This topic has been in my drafts folder for a while. I take it to heart, because I find it important not to repeat mistakes I have seen others and myself make. My father always used to stress that he succeeded, because he chose to learn from mistakes of others rather than have to learn from making his own.
Here is a sampling of some of the biggest mistakes leaders of startups should avoid:
1. Learning on the job. In startups there is no room to play school, if you are the CEO or the President. If you don’t have industry expertise, get someone who does. Limited resources simply don’t provide any cushion for huge mistakes. Your team expects you to see the big picture and keep them away from falling off the cliff.
2. Inflexibility. Most startups are founded on a good idea founders had at that time. Unfortunately, markets change, customers change, and so do their needs. Some of the most successful startups I have seen (or worked for) were not making a product or providing a service envisioned at the inception of the company. Look at your paying customers, your human capital (your team), and than use your superior vision to develop best product/service your customer craves and your team can produce.
3. The only thing niches are good for is for testing out ideas. Unless you don’t want to “go big”, feel free to continue focusing on a niche, rather than innovating to create mass demand. Leader, who is enamored with niches, should not expect large investments to flow their way either.
4. Some level of self confidence is good, but not cockiness. Leader of the company is only as smart as people around him. That “circle of knowledge” should include your team, your mentors, advisers, and service providers.
5. And final point is: founder does not equal good CEO. Yes, a huge number of founders have what it takes, but there is a much higher number of those who don’t. The sooner said founders realize and get someone who is, the more likely they will survive.
I have many more in my drafts folder, but I thought these are some of the most crucial ones.