There are a lot of posts floating around about how to help a startup succeed, but I wanted to look at the other side to that coin: startup killers. More of us are at risk of killing a perfectly good startup than we’d like to believe. Word to the wise: here are ten situations to avoid.
1. Launching before you’re ready
Sure, you’re antsy to get your startup up and running, but launching too soon can make your brand look shoddy, and can invite all manner of customer service issues, especially if you’re in software. Instead, aim for a soft launch to a limited number of people who can test your platform and find bugs that you can then work out before the larger public sees them and writes you off.
2. Having no PR and marketing strategy
Startups, simply because they have such short trajectories, need smart PR and marketing plans right out the gate. You should hire a PR and marketing employee or consultant before you launch so that you maximize your splash in the marketplace. Many startups think they’ll be the “next Facebook,” falsely assuming startups, like aspiring actors, simply get discovered. Not so. Facebook and every other successful startup put in a lot of hard work before they got traction and attention.
3. Assuming you’ll get funded
You hear “startup” and you think “investors.” But out of the thousands of startups that launch each year, only a tiny handful find investors willing to pay them for company equity. You may not be in the right phase to attract investors, or they simply may not see your idea as viable. Have a backup plan for how you’ll pay expenses for at least the first year.
4. Working with a co-founder just like you
Like attracts like, but in the case of startups, that’s a drawback. If you decide to take on a co-founder, make sure his skills complement yours, rather than matching your skill set. This lets you focus on different areas in your business, getting more done faster.
5. Trying to do it all
Like any small business, it’s natural for a handful of people to take on everything at the start. But have a plan for when and what you’ll start delegating (not sure what to let go of? Here’s a list of 132 things) so that the best-skilled people are managing everything at your company. Because you’re probably no good at designing web pages and doing your own accounting.
Remember: careful planning and strategizing never caused a startup to shut down. Being passionate about your startup is a wonderful thing, but make sure you’re fully prepared for the hard work ahead…before you launch.
Photo: The Knowles Gallery on Flickr