial vacuum. Here’s why: Helprace n Lakein, author Planning is bringing the future ino the present so that you can do something about it now. Helprace “AlanAlan
  • 4. Downplaying the importance of design Dieter Rams, designer Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful. increases conversions good design tends to increase conversions makes customers remember you user experiences stay on people’s minds longer is better accessibility, usablity unclear execution can lose you customers Successful businesses spend a lion’s share on website design, how-to and intro videos. Why? It’s just that important in order to maintain a competitive advantage. good design... Helprace er Rams, designer Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful. Helprace “DieteDiete
  • 5. Not investing in team culture Sam Walton, Walmart founder If people believe in them- selves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. Culture, especially in a startup environment, is more than a virtual watercooler and a beer fridge. Attracting, keeping and growing the best talent requires investing time and money. establish a clear company goal what do you stand for? what do you offer others? set what your team works for everyone should feel part of something great introduce team-building activities build on employee relationships and personalities Helprace m Walton, Walmart founder If people believe in them- selves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. Helprace “SamSam
  • 6. Forgetting about due dilligence Ken Robinson, author choosing the wrong partner a mismatch in vision can kill many startups investor, founder disharmony aligning finances and direction is essential not having any mentors timely advice can pay for itself many times In the end, your success depends on doing due dilligence which goes way past pre-meeting preparation. Not only working with the wrong people - just listening to bad advice can set you on the wrong path: Human resources are like natural resources, they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them; they’re not lying on the surface. Helprace Robinson, author Human resources are like natural resources, they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them; they’re not lying on the surface. Helprace “KenKen
  • 7. Being too careful about taking risks An entreprenuraial life isn’t for the faint of heart - it’s fraught with trial-and-error and experiment based approaches to tackling problems. These personality flaws that can hurt your startup: Enrico Fermi, nuclear physicist I am a man of principle, and one of my basic principles is flexibility. inflexibility inability to see ahead or read between the lines lacking passion and expertise having interest and know-how is important more thinking, less taking action indecisiveness and procascination can hurt you Helprace co Fermi, nuclear physicist I am a man of principle, and one of my basic principles is flexibility. Helprace “EnricEnric
  • 8. Dismissing business coaching For athletes, coaches provide invaluable direction. For startups, they break down responsibilities in manageable chunks. Most importantly, coaches give you much needed outside perspective: Paul Hawken, entrepreneur, author process optimization helps build a reliable, scaleable business team accountability coaching helps in setting team direction business synergy align team, business and customer goals Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solu- tions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work... Helprace l Hawken, entrepreneur, author Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solu- tions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work... Helprace “PaulPaul
  • 9. Not knowing when/how to say no Startup owners need to stick to their guns and learn to say no to partners, customers, and prospects. When you don’t know how to say no, you’re not showing leadership. Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. keep all options open yet reject those that diverge from your core values don’t try to please everyone are you selling to consumers or enterprises? create a plan and stick to it it makes deviating from it (saying no) much harder Helprace ve Jobs, Apple co-founder It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. Helprace “ StevStev
  • 10. Ruling out out professional help Founders are usually forced to be the jack of all trades in a startup. This is a poor use of their time - sometimes certain tasks should be delegated to competent professionals. Lee Iacocca, automotive CEO I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way. CTOs and program managers to set out tasks and goals for the team accountants and bookkeepers to take care of taxes and finances consider trimming the fat hire freelancers, avoid costly SaaS tools Helprace Iacocca, automotive CEO I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way. Helprace “LeeLee
  • 11. Spending money before you’re ready Unless you have generous investors, spending lots of money should be out of the question before you’re making any significant profit. Sometimes the right financial advisor or consultant is what you need. In either case, avoid: Warren Buffett, investor If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell the things you actually need. hiring before you’re ready people are crucial but can also drain finances non-measurable outreach keep track of your marketing, pr, branding efforts keeping an expensive office fancy equimpent, coffee machines, admin costs Helprace ren Buffett, investor If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell the things you actually need. Helprace “WarrWarr
