10 Biggest Startup Mistakes That Cause New Businesses to Fail
28 October 2022 | 7 mins read
- HR resources
Startup failure rates are alarmingly high, with only about one-third of businesses making it through their first decade – usually due to making one (or more) of these common startup mistakes.
But why do so many startups fail?
There are a number of common mistakes that can trip up even the most promising startup, including hiring the wrong people, failing to establish a strong company culture, and not having a clear value proposition. Everything from unrealistic growth expectations to not enough (or too much) focus can lead a startup down the wrong path.
To help you avoid making the same mistakes, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 biggest mistakes most startups make. We’ll take a closer look at some of the costly slip ups startup founders often make, and how you can best navigate these issues so that you don’t make the same mistakes.
10 Biggest Startup Mistakes Most New Businesses Will Make
1. Hiring the right candidates
One of the biggest mistakes a startup can make is not taking the time to carefully vet and hire the right employees.
It’s important to find individuals who are passionate about the company’s mission and who also have the skills and experience to help the business succeed. Hiring too quickly or without conducting proper background checks can lead to a number of problems down the road, so it’s important to take the time to do it right.
Most startup CEOs make the mistake of hiring the people they already know instead of the people who are the best fit for the job. While this can sometimes work out, it often leads to a team that’s not as cohesive or effective as it could be. It’s important to remember that startup employees need to wear many hats and be able to adapt to change quickly, so hiring people who are a good fit for the culture is essential.
Take the time to find employees who you can trust and who will be able to work well with the rest of the team. A good employee is more than just what you see on their LinkedIn; so take the time to really get to know candidates before offering them a position.
2. Failing to establish company values
Another mistake startup CEOs make is failing to establish company values from the outset. Company values are the guiding principles that dictate how employees should behave and make decisions. Without a set of values, it can be difficult for employees to know what’s expected of them and how they should approach their work.
Think about it: How can you get other people to believe in your startup if you don’t even have a clear belief system for yourselves?
Define what you stand for as a company, and make sure everyone on the team is aligned with those values. Doing so will create a more cohesive team and a stronger culture. These days, employees want to work for companies that have values they can believe in, so it’s important to make sure yours are established early on.
Establishing company values from the onset will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
3. Poor communication within the team
Internal communication is essential for any startup. But startup CEOs often make the mistake of assuming that everyone on the team is on the same page, which can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication down the road.
Yes, you may have a clear vision for the company, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does.
Take the time to communicate with your team members on a regular basis to make sure everyone is aligned with the company’s goals. Make sure you have a system in place for employees to give feedback and suggestions. Be open to hearing what they have to say.
Not only should you ensure there’s a proper system in place for communication, but it’s also essential to manage the way you communicate with your team. The way you communicate can have a big impact on morale, so it’s important to be mindful of the tone and approach you take.
Avoid coming across as negative or critical, and try to create an open and positive environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
4. Failing to establish clear roles and responsibilities
One of the biggest common startup mistakes CEOs make is failing to establish clear roles and responsibilities within the team.
We get it: In the beginning, it’s often necessary for everyone to wear many hats and be flexible with their roles. But as the startup grows, it’s important to start establishing more clear-cut roles and responsibilities. Doing so will help to ensure that everyone on the team knows what’s expected of them and avoid any confusion down the road.
When the lines are blurred and employees are unsure of their roles, it can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed or even undervalued. And ultimately, this can hinder productivity.
Take the time to sit down with your team and establish everyone’s roles and responsibilities from the outset. This will help to create a more cohesive and effective team in the long run.
5. Not having a clear value proposition
A lot of startups make the mistake of not having a clear value proposition.
A value proposition is a statement that outlines what your startup does and what makes it unique. Startups often think they can just “wing it” when it comes to their value proposition, but having a well-defined one is essential. Your value proposition should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should also be differentiated from your competitors.
How can you expect customers to invest in your startup if they’re not even sure what it is that you do?
Taking the time to sit down and craft a strong value proposition is essential for your startup. Sit and reflect on what your company does and what makes it unique. Then, craft a statement that outlines those things in a clear and concise way.
Your value proposition is what will set your startup apart from the competition, so make sure it’s strong.
6. Investing too much too soon
Many startup CEOs make the mistake of investing too much money too soon. They often think they need to spend a lot of money in order to make their startup look “legit” and attract investors.
But in reality, this is often a recipe for disaster. Startups need to be careful with their spending and only invest in what’s absolutely essential. Otherwise, they run the risk of burning through their cash too quickly and not having enough left to sustain them in the long run.
It’s important to have a clear understanding of your startup’s financial situation and only spend money when it’s absolutely necessary. Be mindful of the way you’re spending your money and invest in things that will help you grow your business in the long run.
This doesn’t mean skip out on essential costs like payroll or marketing, but be mindful of overspending.
7. Failing to track metrics
Another one of many common startup mistakes is failing to track the right metrics. Startups often get caught up in trying to track too many things at once and end up not tracking anything effectively.
It’s important to focus on the metrics that are most important to your startup and track those religiously. Doing so will give you a clear understanding of how your startup is performing and where you need to make improvements.
Some essential metrics for startups include customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, churn rate, and burn rate. Figure out which metrics are most important to your startup and make sure you’re tracking them regularly. This will give you the insights you need to make decisions that will help your startup grow.
Failing to properly track your startup’s progress is a mistake that can be costly in the long run.
8. Relying too much on outside funding
Many startups make the mistake of relying too much on outside funding. They often think they need to raise a lot of money from investors in order to be successful.
While it’s true that startup funding can give your business a much-needed boost, it’s important to remember that too much reliance on outside funding can be dangerous. Startups need to be mindful of how much they’re raising and spend only what’s absolutely necessary.
Investors will also often want a say in how your startup is run, which can be a problem if you’re not careful. It’s important to find the right balance when it comes to startup funding.
Don’t be afraid to seek investment, but make sure you’re not giving up too much control in the process.
9. Not investing in HR from the beginning
A proper HR department is essential for any startup. Yet, many startups make the mistake of not investing in HR from the beginning. They often think they can’t afford to hire an HR team or that they don’t need one.
This is a dangerous mindset to have as it can lead to a number of problems down the road. Startups need to be proactive about their HR from the very beginning. This means having a clear understanding of employment laws, developing strong policies and procedures, and investing in the right HR software.
Failing to do this can put your startup at risk of legal problems, employee turnover, and a host of other issues. Investing in HR from the start is an essential part of ensuring your startup’s success.
Even if you don’t hire an entire HR team outright, investing in technology and software to help with the hiring process and employee management is crucial. It can even be something as simple as installing an internal communications protection software like Konsistent, which monitors internal employee communication for harmful and hateful speech.
10. Maintaining a healthy workplace culture
Another one of the costly startup mistakes we often see is failing to create a strong workplace culture. It’s important for employees to feel like they are part of something bigger and that they have a shared sense of purpose.
When everyone is working towards the same goal, it can do wonders for productivity and morale.
However, creating a strong workplace culture is not always easy. It takes time, effort, and dedication. Startups need to be intentional about the way they build their culture. They should take the time to develop policies and procedures that promote a positive and healthy workplace.
Failing to do this can lead to a number of problems, including high employee turnover, low morale, and a lack of productivity at work. A strong workplace culture is essential for any startup that wants to be successful. Investing the time and effort into creating a positive and thriving culture will pay off in the long run.
Employees want a work space free from exclusion, harassment, and discrimination, so building a workplace culture that is aware of these issues and how to avoid them is crucial. Learn to give your employees some grace when they need it, and provide a safe space for your employees to give you feedback and come to you with concerns.