Startup Pitfalls You Should Avoid

By Ricardo Marcelino·3 min read
Startup without falling into traps Illustration

Suddenly, you get struck with (what you believe to be) a genius idea! Wouldn’t it be great if there was a unique product unlike anything already available? You’re so excited. The birth of something new that you’ve just imagined. So many possibilities and expectations.

You start to investigate further and sketching, trying to refine your concept. It’s time to write your business plan: concept, value, differentiators, market, expected cost, retail price, etc.

The project is becoming bigger and you start to stumble on implementation challenges. How can I get that equipment? Who will have the skills to do it? How will I pay for it?

At every step you take, you are presented with decisions you’ll need to make.The complexity starts to feel pretty overwhelming and your goal seems to be pushed away as you come across more obstacles and unexpected challenges. You start wondering inside if this was really a good idea. Maybe there are good reasons why it hasn’t been done before. Maybe your great idea is too expensive for the value your users perceive or maybe it is too much of a niche market. Some people you’ve shared the idea with seem to have their doubts as well.

Then, some good advice comes along, telling you to focus and keep it as simple as possible to prove your concept. It’s hard to decide what to cut or to change but you’re committed to creating  it even if it fails. You ask for help, work more than you ever expected, ask for more help and finally, have something to test on the market.

You are now flooded with great reviews and opinions but sales are not impressive. When pitching your idea, you get all kinds of feedback. Maybe you need more features, maybe something simpler or you might even have to change the product’s main goal.

Looking back, you’ve learned a lot. Your journey gave you insights on the market, competitors and product, and you have a clearer vision for the road ahead. So you adjust your product, get funding, partner with a big distributor and live happily ever after...or maybe not. Even if you don’t become the next big startup, you’re now a better entrepreneur, carrying knowledge and experience to your next adventure.

Success is as much about great ideas as about persevering and building and adapting them as good as you can. There are no success recipes but there are useful principles to help you avoid common pitfalls. Here are some of them:

  • Do not treat your idea as a hobby and skip your business plan. Good data to validate your assumptions is sometimes hard to find but worth the effort.

  • Be realistic. Most of the startups do not survive long enough to make a profit, and that’s a reason to set your own limits. Your mental health will appreciate it.

  • It’s easy to be carried away by your own perspective or feel lost in the middle. It’s good to have someone you trust with experience to coach you or challenge your views.


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