There are a few things in the world harder than building a successful startup. Anyone who has created a successful business will tell you it takes much more than a brilliant idea and determination to make it big. Being a part of a startup isn't always glamorous. It requires hours and days and months of relentless work. Even if you do all that, there are chances you might fail. Statistically, you are supposed to fail. Less than 1 in 100 startups have a successful exit.
And if you are a first-time entrepreneur, you don't even have any experience on your side. But you can make up for that, by reading about other entrepreneurs and their experiences. This Quora thread talks about some of the mistakes that early entrepreneurs make. Some of the answers, written by people who have built successful startups, are full of insight.
Here are 15 of those mistakes these big entrepreneurs made, so you don't have to or at least could learn from:
1. Poor hiring decisions
There's no doubt about the fact that it is the team which makes or breaks a company. Hiring is one of the most important steps towards building a successful startup. Hiring someone just because you know them or they are your friend could be a fatal decision.
2. Creating a complex structure
If something is simple to begin with, it's easier to change it later on. Moreover, a complex legal/financial structure for things will only make you spend more of your valuable time and energy with things that aren't really the focus of your company.
3. Taking ego to the workplace
It's important to properly recognise everyone working at the startup. If you believe you are above or below someone else, you might be making a huge mistake. Only if your team is working cordially, it can help you grow.
4. Working yourself to death
Relax. Take a break. Take a walk. Take a day off. Creating a successful startup is a marathon, not a sprint. And you need to be in the best condition, physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically if you want to complete the marathon.
5. Not having a positive cash flow
Businesses are about cash flow. If you're not making money, no one cares about you. The investors have invested in you because they want returns on their money. If you're not making money, then what are you doing?
6. Freaking out
Just like in life, it's common to have highs and lows in business. But freaking out about it won't help in any way. And that is especially true if you are the leader. If your employees sense your panic, it's not a good sign. Keep your cool, and figure out a way to fix things.
7. Not keeping an open mind
Entrepreneurs need to be open. Open to new people, new ideas, new strategies. Having only your own opinion narrows down your train of thought, and that is, in no way, good for your company. Keep an eye on the market and keep listening to your customers.
8. Building too much
Building too much has two major problems. It takes a lot of time, and it costs you much more. Plus, the bigger your product is, the more difficult it becomes to add changes to it later on. It's always better to have a Minimum Viable Product and then tweak it to suit your exact needs and capabilities.
9. Being secretive about your idea
Talking about your idea with people around you will help you refine it. You'll find out if people are willing to use what you are offering them. And whether or not they are willing to pay you for it. And in case, your idea is stupid, you'll find that out too.
10. Emotionally getting attached to an idea
Do not get overly attached to your idea. If you do, there's a good chance you'll be able to look at your idea with only your point of view instead of looking at it holistically. This might lead you to believe that you are the only person doing the right thing.
11. Trusting reports that say everything is fine
If you think things are fine, you're wrong. Things are never fine. You should always be on your toes looking for areas where you can do better. To keep disrupting, you can never feel that things are fine.
12. Not getting rid of bad apples
You need to understand what is best for your business and have only the people who you think will help you take your business towards the goal. It's not common to see co-founders being let go from companies because their ideas no longer align with that of the company.
13. Having lots of parallel strategies
The important thing is, you give your strategy the best chance to succeed by giving it all your attention. A divided focus leads you in no direction. There should be one clear strategy, and every employee in the company should understand it clearly.
14. Comparing yourself to other startups
Stop being envious of others' startups. All startups are different, have different kinds of needs, and different parameters of success. Just because some successful startup somewhere did something, that doesn't mean you have to do that too.
15. Waiting for that 'perfect' moment
There is no moment to launch that is as perfect as now. If you keep procrastinating the launch of your product, you're only giving yourself lesser time to figure out if it will fail or succeed. Stop making excuses.
Now that you are armed with all this knowledge, let's hope your next entrepreneurial venture is a success.
Design credits: Suvojyoti Ray