The Biggest Mistakes Made by Startups

Alexander Weekes
3 min readSep 7, 2020

There’s no denying starting a business is exciting. It’s a new venture, there’s a big goal — and if it goes right, it will change your life. What’s not to get excited about?

However, the reality faced by many entrepreneurs after the initial shiny-phase, is that starting a business is not easy. You’ve got your dream product idea, you’ve got the innovation, the passion, the drive. You even have the business acumen — but your startup just hasn’t fallen into place.

The good news is, you’re not alone — over 72% of small business owners feel overwhelmed. From my experience as a product manager, I’ve compiled the most common mistakes made by startups.

Going it Alone

It’s easy to start feeling protective over your product. However, you will never grow a successful business if you’re unwilling to let go. Going it alone is one of the easiest mistakes to make, particularly in the early stages. The reality is, you don’t have the entire skill set needed to optimise your business. So find somebody whose experience and way of thinking complements yours. If you’re a technical founder capable of building the product and implementing the processes you’ll need a non-technical co-founder to help implement the business-side of things, and vice versa.

Not Being Frugal Enough

As soon as you secure investment, it’s easy to start spending. However, being frugal with your money is a quality every member of your team should have, no matter how many of you there are. It is not to be confused with cutting corners — never compromise on quality. However, recognising where you need to expend your resources and tracking your spending to potentially have backup in a crisis will save you money — and could even save you a business failure.

Failing to Research the Competition

You might think your product is like nothing before. But you still need to determine who you’re in competition with. And if you really can’t find anything — is it because of a lack of innovation, or is it because nobody wants to buy it? Part of researching the competition is in researching the market. Your product needs to be in that sweet spot of knowing people are looking for a solution to this problem, but also recognising that a startup has scalability in the market. For instance, we all know phone battery is a problem with smartphones — but the chances of a startup penetrating the smartphone market with competitors such as Apple and Samsung is incredibly low.

Having a Long-Term Business Plan

Startups, particularly tech startups, need to have the agility in their business plan to be dynamic. Often business plans are so rigid in their long-term strategy that they miss how the world around them is changing. Every day, new products are released, new advancements are being introduced — and your startup needs to keep up. That doesn’t mean changing or adapting your product every two minutes, but it does mean being agile enough to have room for movement.

Not Providing a Solution

We’ve all had days when we’ve come up with the best Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank idea. We’re convinced this is going to change our lives and change the world — and then we realise that the product exists, or you do a bit of quick research and find out X company, selling ‘your’ idea went bust. There could be many reasons it did go bust, but the most likely reason is that the idea you share, doesn’t answer a problem. Having a product idea which isn’t a solution, makes the market vague, it means you can’t niche into your audience, and it means the product is floating around without having a main purpose. This is the foundation of failure for many product-based startups.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for guidance to strategise and implement solid processes in their startup contact me on Linkedin or via email: alex@thetechgorgecom .

Alexander Weekes

Alex Weekes is a Digital Product Manager, Associate Lecturer, and Startup Consultant working with some of the world's most innovative startups and technologies.