10 Mistakes Startups Make

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I’ve seen a bunch and had some big ups and some big downs. I haven’t been the most successful, but I’ve enjoyed my career and perhaps gained a little wisdom along the way. Certainly I like to think that I’ve made enough mistakes to at least sometimes know what not to do. Here are some common mistakes I’ve seen Founders and startups make.

1. Reading shit like this instead of talking to customers

2. Dreamers in bed with technology but not in love with their customers

3. Not focusing on picking up customers and making them happy and repeating

4. Seeking too much investment too early (instead of customers)

  • Aka CEO busy meeting investors instead of customers for 2 quarters
  • Aka company is bullied into changing its business model then suddenly starts bleeding customers, and still follows investor advice.

5. Founders that know everything / are in love with an idea

  • Did they ask a customer?

6. Founders that don’t have convictions

  • Doing something just cause it will make a buck
  • Doing something just because someone else suggested it
  • Not respecting the team
  • Not knowing the difference between right and wrong
  • Not loving their customers

7. Technical Debt & Long to do lists

  • AKA after this feature launches we launch the next feature and the next feature and the next feature and the next feature and the next feature, and we never go back and work through the customer feedback and fix the bugs and write the unit tests and solidify the frameworks.

8. Contracts

  • Aka. That “cofounder” who left after 6 months and took 14% (no vesting schedule)
  • Aka. The customer who sales promised the moon, but the team can’t deliver
  • Aka. The supplier you never used who locked you in for $2000 a month (is it ok if we just don’t pay?)

9. Working too hard / Playing too hard

  • Spending time with family and friends is important.
  • Sleep and exercise and personal time is also important to pay attention to.
  • Startups are fun, especially when success is knocking. Playing too hard can also knock you out.

10. Not delegating/over delegating

  • A good administrative assistant can help the founders save hours every day on the mundane tasks of scheduling appointments, making travel arrangements, sending head-hunting emails and researching competitor pricing.
  • Important hires should be trusted to make decisions and manage teams.
  • Founders should take an active interest in each and every hire and major strategic decision.

Alex Miller is an Entrepreneur in Residence with Accelerating Asia, he works closely with our startups on product, storytelling and growth. Find out more about our flagship program and join Amplify.


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