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What have been your biggest mistakes and biggest learnings from building your startup?

As I am looking at the journey ahead of taking the leap of faith, I wonder what kind of things to look out for and perhaps some wisdom that you can share that I can use for guidance during execution.

13 Replies

Timothy Coats
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Timothy Coats Entrepreneur
Director of Applied Innovation at Trace3
Hildel, one of the most common mistakes I have seen when working with young start-ups in truly understanding why someone would spend money with them. Usually they spend the first 18 month talking about their technology, which they should be rightfully proud of. They will get may affirmations, but very few orders. You have to put your self in a prospects shoes and ask why would the business spend money on what you are selling. Understand where your value is and then build your go-to-market around that.

Also, pick just one or two use cases to focus on. You will have limited resources so you need to deploy them such that the support each other, very much like a Chess game. You can't do that if you don't stay focused.
Gloria Luna
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Gloria Luna Entrepreneur
VP Marketing - Brand builder and creative problem solver
Building awareness is key. Knowing your POD and how to create demand for your product/service will be critical.

Working with entrepreneurs, Often the common thread is that marketing is de-valued and they think their product/service will sell itself. Either it is not adequately budgeted for it or they don't call on the expertise where necessary. Many a good enterprise has failed because they failed to create a compelling, consistent message and building engagement with their target audience.

"When a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it..."

Good luck to you.
Angelos Kapatos
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Angelos Kapatos Entrepreneur
--
Remember that when you are speaking with people constructive criticism can be helpful but when you come across the people that are trying to bring you down and be negative because they know they don't have the guts to be a creator, don't be polite, get up from the table tell them to piss off and walk away. The difference between the 2 is blatantly obvious and take actual notes from the good criticism people as it will help you fine tune your business. Listening to the naysayers will ruin your own psychology. Also make sure you spend much more time on the theory of your project, your gut instincts will tell you whichever specifics that you passively ignored to fully address before moving forward.
Alejandro Cremades
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CoFounder & Executive Chairman at Onevest
My biggest mistake was to keep my idea secret. The lesson there was that by sharing my idea with others, I could then unleash the power of crowdsourcing and have other folks help me in covering some of the holes that I was not able to see myself.

Another mistake was to outsource core pieces of the service. The lesson there is that by keeping those pieces in house it was easier to be more effective and to generate better results. Nothing like having people accountable and managing things. The level of ownership is totally different.
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
focus heavily on proving product/market fit BEFORE you cut a line of code (or build a product or open a store or whatever your format happens to be). It is mind boggling how many startups, even today, build a product first then try to sell it. Sell first, build later. And don't stop selling. Even after you have what you think is solid market demand, keep validating as you build - don't build in a vacuum.
Tim Wat
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Tim Wat Advisor
Adjunct Professor at California State University, East Bay
+1 Rob Gropper.

You have to validate product/market fit first - which is a fancy term for making sure your solution solves an actual need/pain that real people are willing to pay money to solve.

You can't validate that without actually talking to people, which is uncomfortable, awkward...and absolutely necessary.

The risk of not validating first? Building the best screen door for a submarine.
Martin Omansky
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Martin Omansky Entrepreneur
Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional
Mistakes: Not having the following: (1) Ownership and protection of Intellectual Property (2) Own $s at risk (3) Cohesive plan (4) Management & financial sophistication (5) Product(s) ready for market We also suffered from over-confidence, and lacked proper preparedness. Sent from my iPhone
Valeriia Timokhina
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Valeriia Timokhina Entrepreneur
Eastern Peak Software: Custom software development
Our company has an extensive experience in working with startups, I would like to share some useful information. One of our clients asked us to publish recommendations about How to write a great RFP.
I'd like to share this article with you, maybe it will be helpful for somebody.
Another frequently asked question is How to improve your website lead generation
Why your website may scare your clients off?
Oftentimes entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of user experience. We've collected the list of tips for businesses to check and improve their websites. The article tells what should include your website design and how it is directly connected with the lead generation.
Also startup entrepreneurs often wonder what are the benefits of outsourcing and whether it is a good solution for them.
We have several articles that will help to make a decision. First - learn about Types of outsourcing (Local, Offshore...), their pros and cons. Second - How to find good developers?
Hope this helps! Have a nice day!
Ansar Hafil
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Ansar Hafil Entrepreneur
Business Consultant at Winning In Business
The biggest mistake I have seen is a lack of market research i.e study of the size of the market, the customer's needs, the competition and is my product/service solve the customer's problem.
Dianna Mullins
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Dianna Mullins Advisor
Co-founder & SVP, Marketplace Operations at Mode Media (fka Glam Media)
When at the earliest stage of starting your company the following lessons i have learned:
1. Select co-founders that compliment your skill-set, not overlap
2. Focus on the monetization strategy early
3. Iterate often - plan, build, validate, re-plan, build, validate ...
4. Identify all your stakeholders early. ALL of them. Then go about answering the value you add to each one. If conflicting, work through that until you find the sweet spot.
Get to work! :-) -d
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