12 Common Mistakes Startups Make


When you’re starting a company, everyone tells you what to do – put together a deck, talk to customers, talk to investors. We’ve seen the lists ad nauseam, but what about a list of what not to do?


eraser and word mistakes

  1. Produce a product or technology that no one wants. It’s called ‘buy-in’ because the idea is to get people to buy
  2. Not have a revenue model from Day One. You might not implement it immediate – but it better be there.
  3. Spend all of your time fundraising and not enough time on developing your product
  4. Build a pitch instead of a business
  5. Listen to investors, chapter and verse. We all go to pitch panels and get investor feedback. Question: how many times have you attended one such event, heard an investor sing the praises of the company – and witness him/her write a check, or heard that they wrote a check not long afterwards? Thought so.
  6. Not listen to investors. Some do know what they’re talking about. We know both of them.
  7. Think that sales and marketing are not as important as product development. Every chair needs at least three legs to support it.
  8. Lack the determination and resolve to realize your dreams.
  9. Start a company for the wrong reasons – your product is cool, but is it compelling? And are you the one to do it? Know your strengths and limitations.
  10. Give up too easily: of course it’s hard to do – if it were easy, everyone would do it.
  11. Not have a clear message or product. We go to a lot of pitching events. Half the time, we’re not sure what the company is about – and neither do the investors. Do one thing and do it well. And be able to articulate it.
  12. Have a grabber. Example: BMW – the Ultimate Driving Machine. FedEx: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. Clear. Simple. Effective. Multibillion dollar company – and they got there almost overnight. Be memorable.

Another mistake is using the word ‘disruption.’ We know that it’s the word du jour but it’s used far too frequently, and even more frequently misused. Disruption is an ethos; it changes things; it doesn’t accept the status quo and sometimes, it’s the middle finger. True disruptors are few and far between and change the very fabric of our lives, if not our vocabulary. We google; we tweet, we friend. And if there’s absolutely, positively still some confusion about what true disruption is, when was the last time you sent a package and said that you were going to UPS it? A true winner becomes part of the very fabric of society, at least on some level. Work on your deck – but keep an eye on your purpose.

About the author: Bonnie Halper

Bonnie Halper curates the StartupOneStop.com newsletter, which focuses on startups and entrepreneurs, and is currently being read in 50+ countries around the world.

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