How to Identify and Avoid Common Startup Pitfalls : Under30CEO How to Identify and Avoid Common Startup Pitfalls : Under30CEO
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How to Identify and Avoid Common Start-up Pitfalls

| December 1, 2012 | 9 Comments

Starting a company can be a tumultuous and turbulent process. There are a tremendous number of variables at play and decision making is at times based on conjecture and uncertainty, which can lead to miscalculations and mistakes.

From launch to pitch to funding, there are mistakes that startups can identify preemptively and avoid, thus increasing the chances of a successful startup journey.  Through my own experiences launching companies and daily observation of startups launching on Fundable, I’ve realized there are a handful of potential wrong turns to steer clear of:

PRESENTING A WEAK PITCH

A quick way to lose a valuable opportunity with an investor or customer is to present a weak pitch. It’s important to work on preparing and refining your elevator pitch constantly. Consider it your responsibility as an entrepreneur to be able to communicate your business in a compelling and effective manner.

Don’t rely solely on your own judgment- as you pitch and notice the reaction and response of others, refine your phrasing. You’ll be able to hone in on what is resonating most with your potential investors, customers, or partners. Think of your pitch as a twitter update – keep it short and easily digestible.  If people keep asking for clarification, your pitch isn’t perfected.

FAILING TO PROTECT YOUR BRAND

As soon as you decide to move forward with a company, take the time to lock up your domain name, twitter handle, instagram name, etc. It may not seem like a big deal at the beginning but it can lead to brand issues and a complicated domain purchase later on.

BURNING TOO MUCH CASH

If there is one major piece of advice I could offer to all entrepreneurs, it would be to treat your cash like it represents how long you will live. Spend it foolishly and die young. Spend it wisely to become healthier,and in turn increase your company’s lifespan. Don’t waste your money on non-essentials. Instead of buying new things, buy used things. Get creative, think through each purchase, and borrow and beg before you let critical cash slip out of your hands. Focus on keeping your burn rate low and your company can gain valuable time to refine your product before catapulting to success.

PIVOTING TOO QUICKLY

There is a huge movement going around the startup scene right now- entrepreneurs are fixated on the importance of ‘pivoting’. The problem is, most people make a snap-judgment transformation when they don’t achieve immediate out-of-the-gate success.

If you truly stand behind your idea, a bumpy beginning should not completely derail your momentum. Think of the entrepreneurial path like climbing a mountain. The problem is that if you don’t climb for long enough, you never get to the top of the mountain to see what is on the other side.

ALLOWING FEAR TO BECOME A DECISION-MAKER

Starting a business can be scary, so it’s important to be prepared to deal with fear so that you don’t panic when it does come. In the Navy Seal training regiment, they condition soldiers’ brains to respond differently to fear, citing that most casualties in the field are due to people panicking when they are in a scary situation. The same is true of entrepreneurs.

So often, entrepreneurs get stuck in a state of what I call analysis paralysis. When an entrepreneur becomes hyper-analytical, assessing micro-details of an opportunity or decision, they become paralyzed and fail to take any action at all. When something blows up right in front of you, it doesn’t mean you should run away and retreat. Learn to deal with fires and plan on becoming good at putting them out.

FORGETTING THAT CUSTOMER OPINION IS IMPERATIVE

If you’re looking to get honest feedback on your product or service, attempt to sell it to customers. Friends and family lie, a customer’s money will not. Take the time to get out there and sell your product.  Start talking to the customers early and often to get valuable and critical feedback from the customers that will buy your product or service.

TAKING ADVICE FROM THE WRONG PEOPLE

When launching a company, you’re bound to come across an entrepreneur that is gung-ho about the sage advice they have received from someone and is thrilled to pass along their wisdom to you. Upon further research, you discover that the advice-giver doesn’t have any real experience in your industry or even launching a successful company in general.

The issue here is that poor advice at the startup stage can lead to painful mistakes. Take time to find reputable, high-quality advisors who have launched a successful company in your own industry.  Do your due-diligence into their background and successes.

LETTING MOMENTUM DIE

Once you earn momentum, never ever let it go.  Once you’ve picked up speed from sales, customer engagement, or product innovation; keep the forward movement going.  It is much easier to maintain momentum than to regenerate it. If you are lucky enough to have a major press event or big contract win propelling you to a higher level, make sure you keep efforts on repeating these successes, and keep on climbing.

IF YOU HAVE FALLEN, GET UP

If you’ve already made a startup mistake, it’s not too late to turn the ship around. Even the most successful companies experience rough waters at launch.  If you’ve proactively sought out the right mentors and advisors, and have a solid understanding of your customer base, you’ll have more protection from the inevitable bumps along the way.

Eric Corl has spent the last 8 years building companies that help entrepreneurs thrive. Eric has been a member of the founding teams of The Go Big Network and Idea Buyer, and currently serves as the President of Fundable.com. Eric was recently recognized by the White House as one of the most influential entrepreneurs under 30.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://twitter.com/JonathanBahai Jonathan Bahai

    Wow.. spot on.. wish I had someone give me this 15 years ago.

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  • ERIC CORL

    Do not do BUSINESS with someone like Eric Corl. No Integrity. TALKS BIG. Breaches Agreements.
    Takes advantage after obtaining Patent secrets. Infringes on Patents. Check ALL Past references, and obtain CREDITABILITY

  • John

    Great article! I love that you talked about pivoting too quickly!

    “There is a huge movement going around the startup scene right now- entrepreneurs are fixated on the importance of ‘pivoting’. The problem is, most people make a snap-judgment transformation when they don’t achieve immediate out-of-the-gate success.

    If you truly stand behind your idea, a bumpy beginning should not completely derail your momentum. Think of the entrepreneurial path like climbing a mountain. The problem is that if you don’t climb for long enough, you never get to the top of the mountain to see what is on the other side.”

  • Lee Hamm

    Jonathan – I completely agree! I wish I had this advice 10 years ago when I started my first business. I could have avoided a lot of pain and heartache.

    One piece of advice that I would add is to start selling right away and never stop selling. It is so important.

    I loved the part about never giving up as well.

    IF YOU HAVE FALLEN, GET UP

    If you’ve already made a startup mistake, it’s not too late to turn the ship around. Even the most successful companies experience rough waters at launch. If you’ve proactively sought out the right mentors and advisors, and have a solid understanding of your customer base, you’ll have more protection from the inevitable bumps along the way.

    Also, I really liked this part about never letting momentum die. So true!

    LETTING MOMENTUM DIE

    Once you earn momentum, never ever let it go. Once you’ve picked up speed from sales, customer engagement, or product innovation; keep the forward movement going. It is much easier to maintain momentum than to regenerate it. If you are lucky enough to have a major press event or big contract win propelling you to a higher level, make sure you keep efforts on repeating these successes, and keep on climbing.

  • Lee Hamm

    Very good point as well!!

    _

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