8 Common Mistakes That Can Kill Startups

The author is a Community Outreach Manager for

If you have started a business or are considering starting one, you know that the hardest part of entrepreneurship is just keeping the whole thing afloat.

A startup can be exciting, but it can also nerve-wracking. At this stage, your business is vulnerable, and just a few missteps can spell the end of it all. A business that has potential may be but a memory if it isn’t managed properly, and even someone who is business-savvy can overlook the simplest mistakes.

While every business needs attention in different places, here are a few of the most common mistakes that can put an end to a business.

An Unoriginal Idea

There are cases where imitation ends up being the winner. For instance, Oreo cookies started as an imitation of Hydrox, another sandwich cookie that is now left in obscurity. But that was over a century ago. In the Internet age, there’s too much oversaturation of the same idea, and by trying to do what everyone else is doing, you’ll drown in the crowd.

Think, think, think about your idea. Does it solve a problem in your community? If not, is there a way to modify it to make it more unique? If your idea isn’t that original, go back to the drawing board.

Poor Money Management

We could have an entire set of articles about how to manage money as a startup.

Overspending, underspending, underfunding, overfunding, getting a loan from someone shady … these are all risks. Unless you’re a professional accountant, try hiring some professionals to help you manage your money.

Starting it By Yourself

Some of the best companies were founded by more than one person. This isn’t to say that a single-founder business can’t be done, but having more heads can be good for multiple reasons.

First, you may have an idea that sounds good to you, but isn’t that great when you think about it, and having partners can help you to filter out the bad ideas. Second, there is a bigger consequence of failure. You don’t want to let your partners down, so be the best you can be.

Fighting With Your Partners

On the other hand, a dispute between you and your co-founders can spell doom for your startup.

A single business dispute can be all it takes for someone to leave, and for you to manage the company all by yourself. While people can fight over anything, there are a few tips to avoid disputes. Always remember to choose your partner wisely. Just because they’re a friend doesn’t mean they’re a partner.

Also, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Find a mediator to help you settle any disputes you may have. Fighting is always no good, but it’s an inevitable part of business, and you should be prepared for a dispute.

Poor SEO

Search engine optimization is everything, whether your business is offline or online. To have customers, they need to find you, and by not optimizing your site to make it appear on the search results, you’ll be missing out on potential customers, and this may cost you the business.

For example, 75 percent of people don’t go past the first page of Google search results. Don’t skimp out on good SEO. Instead, hire some professionals to make your site a hot target, and you won’t regret it.

If people can find you in common search inquiries, you will definitely be doing more business.

Not Listening to the Customer

Customers have been getting a bad reputation as of late.

An outspoken customer is depicted as entitled and having nothing better to do than pick a fight with a company. And while there are people such as this, you need to separate them from customers who have legitimate feedback and want to help your business.

Good or bad, take customer feedback into consideration, and critically think about what they’re saying. Talk it over with your partners and see if their advice is worth taking.

Hiring Too Fast

Once your business evolves to the point where you’ll need employees, it’s time to hire. Slap a few help-wanted posters across town, post a listing on a local job search board, and find the people who will help push your company up.

The latter is key. Some startups hire too fast and don’t bring in people who are interested in the company and want to see it grow. Instead, they’ll hire people who put a half-hearted effort into their job and see it as just another way to pay the bills.

You’ll want to hire someone who knows what the company is about, but isn’t just a yes-man and will help you with making any improvements you can towards your business. So screen your employees before you hire.

Quitting Too Early

One fatal mistake is quitting.

Sure, there are times when you have no other option but to give up, but too many startups close at the first sign of trouble, without realizing there will be downs as the company grows, as contradictory as that may sound.

About 80 percent of startups make it through the first year, but some people close of quickling, thinking that failing fast will save them more money.

You have to realize something before you start: Your startup may take years before it gets its big break. Like people, companies grow at different rates. Some grow early on, while others take years to expand.

Knowing this, you should not give up just because things are looking bad. Sometimes, life can be like a movie, where just as the hero appears to be defeated, they rise up and conquer their challenges.

Think rationally before quitting. If there’s a way to continue, do it.

Startups Are Hard, But Worth it

Your startup can change the world, whether on a local or a global basis, but as it’s an early project, you need to take good care of it. You’re going to make mistakes, which you’ll learn from. You’re going to have to take risks, which will pay off, damage you, or do nothing. But by preemptively avoiding these common mistakes, you have a better chance of turning your startup into a go-up.

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  1. 1

    Thanks Susan, I agree with your point that the idea should be original (unique) but sometimes the Idea is same but the difference is in the process of making out things happen.

    For example: Social networking websites are build with a common idea but are different when it comes to the process of getting things done such as social engagement, marketing & advertising.

  2. 2

    As part of a small team working on the Reconnect customer retention tool, which is basically is a startup, I do find some of the ideas in this article to be of high interest to me.

    Very good read!

    Keep it up.

  3. 3

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