Brian Stumbaugh

Brian Stumbaugh

The lists of startup mistakes are mighty, ubiquitous, and frustratingly long. Across the internet you’ll find gurus barking at you about the 30 Deadly Mistakes here or 18 Things You Should Never Do! there, to the degree you might be scared away from launching, growing, or taking risks.

By no means am I here to halt your horses or thwart invention. Get out there and fight the good fight, that’s what you’re here for. Yet there are some egregious mistakes you should especially avoid if you want this stellar idea of yours to get off the ground.

1. Lacking on Location

Not all startups will ramp up in Silicon Valley or Seattle, but there are some armpits in America to surely avoid. It’s important to surround yourself with like-minded folk who can advise you when things get tough, and help re-direct course if strategies aren’t working well. Whatever your business is about, do research to see if your location is one that can support and grow your brand whether you’re building your startup around an app or a product. The reasons why established hubs thrive is because that’s where the experts of industry hang out. That’s where the people you want to hire live. The standards bar is set higher. Choose your location carefully and surround yourself with people who are more understanding of what you are trying to do.

2. Half-Assing It

Pardon my French, perhaps you’d prefer “half-hearting” it. Either way you get my meaning, you have to pour yourself and attention into your startup. This can’t be your side project if you want the attention of the big leagues one day. The sooner you jump in wholly the better, and you’ll have to jump in sooner than you think you’re ready to. Having a well done start up business plan is great way to make sure you’re ready for all of the challenges that come with starting a company. One of the biggest reasons for startup failure is letting the project fizzle because the day job was always #1 priority. If this will be a successful startup, get a little traction and then go all in.

3. Building For Too Many Audiences

This isn’t too dissimilar from half-assing it. The second you try to broaden your scope to encompass everyone’s wants and needs, is the same second all potential customers will become less interested in your final product. You simply can’t do two – or twelve – things great. Find the one thing you can knock out of the park at, and focus on the audience that will devour it. Build by understanding your target customer and stay focused.

4. Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid

This is a pretty easy one to spot. If you can’t explain your idea without getting buy in from friends, family – or almost more importantly – strangers you meet, you aren’t going to make an impact on the market. Friends don’t let friends build garbage businesses, so pay attention to the critics that will surely fly your way. Everyone has an opinion on everything, so give the naysayers the platform every now and then and listen to how they can help you refine your idea into something that will get them and other cynics to buy and make you rich. There are many accelerator and incubator programs that can help you prepare, so take advantage of them when you can.

5. Not Launching Soon Enough

It can be tough to let your baby fly. You want to make sure it’s ready to fight every fight, and never embarrass itself in any situation. That’s never going to happen so come to grips with that now. Get your product out there and learn through testing and feedback. Just like it’s hard to quit the daytime job, it’s hard to believe your product will ever be perfectly ready to launch (psst, it won’t be!). Set a deadline and stick to it. The beauty of this is it’ll force you to actually get it done in a reasonable amount of time without exhausting resources. Swear by that deadline and launch.

While I could rattle off a parade of other reasons, the biggest mistake is making excuses not to get started. Get started — and keep going.

Brian Stumbaugh is a Marketing Associate at The Startup Garage, a consulting firm for high growth startups located in Encinitas, CA.