What is one mistake that you made as a startup entrepreneur and why was it important?
To help you learn from the mistakes of startup entrepreneurs, we asked entrepreuners and startup founders this question for their most important mistakes. From not focusing on revenue to hiring an in-house developer instead of outsourcing, there are several important mistakes shared that may help new startup entrepreneurs avoid making the same.
Here are 14 mistakes every startup founder should make:
- Not Focusing On Revenue
- Overlooking Marketing
- Starting Off in WordPress
- Ignoring Medium-Term Goals
- Poor Knowledge of The Local Market
- Believing I Could Do it Alone
- Hiring Too Many People Too Quickly
- Not Paying Attention To Direct Competition
- Failing To Seek Financial Help
- Underestimating The Time and Resources Required
- Being Extravagant When Starting To Grow
- Not Checking Employee References
- Aiming for Perfection
- Hiring an In-House Developer Instead of Outsourcing
Not Focusing On Revenue
Without revenue, your startup will not scale or grow. If we want to go deeper – without revenue, you as the new business cannot eat. You can’t pay to live. Think about that.
I took my business from $80,000 in debt in 2106 to a million dollars in 2022 – and that was because of my focus on sales and delegating the rest.
With over 20% of new businesses failing in the first two years, it is so important that you as the CEO care about focusing at least 50% of your day on sales (Making calls, doing email outreach, going out to networking events, etc); making sure you have a real website and not a personal email; making sure you are bringing in revenue each month; making sure you are marketing – if you have a product, but no one knows it exists, you have nothing.
Don’t obsess over things that don’t matter like making a perfect website or creating the perfect product. Just go sell.
Trevor Rappleye, CorporateFilming.com & FranchiseFilming.com
One of the first mistakes I made was we had overlooked how we were going to market our product and how people were going to learn more about our business. Obviously, if no one knows your business they won’t buy from you, so this can kill any start-up if you don’t have a solid marketing plan in place.
Loren Howard, Prime Plus Mortgages: Real Estate Note Investing
Starting Off in WordPress
The one big mistake I made was starting off in WordPress. I am not saying that WordPress is terrible but when it comes to technological problems I am impatient. That says something because I come from a family that knows a lot about technology but running a website was not one of them. It was an expensive mistake that I made but it was a good mistake for me to learn because it taught me I should not follow what everyone else is doing. People told me I should go to WordPress and after working 90+ hours a week for a whole year, I left for Squarespace 4 to 5 years ago. Now I am moving to podpage because it’s better optimized for SEO and speed.
Jimmy Clare, CrazyFitnessGuy
Ignoring Medium-Term Goals
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting medium-term goals. The long-term goal is usually obvious as the origin for an idea, and short-term goals typically grow from that idea naturally. However, in seeing the overall objective and how that affects the everyday operation of an enterprise, an entrepreneur shouldn’t neglect the medium-term picture that exists on a one-to-five-year timeline. These objectives need attention on a monthly or seasonal basis to ensure that the short-term goals are serving the larger purpose. Remember to connect the daily practices to the larger mission with medium-term objectives.
dan potter, CRAFTD
Poor Knowledge of The Local Market
A decade ago, I decided to open my own language school. As a skilled English teacher, with years of experience, head full of ideas, and some money for the start, I felt that there could be nothing in my way. Sadly, there was. I didn’t have a proper knowledge of the local market. I came back to my hometown after years spent in a big city where I gained teaching experience. The decisions I made were based on wrong assumptions – many aspects of my plan just didn’t apply to the area where I moved. It was a precious lesson as now I conduct the research more carefully to avoid similar mistakes.
Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume
Believing I Could Do it Alone
Believing I could start an enterprise alone was a huge mistake. Though some business models can function with a lone individual providing a good or service, there will come a time when that person will need help with production, bookkeeping, or other aspects of business beyond their capacity. Knowing when to ask for help is crucial for growth and development. Even if there is no partnership or large-scale organization, maintaining a healthy and diverse network of business professionals is critical for entrepreneurial success.
