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Startup mistakes to avoid in 2019

by Sebastian Konkol
December 04. 2018

Everyone wants to be a startup CEO these days. Everyone wants to bring up another groundbreaking idea. To stop having bosses and working from 9 to 15 on boring paperwork. Become the part of history. To have so much money that you don’t know what to do with them. To own a business screaming, just like Mark Zuckerberg “I’m CEO, b*tch”. Beautiful scenario, right?
However, there are a few bumps on the road before all that happens.

If I had a penny every time someone came up to me with another excellent startup idea and no clue how to start and what they should prepare themselves to, I would be swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.
As I don’t get paid for that, at least I can share my knowledge on common startup mistakes, so that you can get closer to creating a unicorn rather than a donkey.


Kamikaze MVP

Usually, startup report to us asking for creating MVP (or/and help in looking for an investor). When we ask "Alright, let's suppose we prepare the MVP, what's the next step?" the majority of founders don't have a pre-made plan. In this case, their basic answer is: "Let's run MVP, then we'll see if pivot will be necessary."
Unfortunately, the reality doesn't forgive slips. Usually, they mistake "Move fast and break things" for "Close your eyes and run.". You don’t want to crash against the wall!
Pivot is not a rapid reaction to the unplanned plot twist but a thoughtful decision based on the result of business research. Spontaneity is a lovely feature in many fields but not in business. While designing paths of development, you should devote some time to pivoting (e.g., before the end of the investment phrase) depending on factors important for your branch of business.

Lucky path believers

The situation gets a bit better when founders arrive with some plan. To be more specific, another startup mistake - a linear plan. It's usually presented according to the rule "If A then B if B then C.". Founders block themselves off from thinking over potential catastrophes in peace and quiet.
Why having a side plan is that important? If you don't take into account all of the possible scenarios, they will make decisions in the heat of the moment, guided by fear and stress. You know that they aren't the best advisors in the world, don't you?
I usually design development schemes using simple graphs and mindmaps. When one scenario becomes impossible to perform, I have my legal crib sheet with alternatives handy. Usually, thank previous preparations, I can even go wild and take up several paths of development at once. It is the only multitasking situation I accept.

Investors oriented startup

Probably the most popular anti-pattern of business. The typical symptom? 100% of the founder's focus on startup development is basing on funding, not on the client's but investor's side. It often results from the wrong determination of MVP extent (according to founders, the project demands huge funding before it yields returns).
In this case, detailed analysis and proper assessment of the minimum startup value is helpful. From our experience, we can tell that this analysis can lead to lowering investment cost. As a result, the founder suddenly gains free time to focus on clients rather than running after investment funds.

Buzzword startups

Have you already tried to use blockchain like anywhere? How about gas quick release plates in SaaS mode? No? Okay, maybe smart hammer? Industry 4.0 is a hot topic right now! Ridiculous, right? Sometimes founders want to include some popular technology at a push. That's how they lose credibility. In our career, we have met many bright ideas, but irrational buzzword uses were off-putting for investors. How can you trust some guy who catches trends faster than Pokemons?
Remember, smart solutions need smart decisions. Before implementing any technology, consider its realistic usages in your business. Otherwise, you’ll generate costs, not for the actual results but the buzzword.

 

These startup mistakes are only the tip of the iceberg. In the next articles, I'll dig into no-goes of running a startup and how to fix them (if it’s possible). If you have more questions, write a comment or just share your thoughts. As the good old cliché says, sharing is caring!

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