If you’re going to start up, you will make many mistakes. But, mistakes are a fantastic way to learn – what to do and what not to do.
Chances are, you will make mistakes too. Here are 15 successful entrepreneurs who talk about the biggest mistake that they made when starting up so that YOU don’t make the same ones!
The biggest mistake I made was to have started my business with an intent to sell it. That’s a wrong ‘intention’ to have. The karma of the startup gets muddled up. Then, all along, you start thinking of exits and shortcuts rather than growth and value creation.
I’ve made many mistakes, which is part of being an entrepreneur. The one that sticks out the most was bringing on too many people at the beginning. We started getting traction and thought we needed more people, but there is a lot of benefit to keeping a lean and focused team in the early stages. We ended up cutting a few people, which was hard, but we found a renewed energy as soon as we did.
I’ve made countless mistakes in my entrepreneurial career. My biggest was attempting to be a parallel entrepreneur whereby I was foolishly trying to run two companies at the same time.
Startups are an all-consuming thing. It’s hard to split time and passion across multiple ones. Startups are hard enough as it is, but balancing two at the same time is almost always a bad idea.
Hustle – This isn’t the hustle of being passionate or working long hours but of being persistent and making sure people care about you. I have let opportunities pass by because because I didn’t get a response to my email (send another!), couldn’t get a meeting with someone (get an intro), or didn’t have the answer (ask the right questions!).
From my experience in business, people are genuinely nice and want to help if you can give them a good reason too.
For me personally - focus, focus, focus. Most entrepreneurs have lots of ideas and have problems with choosing which idea to focus on. The best entrepreneurs choose just one idea and focus on it until it either succeeds or they ditch it and move onto another idea.
Roman Grigorjev, Chief Yeti, GuessMate.me.
Haven’t read Eric Ries – The Lean Startup and Steve Blank – The Startup Owner’s Manual before jumping in. Could save a lot of efforts.
Max Rostotski, Founder, GoodsMasterHQ.com.
A Specific Focus. I tried to be something that I’m not. I could have saved myself a lot of time and money had I worked on a clear focus. I lacked any more of actual goals or objectives. I was working on a “Social Network, the movie” kick. I should have built the business around my strengths and talents. I’m a firm believer that we were given those talents for a reason. It’s what we should be doing.
Focusing solely on product development is definitely a pitfall to beware of. Always have the business strategy of your product at the forefront from the very beginning. The marketing mix will define your business longevity, so be strategic from the off!
Ryan Garner, Co-founder, Smart Farm Apps.
I made 2 mistakes: Doubting during the start-up process: I presume its natural prior to ‘taken the leap’ – but even more so, it is dangerous to do so when you have taken the decision to do it and before the first major client has signed up. One feels very alone in the world. One have to believe in oneself.
Not having a business lawyer from the beginning: I relied on my clients legal team for the first contracts. Obvious mistake as the clients legal lawyers is paid to benefit the client. Get a business lawyer is the learning.
I listened to too many people and created confusion for myself which led to delays in execution.
Being more conscious of exit strategy. When you get caught up in the day to day you often forget, “Hey, someday I might want to sell this baby.” Processes, systems, M&Ps, etc. should be optimized for your customers and for the future business buyers.
Stretching ourselves too thin. We couldn’t focus on both the work fronts, chose a wrong manager at one place and couldn’t afford to sustain the operations at two geographically distant areas. Stretching ourselves too thin was coupled with hiring the wrong team for the job and not planning finances thoroughly.
Not have a MENTOR. Startups underestimate the power of having a great mentor, who has been there and done that. A good mentor can save you from making a lot of mistakes, which you do not realize till it becomes too late. The other mistake we did was to talk to customers after building the product.
Deliberating a little longer than required on positioning the company for product or service. After attempting on both the fronts for 6 months, service emerged as the strength but wish I picked up one and went after it from day 1.
I did not identify a fascinating problem, problem that is intriguing enough for me. I was rather opportunity driven, I saw an opportunity and went ahead to build a business around it. Didn’t think of scalability challenges, certain businesses are inherently challenging to scale.
In the end, I leave you with one thought. Don’t let the mistakes create a fear of starting up. Go on, make mistakes and create your own learning. That is the only way to learn. And who better to encapsulate this than Elbert Hubbard, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
And if you did make some, please share with me in comments below.