New Melchizedec S, Expertrec
Hiring Too Many People Too Quickly
A huge mistake I made starting was in my hiring. I hired too many people too quickly. That made it challenging to keep them working and paid as we moved forward. The fear was we wouldn’t have enough workers to match the business we might have. We were thinking of customer service and wanted to make a great first impression. The trouble was we didn’t have that much business starting. It would have been better to not hire anyone, or only one person, and do the extra work ourselves until we saw that we needed more workers. Customers would have a bit of a longer wait as we grew but we could have worked that out with coupons or some other apologetic token.
Tanya Klien, Anta Plumbing
Not Paying Attention To Direct Competition
The excitement around a new service might cause young entrepreneurs to believe that they also have no direct competitors, or that the invention is so far ahead of its competition that it belongs in its own classification. In practice, having no direct opponents is quite unusual. Unless you’ve produced something truly new, someone in your sector will already have a significant market share. Investigate these firms to learn more about them and how you may set yourself apart from them.
Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen, Formula Swiss
Failing To Seek Financial Help
The fatal mistake I made when starting my business was refusing to seek help because I believed I could do everything by myself. This was detrimental to the business’s success because I suffered significant losses in the early months.
Though I suffered losses, making this mistake taught me that no matter how many books I read about entrepreneurship, I need experienced entrepreneurs to help me see things from a different perspective. I now hire a financial advisor to help me effectively manage my finances, which has been a critical component in assisting my business to thrive and run smoothly.
Charles Ngechu, EasyPaydayLoan
Underestimating The Time and Resources Required
I made the mistake of underestimating the time and resources required to develop a SaaS startup. Time constraints prevented me from pitching to businesses and focusing on the market that required our service the most. Until now, we have struggled to keep pace with scalability. I’ve learned, though, that if you don’t make the effort to sell your product/service to a relevant market with connections and exposure, you’re not really creating a business.
Huzaifa Ahsan, FindPeopleFirst
Being Extravagant When Starting To Grow
Shiny object syndrome is the key thing that can make your business go bust. It’s easy for this to happen, in fact I’ve spent hundreds and thousands on new tools, software, or the latest trend on TikTok when I first started to grow. This resulted in lost revenue that could have been reinvested into the right process improvements and infrastructure to scale.
Identify your biggest time sucks such as training new employees or contractors and make an effort to improve your service or product delivery process. The faster you learn to effectively delegate and empower your team members to take ownership – the easier it will be in the long run to build a sustainable business without burnout. A simple business doesn’t always require the fanciest tools – so think twice before you get FOMO.
Melody Johnson, The Course Consultant
Not Checking Employee References
The biggest mistake I made was not checking potential employee references. It can cause months of headaches when you realize a lot of what they said was not true once they are a part of the team. Making sure you have the correct people on board is the most critical thing. A thirty-minute exercise to check who they are will save a huge amount of time and resources. It will literally put your business back many months if you get this wrong.
Luke Smoothy, Get It Made Ltd
Aiming for Perfection
When I, Co-founder Simon Bacher, first developed the Ling App – a language learning application offering courses in over 60 languages and now downloaded by over 5 million users – the number one mistake I made was aiming for perfection. Instead of marketing my app or seeking feedback, I was constantly trying to make the product perfect. I thought that if I launched the perfect product it would instantly gain traction and attention from users. That wasn’t the case, and it has taken me nearly 5 years to reach the level of success I’m at right now.
In hindsight, instead of waiting for the perfect product, you should launch as early as possible. No matter if your product is 100% finished or not, feedback is key and, quite frankly, invaluable to a startup company. Maybe if I hadn’t waited so long to launch my app, I would have gained success earlier, nobody knows. Don’t wait or strive for perfection. If you already have a good idea in front of you, it will succeed no matter what.
Simon Bacher, Simya Solutions
Hiring an In-House Developer Instead of Outsourcing
A regrettable yet important mistake I made early on when starting my venture was to hire an in-house developer rather than outsource the work. My failure to project how costly such a decision can be compared to outsourcing saw my business run into debt, and I had to put a hold on operations for a while. I learned a valuable lesson in startup finance management and now advise other entrepreneurs not to hire when they can outsource at the early stages of their business.
Mehtab Ahmed, LoansJury