Top 10 Startup Mistakes-OR NOT ? A Contrarian View

 

Patience is a virtue less known these days and I want results overnight if not in a fortnight. This makes me do things, take decisions which may not be wise in the least. But I none the less, give my best !

#1 Building something nobody wants – It is all well known to me as an intelligent human. I think of an idea, fall in love with it and want to take it to the world. Is it not imperative that I Love MY Idea,  whether or not others believe in it ? How would another know whether my idea would work or not ? How can a research talk about something which has not been done before ? Then how can a third party give views on what I believe in?

Picture Credit – Taken from a share, origin unknown

#2 Hiring Poorly – As an Entrepreneur, I like to invest controlled resources into the system, so that my expenditure does not run out of hand. This encourages me to hire less expensive task-force for operations and delivery. So whats wrong in it ?

#3 Lack of Focus – I Eat Sleep and Drink my idea. So much so that I forget about eating food and drinking water as well. In the startup mode, from Peon to CEO I am everything. Eventually, there is so much to take care of that I barely remain focussed on my original idea. In the process of running regular operations, finding clients and networking with my ecosystem it is very easy for me to digress from my original goal. What should I focus on ?

#4 Fail to Execute Sales & Marketing – If I don’t sell, how do I invest? When I don’t Invest, how will I Sell ? Its a catch 22 situation. How much should be invested before I start generating revenue? What are the right ways to market my product depending on my target market, segmenting my customer base. Whats the right messaging that needs to go to my target consumer ? What is my Go To Market strategy? What modes of marketing need to be followed in which stage of business ?

#5 Not having the right co-founders – Anyone new in the startup ecosystem may not necessarily know the right people for various domains. It is important for a co-founder to be of the right mindset and that I gel along well with him/her. A qualifying criterion for someone to be even eligible to be considered to become my co-founder is the fact that s/he believes in my value proposition. Its much more difficult than a wedlock. If this association goes wrong, apart from heart breaks a lot of financial liability falls upon my shoulders. So many variables, how do I know who is right for me ?

#6 Chasing Investors not customers – Startups are for profit entities and are essentially setup for generating revenue with exponential growth in profits. Once the pilot or prototype is demonstrated I want to Scale Up. In the process of expansion, I give growth hormone injections to my business in the form of investments to add resources and resort. Yes Investors are necessary, but at the cost of business itself ? How do I know when I am crossing the line ?

#7 Not making sure you have enough money – Heard somewhere that I never will have enough money yet whatever I have will be sufficient for my needs. But thats not entirely true in the bootstrapping lifecycle. The gestation and startup phases will see negative revenues and pumping in of investments in the form of Personal savings, credit cards, family and friends. Once that is exhausted, then angels, govt grants and incubator funding are to be taken up. Looks like someone who doesn’t have any personal money of their own, first needs to collect some funding before even starting ?

#8 Spending too much money – As an Indian I am a known miser. But I aspire for a luxurious office to show off even if it costs me lot of money. I know being wise in my spendings will help me go a long way. But then how will I host the client when my office isn’t presentable ?

#9 Failing to ask for help – This is the biggest problem of them all. Sometimes, I don’t realise that asking will help. Sometimes, I am too proud to ask. Or am I a Show Off –  Know It All ?

#10 Ignore Social Media – I love social media to connect to family and friends. But I didn’t know that acquisition of my initial customers would be through friends and family. Most of my work was spread through my near ones. But how much is enough ?

Apart from the above, some other factors were equally important that I ignored.

#A. Not managing cash flow – Due to lack of focus or experience in planning to spend what and when, I kept spending money on as per need basis and not on planned basis which eventually led my fund planning go haywire!

#B. Not willing to take criticism –  How can I ? I am too nervous, I will loose my face in front of others. Once my confidence shatters, I will not be able to move ahead. Thats why I am happy with praises alone !

#C. Not willing to accept failure – I was over confident. I knew I have to persist until my last breath to make my idea successful. This made me put my nail and tooth in it and I kept on throwing good money after bad – maybe to prove to myself that it will work !

All said and done, quantitative research gives us figures without giving us qualitative information on what happened and how. It is important to read detailed stories of why someone failed, much more than seeing standalone reasons why something went wrong. The most important of all, seek help from friends, family, hire consultants if you need to, but do things right way and you will surely succeed.