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8 Deadly Mistakes Should Avoid That Kill Startups

by Rachel McPherson
Mistakes you should avoid when launching a web design startup

It seems like every year between 70% and 95% of all startups fail.


Well, that is a difficult question with numerous answers, with the most popular being: there is just too many startups out there for a higher success rate to be achieved.

Also, many of them are based “in digital world” (software companies, web development, web and graphic design), which means that they are present worldwide and can have clients all over the world.

However, that also means that they will also have to compete with other international companies based in London, New York, Tokyo or Moscow.

So, how to survive in this “dog-eat-dog digital world”?  To be perfectly honest – it will be though… Really though!

Here are 8 common mistakes should avoid that kill startup. After launching your startup, at least you will have a fighting chance and a good starting position in the everlasting rat race.

Mistake#1: Having Only One or Too Many Founders

Mistakes you should avoid when launching a web design startup

Starting a company alone can be fulfilling but very demanding. Over the time, the weight upon your shoulders will become heavier and heavier, and you will realize that you could use someone to share your burden.

On the other hand, starting a company with four of your friends seems like a lot of fun: everyone has a certain area of expertise they accel at, and thus your startup will grow unobstructed.

However, there is a downside to this as well: you will own only 20% of the company and decision making could become a nightmare. Most start-ups with multiple founders end up with only one lead founder anyway.

Therefore when founding a startup, choose one person you can cooperate easily with and that complements your skills in a certain way. Make sure that you select your future partner very carefully, for this deal will bound you professionally for the years to come.

Mistake#2: Lack of Focus

Lack of Focus - Mistakes you should avoid when launching a web design startup

100 different clients will have at least 30 drastically different requests which, naturally, you will not be able to fulfill. Do not despair – this is perfectly fine.

You should remember the rule of the game:

if you are doing something, do it right!

This approach may turn away few clients that require something different, but it will allow you keep those who want high-quality product within their niche.

Having a clear focus makes it easier for your designers to devote themselves to the final product, and make fine tweaks to improve something that is almost perfect already.

In contrast, by trying to appeal to everyone will leave you with a team that is being torn all over the place and unable to focus on matters at hand – and that never ends well.

Mistake#3: Being Inflexible

There is a thin line between being focused and being inflexible. Having the “my way or the highway” attitude does not work in entrepreneurship nor in the world of startups.

Sometimes, the road you have chosen to walk down simply doesn’t lead you where you wanted to go. At those moments it is time to change course – or, in this case, implement necessary changes in order for your company to survive.

Being stubborn will only make you lose money and time trying to push forward an idea that has no chance of succeeding.

There are many examples of companies successfully pivoting from their initial concept when it proved unsuccessful.

However, the only reason they’ve managed to rebound was because they were open to moving away from their original idea.

Mistake#4: Hasty Hiring

Every startup is meant to be carried by its owners (both of them) as long as possible. However, after a certain amount of time, burnout is bound to happen to both – and then (and only then) will you need to hire someone to help out.

Many new business owners make mistakes by bringing in new faces before they even figured out what kind of person they want in their company in the first place.

According to the Saratoga U.S. Human Capital Effectiveness Report, on average it costs $3,375 to hire an employee.

Therefore, before you make any rash recruitments, think well and hard about your company’s culture, about your company’s goals and what do you really want out of this undertaking.

If you take on someone who doesn’t share your vision and works only for the paycheck, quality of the final product will probably be very low.

Mistake#5: Not Using Appropriate Tools

There are certain instances that entire team will be required to pitch in – depending on project and client’s wishes, of course. There will be a need for project managing, task and time tracking and collaboration, not only between team members but between team leader and client as well.

And while in the past communication was handled by email, and work organization was done via whiteboards and Kanban cards, things are significantly different today.

It is of utmost importance that you choose useful collaboration tool to ensure excellent communication among team members, as well as a complete project management tool for startups to help you keep all of your projects on track.

The fact of the matter is: running a disorganized business will increase overall cost and time of website production, and can result in frustration not only among employees but among clients as well.

Mistake#6: Under & Overspending

New business, such as web design startup, doesn’t necessarily requires a large investment. Having a business website, latest hardware, best equipment, and the most expensive software is great for the designers, but can prove to be a heavy burden on company’s budget.

There are usually other, less expensive but just as good options available, but only if you’re willing to do the research and scour the internet for the things you need.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who have “It’ll do!” attitude.

These owners believe that the old hardware, pirated software and minimum wages for his employees will be enough to make a headway – and they are usually wrong.

Even though there are different ways to grow your business with limited funds, going overboard and refusing to invest any kind of capital in your business can severely limit your potential for success.

Mistake#7: Undervaluing Your Services

Just because you’re new to the market doesn’t mean that you should charge way less than your services are actually worth.

You wouldn’t decide to launch a startup if you weren’t already somewhat of an expert in the field anyway… But sometimes, lack of confidence in your ability, as well as fear of failure can cause you to severely undervalue your services.

Even though charging less for your work in the early days of your company’s existence may somewhat come natural, it can also prove to be a double-edged sword.

It may provide with the larger initial client base, but will most certainly diminish the unique value of your work you bring to the table.

It will take a lot of effort to recover from undervaluing your work, which is why – before starting your business – you should thoroughly research the market.

Identifying the best price entry point for your service can mean the difference between make or break.

Mistake#8: Settling For Good Enough Instead of Pushing For Ideal

Finally, if your business is considered good enough or mediocre at best, you will soon discover that your clients are leaving you for your competitors who offer better and quality service.

Therefore, it is important to remember that not being able to deliver ideal products at the moment, doesn’t necessarily means that you shouldn’t strive towards that goal in the future.

You will want to find ways to improve your business, even when you believe it’s good: always improve, always strive towards being better.

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