Startup 101: How To F*ck Things Up – Starting a startup is haaard. All those news we hear about startups raising funds in millions of dollars is making just everyone jump into getting his own startup (which is good sometimes), but when you launch, you will know how hard life can be.
That’s why 9 out of every 10 startups fail.
I have made series of mistakes since the day I decided to put my money into building a company, truth is, I’m still making a lot of mistakes.
It’s the way we handle these mistakes that will either help us become better or f*ck things up.
I’ll be sharing some of the mistakes I’ve made and others that I’ve seen or heard other people make.
Not taking responsibility
Whether you like it or not as a founder or CEO, if things are getting messy, you’re the one at fault and you have to take responsibility for it.
Blaming anyone will do more harm than good.
Accept responsibility, after all you hired them, you’re supposed to be hands-on at all times to avoid bad scenarios and if they occur that means you weren’t paying attention or didn’t care enough.
Instead of looking for someone to blame, take responsibility and look for a way to fix the problem.
Taking too long to launch
If I was waiting for the perfect time to start, things would have been worse than the way it is now.
There is no perfect time to launch, the time is now.
Things don’t need to be perfect and you shouldn’t also rush the product.
Some people even spend time thinking of a business name when you’re supposed to be launching the startup already.
I would have waited to get enough money to launch but I knew the more I waited, I’ll be missing out on opportunities, I borrowed some cash from my girlfriend and a week later I launched with an MVP.
Not using cash wisely
When the first investment you made in the startup runs out or is almost finishing, that’s when you will begin to understand how complex a startup can be.
If you’re not good with money (like me), you will learn the hard way.
If you don’t act fast to raise more cash and begin to learn how to spend wisely, things will get messy.
Understanding how to spend and making priorities is something you should know how to do, if you aren’t good with money, someone else on the team should take that responsibility.
Be careful of your burn rate, reduce it as much as possible, make calculative spends and remember there is always another (cheaper) way to solve a problem.
Not Selling enough
The reason you started in the first place is to sell and make a profitable business right?
No matter how good your product or service is, nobody will care if you aren’t putting it out there.
If it means pissing people off to get your business out there, then go ahead and do it.
Thinking that “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t work anymore.
The competition is too much, everyone is doing exactly or almost the same thing as you, if you aren’t selling as much as possible, someone is slowly coming to take away your business.
Everybody on the team should be a salesman.
Everywhere you go, you should be talking and breathing your startup, that and nothing else.
Too many features
This happens when almost everyone on the team is a developer.
They may not be getting enough traction so they think adding more features will make people use the product more.
Instead of adding more features and making the product confusing, you should be selling more.
Build an MVP, keep the product as simple as possible and sell, sell, sell.
Your startup isn’t as important as you think it is
Yes, I’ll say it again.
Your startup isn’t as important as you think it is.
If you think your startup is everything, you’re on your way to destruction.
You might be changing the world or disrupting a niche, if you aren’t humble knowing that things can change at anytime, when they do you will have no power to control it because of your ego.
Giving too much equity to someone that will later leave
This happened to me but I was lucky things didn’t get messy at the end.
I had a Co-founder that later left for some reasons.
What if he left with a large part of the equity and I had no way to get it back?
It happens all the time in startups.
One of the ways to avoid this is to either sign an agreement if someone leaves, the equity he owns will be reduced or bought back at a very low amount or any other way to work around it so that it won’t affect the startup.
Take these points to heart knowing that in a startup, things will always get f*cked up.
You can’t avoid them but you can always reduce the risk when it happens if you know what to do.
I would love to know how you had previously messed up things and how you took care of it. Share them in the comment section.