18 Start-up Mistakes Everyone Should Know About

18 Start-up Mistakes Everyone Should Know About


Give your start-up the best chance it has by following these guidelines. Make sure you’ve avoided all these 18 common mistakes before launching your start-up or you could set your business up for failure before you’ve even gotten off the ground.

Single Founder

Get through all the work yourself is tough and you need someone to brainstorm with. Partners can talk you out of stupid decisions and keep your spirits up. Start-ups have very low, lows. Multiple founders will bind you all together and keep your enthusiasm, determination and motivation levels high

Bad Location

Specific cities have prosperous start-ups because they have:

  • Higher standards
  • The type of people you want working for you, want to live there.
  • Supporting industries
  • Concentrated industry experts

These all contribute to the success of start-ups and when they’re missing the failing of start-ups.

Marginal Niche

Don’t choose a small, obscure niche market to avoid having competition. Every good idea you come up with will most likely already have competition or could potentially have competition. You can only avoid competition by having bad ideas. Smaller ideas may seem safer but they won’t get you the success you’re looking for.

Derivative Idea

Majority of successful start-ups haven’t imitated someone else’s idea. Their ideas came from specific, unsolved problems they either identified or had personal experience with.

Pivoting May Be a Necessity

You’re going to receive unexpected feedback. Don’t give up and don’t ignore it. Use the feedback to inspire you to change your business model which could help you avoid failure. Many successful businesses had to change course along the way.

6. Hiring Bad Programmers

Bad programmers will slow down your progress. Check that your programmer can do what he says he can do.  Hiring or partnering with a good programmer could help you hire experienced programmers.

Choosing the Wrong Marketing Platform

A platform that looks respectable and fine from the outside could destroy your start-up. Give your programmer the choice. A useful trick: See which one they’re using at a top computer science department for their research projects.

8. Slow to Launch

This only works if it’s a strategic and stealthy launch. Don’t spend ages in development. Rather get your most valuable product developed and release it. Then you can see how your potential customers will react. Don’t overdevelop, hundreds of features won’t keep your start-up afloat.

Launching too Early

You can ruin your reputation by launching too early. If people try out your product and it’s not good they won’t try it again. Your newly launched product doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to do something.

10. No Specific User in Mind

Test what you have with your target market. Don’t rely on your intuition. Talk your target market into using your products, if you can’t you’re on the wrong track.

Raising too Little Money

Getting investors to invest in your business is a good strategic bet. You need to take enough to advance you to the next step, like a working prototype or significant growth. Set your expenditure low and your first goal, simple, this will give you maximum flexibility.

Spending too Much

Spend your start-up funds wisely. Invest in exceptional people and quality products. This will work in your favour long-term. Be strategic and balanced with your spending.

Raising too Much Money

Large investments have drawbacks:

  • Time to negotiate, companies are cautious when investing
  • It requires you to employ more people and rent office space – once here you can’t easily change course
  • Managing your employees and the office politics which follows
  • Your employees aren’t founders, they won’t be as committed.

Don’t bargain hunt between investors. An offer from a reputable firm, at a realistic valuation with no abnormally tedious terms, is a good bet.

Poor Investor Management

Listen to your investors useful insights. Don’t allow them to run your company. An example of investors making trouble with successful companies can be Apple, whose board nearly fired Steve Jobs in the early days. Even Google had issues with investors when they started out.

15. Sacrificing Users for (Supposed) Profit

Develop your product and your business model with a customer’s come-first approach. Focus on a sustainable business and not only on making money. Create this by having happy, devoted and long-term customers.

Don’t Want to Get Your Hands Dirty

Spend half your time developing your product and the other half talking to executives and arranging deals. Companies won’t buy a product if there is no tangible proof that it will be successful. Grow a user base to make your product more attractive to acquirers.

17. Fights between Founders

Majority of the disputes are personality clashes. Don’t start a company with someone you dislike or because you didn’t want to leave someone out. The people involved are the most important ingredients, don’t compromise here.

A Half-Hearted Effort

The biggest mistake you can make is not trying hard enough. The common type of failure is not the one that makes a spectacular flameout, but the one we never even heard of that never really went anywhere and was gradually abandoned.

Mistakes will be an unavoidable part of the start-up process. That doesn’t mean you should repeat everyone else’s mistakes.

18-Mistakes-That-Kill-StartupsThis infographic was visualised by Mark Vital for fundersandfounders.com.

Related: (Infographic) Say YES to More Success

Nicole Crampton
Nicole Crampton is an online writer for Entrepreneur Magazine. She has studied a BA Journalism at Monash South Africa. Nicole has also completed several courses in writing and online marketing.