4 Common Mistakes That Will Kill Your Startup

Check that you aren’t making any of these four common mistakes that often cause new entrepreneurs to fail.

Photo: Luisa Zhou, business coach; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Luisa Zhou, business coach; Source: Courtesy Photo

You started your business to make a difference and to follow your passion, not to end up as another sad business failure statistic forced to ultimately return to an unfulfilling 9-5 job.

That’s why you made sure to give yourself every chance of success by saving, cutting expenses, and preparing yourself mentally before quitting your job to launch your business.

To ensure your efforts aren’t in vain, check that you aren’t making any of these four common mistakes that often cause new entrepreneurs to fail.


  1. Forgetting to validate your idea.

    As Paul Graham, founder of business incubator Y Combinator, likes to point out, so many founders fail because they build things that no one wants. Why? Because they forget to confirm beforehand if anyone actually cares about what they’re creating.

    The best way to prevent this from happening to you is to make sure people are willing to pay for your product by validating it using tried-and-true methods. Don’t get intimidated by the idea of validation as in many cases, it’s as simple as getting 5 people to say, “Yes, I would like to buy that when it’s available—here’s my credit card.”

  2. Neglecting to establish a strong brand from day one.

    In a crowded marketplace, having a strong brand is non-negotiable as it tells customers who you are, what you offer, and why they should buy from you instead of your competitor.

    It’s your business’s personality, and if you are a solopreneur, it’s often the same thing as your personality. Remember, there’s literally no one else like you in the entire world. Communicating with your unique voice and style will instantly guarantee your business brand is one-of-a-kind.

    Convinced, but unclear on what exactly you need to do to define your brand? Rest easy—brand clarity is only 5 questions away. Ask yourself: What is your business purpose? What is your message? What is your brand voice? Who is your customer? What do you want to be known for?

  3. Waiting too long to launch.

    One of the most common pieces of advice shared by experienced entrepreneurs is to launch before you’re ready. As The Muse Founder Kathryn Minshew advises: “Your first product will likely be just a little bit ugly, and that’s okay – it’s part of getting to market quickly and testing your idea in front of live customers.”

    To minimize your time to launch, rethink your minimum viable product (MVP). What is the minimum set of features your product must have to solve your customer’s problem? Work backwards from there and forget the niceties that won’t make a difference. You can always add those on later.

  4. Failing to market like it’s your job (which it is).

    A misconception that new entrepreneurs often have is that “if you build it, they will come.” And as many failed companies have learned too late, that is as far from the truth as could be. You can have the best business idea in the world, but does it really matter if no one knows about it?

Once you’ve validated your idea, defined your brand, and created your product, hit the pavement! Find your ideal customers and tell them about your business. There are many ways to do this including social media, paid advertisements, and good old-fashioned word of mouth. Figure out what works and keep on doing it. Your bottom line depends on it.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Luisa Zhou is a business coach for new coaches and consultants. If you’re ready to turn your business idea into a reality, visit luisazhou.com for coaching opportunities and tips for jump-starting your business. Connect with @luisazhou on Twitter.


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