Are you working on a startup? If so, I hate to break it to you, but there’s a good chance it will fail. In fact, recent research shows that 75% of startups fail (based on a study of 2,000 startups that received VC funding from 2004 to 2010). Odds are, you won’t be a Brin, a Zuckerberg, a Systrom, a Karp or a Fake.
But hard as it may be, don’t let that statistic discourage you. Some startups are destined for failure. Perhaps the team is working on a product that really isn’t that great or useful. Maybe they’re trying to tackle too many problems at once. Or maybe the co-founders have a poisonous relationship that will hinder the company’s growth. Maybe they never thought about product-market fit. Whatever your company’s “fatal flaw” may be, you can likely avoid it in your own venture if you take some advice from people who’ve gone through the early startup phase before. Lucky for you, time-strapped entrepreneur, we’ve gathered some tips from the pros to help you avoid some of the most common, game-ending mistakes committed by young startups. Check out the tips below from founders, CEOs and investors alike.
1. Forgoing Simplicity
“Young founders tend to complicate things too much, from structuring partnership agreements, financing, leases, etc. This is not a place to be creative; keep it simple, follow the norms and be transparent so everyone is on the same page.” — Jay Levy, Co-Founder, Zelkova Ventures andUproot Wines
2. Waiting Too Long to Launch
“The biggest mistake I see is companies waiting too long to release the product. It’s easy to let the scope of what you’re building get out of hand. But equally importantly most startups buildmuch more than they truly need to, but this is often only realized in hindsight. Whether your product is working or not, looking back it’s easy to see that you only really needed to build a small fraction of the stuff you built. Most features/options/buttons/settings/etc. simply aren’t crucial to success or failure, and for an early stage startup that means they were wastes of time — you could have done 10x more with that same amount of time and resources.” — Jonathan Wegener, Founder, Timehop and ExitStrategy.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of Minimum Viable Design. Your first product will likely be just a little bit ugly, and that’s okay — it’s part of getting to market quickly and testing your idea in front of live customers. But don’t underestimate the importance of achieving a basic threshold of “this looks good (and reputable).” In my first company, people liked our product but were embarrassed to share it because the design and presentation was so poor. When we launchedThe Muse, the result was the opposite — nearly 25% of the people who visited our site shared it with someone else via social media!” — Kathryn Minshew, Founder/CEO, The Muse