40 schoolboy errors start-ups make

Smarta - think create growThe wonderful Smarta website has come up with a simple but hard-hitting list of basic errors many start-ups make.

Everyone is entitled to make a mistake or two on their journey (it is the best way of learning after-all), but make too many and your business is dead in the water. I have come across many of these mistakes during my advice sessions with inventors and aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly number 1.

Below are the headings, with more detailed descriptions on the SMARTA website.

The basics
1.    Assume ‘everyone will want this’.
2.    Can’t sell, won’t sell.
3.    Lose focus.
4.    Quit your job too soon.
5.    Don’t understand the industry.
6.    Don’t tell everyone you can about your idea for fear it’ll get nicked.
7.    Think a great idea alone is enough.

Planning
8.    Haven’t accounted for late payments in your budget.
9.    Not enough market research.
10.    Bad name.
11.    Make pie-in-the-sky forecast figures.
12.    Think your sales forecasts are accurate.
13.    Think big but don’t think about scale.

Pre-launch
14.    Don’t register your business trademark early enough.
15.    Forget to think up consistent stationary and signatures before starting.
16.    Don’t user-test.
17.    Don’t set targets.
18.    Agonise over  minutiae.
19.    Pay thousands for a website you don’t need.

Day-to-day business
20.    Rush into a deal before properly evaluating whether it’s worth it.
21.    Get intimidated by what the big boys are doing.
22.    Don’t keep in contact with potential clients.
23.    Hard sell.
24.    Don’t take negative feedback graciously.
25.    Explain your business in 10 minutes rather than 10 seconds.
26.    Stick too rigidly to plans.

Money
27.    Don’t have a numbers person on-board. Whether it’s an accountant, an FD or a partner who knows their onions, you need to have someone who can unravel the numbers for you if you want to make money.
28.    Don’t look after cashflow.
29.    Don’t draw up a contract when borrowing from friends, family or fools.
30.    Forget to include something major on your budget
31.    Travel excessively when you could do things remotely
32.    Overspend on office space.
33.    Rely too much on your accountant.
34.    Ignore the advice of your accountant.
35.    Forget to bargain on everything.
36.    Take investment too early.

The team
37.    Try to do everything and control everything.
38.    Recruit too soon.
39.    Don’t sack quickly enough.
40.    Don’t share the vision.

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