  • 12. Settling on a wrong form of investment Lenders see startups as risky because they have an unproven product, little to no collateral to secure a loan or gurantees to pay it off. Startups also put themselves at a disadvantage by: Robert Kiyosaki, author, investor It’s not how much money you make, but how much you keep, how hard it works for you and how many generations you keep it for. not taking care of their books proper accounting helps in fair valuation, too failing to keep legal stuff in order take care of taxes, work contracts, legal documents asking even though they don’t have to settling for wrong sources of funding is dangerous Helprace ert Kiyosaki, author, investor It’s not how much money you make, but how much you keep, how hard it works for you and how many generations you keep it for. Helprace “RobeRobe
  • 13. Failing to establish a competitive advantage Don’t be afraid to enter a cometitive industry. Competition only means there’s a good market for your product. Aside from solving non-existent problems, here’s why startups fail: Jack Welch, General Electric CEO If you don’t have a competitiven advantage, don’t compete. no product/market fit doing too little research on what users want no competitive analysis increases vulnerability to market changes not being ready to pivot allow yourself to pursue other niche projects Helprace k Welch, General Electric CEO If you don’t have a competitiven advantage, don’t compete. Helprace “JackJack
  • 14. Ignoring the onboarding process Everything from your marketing copy to how-to articles and media should be used to facilitate easier discovery and usage of your product. Keep watch on these onboarding components: Beth Comstock, GE vice chair Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day. introduction process intro videos, infographics, encourages sign up welcome process ease of setting up, instructions, user friendliness functionality highlights getting users to stick around once they’re set up Helprace h Comstock, GE vice chair Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day. Helprace “BethBeth
  • 15. Inability to disassociate yourself when needed There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Since business life demands we invest ourselves - it’s often difficult to remove your personal feelings from your business. Nouman Ali Khan, public speaker If someone corrects you, and you feel offended, then you have an ego problem. too big of an ego being confident is good, overconfidence is not shortsighted approaches unable to understand long-term outcomes having tunnel vision avoid shutting yourself off from other options Helprace man Ali Khan, public speaker If someone corrects you, and you feel offended, then you have an ego problem. Helprace “NoumNoum
  • 16. Failing to leverage existing strengths Every startup has inherent strengths you can use as leverage. It involves taking something that you have at your disposal and applying minimal energy to gain actionable results. Henry Ford, Ford Motor Co. founder The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar is bound to succeed. smaller email lists easier to send out personalized material specialization, time-to-market small size can be a competitive advantage faster experimentation process smaller customer base or changes required Helprace ry Ford, Ford Motor Co. founder The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar is bound to succeed. Helprace “HenrHenr
  • 17. Rejecting experiment-based approaches What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another. Experimentation is sometimes the only way to come to meaningful conclusions that are able to drive growth: Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. set out what you want to discover have data to measure and set a hypothesis keep optimizing your experiment examine how/what factors act on it a/b testing and control group testing see what attracts more visits or conversions Helprace ph Waldo Emerson, poet All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. Helprace “RalpRalp
  • 18. Not learning from past mistakes Only about half of new businesses survive for five years or more - meaning new entrepreneurs are likely to be former entrepreneurs. According to MIT research: Harold J. Smith, writer, actor Most people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. we don’t learn from failure our brains remember successes, not failure we learn from our successes what worked before and what could work better survival rates change little over time technology startups are not better than others Helprace old J. Smith, writer, actorr Most people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. Helprace “HaroHaro
  • 19. Focusing on wrong marketing channels Marketing is all about matching the product with the customer. Not marketing properly can quickly drain you - so avoid these three biggest marketing pitfalls: Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell. no strategy or marketing at all start small and expand on what works failing to track your results focus on Google Analytics, PPC, SMM, etc. ignoring what competitors are doing know how your competitors attract customers Helprace h Godin, author, entrepreneur Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell. Helprace “SethSeth
  • 20. Not managing time effectively When your day isn’t planned out, you end up spending money on crisis management instead of creating or producing. Keep these time management habits in mind: Stephen Covey, educator, author Time management is a misnomer, the challenge is to manage ourselves. the most effective use of time is customer development & networking, not product time is money, don’t waste it pay professionals who do things better than you stretching your time thin is wasteful burning out and overworking can lead to failure Helprace phen Covey, educator, author Time management is a misnomer, the challenge is to manage ourselves. Helprace “StepStep