6 Mistakes To Avoid in Your First Year as a Startup Founder

Founding a startup is a rewarding and challenging experience.  Driven by the need to change the world, an industry, or even by a desire to call your own shots, new startups are popping up every day.

I've worked with numerous startups in Toronto over the past few years, and I recognized some commonalities among them - commonalities that could be detrimental to the success of your business. If you are starting a company, here are 6 mistakes that you need to avoid:

1. Being a solo founder

Creating a business from the ground takes a serious amount of effort. As a founder of any business, you will have to wear many hats including customer service, finance, and recruiter. If you have another person alongside you, you lessen the risk of burning out. You will have a partner that can help you run ideas and build the product.

2. Attending every event in town

Yes, networking is important to any business. In fact, it's a key requirement for anyone who is looking for investment, new partners, and new customers. But if you live in a big city, you'll find more events than people.

It is important to step back and consider the events that are going to give you the most value if you attend. Take the time to find out which events best fit with your goals. Do some research and be strategic about who you meet with before the event.

3. Ignoring your critics

Critics are a startups best friend. Founders treat their startup as their baby. It can sting when someone rips your product, but you should take that opportunity to listen and get feedback. Hearing their concerns could give you new insights about what you may not have considered. 

You may end up answering your critic's concerns, or you might be learning something new about your business. Every type of feedback from your customers, it's gold.

4. Not letting go

The flip side of ignoring critics is not knowing when it's time to let go. This doesn't necessarily mean shutting down your business. Instead, it means that you can introduce a new product or pivot to a new company.

Don't be afraid to admit you made a mistake There are many successful businesses and organization that stemmed from failed attempts.

5. Underestimating the difficulties of running a startup

The rules of creating a startup are changing. Creating a scalable company isn’t as simple as what they teach in business schools. In an MBA class, they will tell you to build a product, find a sales force, sell it to customers, and make them happy. “This will not produce a huge business. You need a more clever strategy,” said Eric Schmidt during the Startup Grind Europe Conference.

I knew starting a company would be difficult, but I didn't expect it to be as hard.

6. Not dreaming big enough

While the Canadian startup community is growing, I've had the opportunity to meet many entrepreneurs at Startup Grind events with great ideas. Most of them are focused on a small market, even though the potential is much bigger. 

I urge startup founders to challenge each other when testing ideas and building their network. Building a company requires more than hustle and a great product. You need a smart and supportive team. You need valuable advice from the right people. If you are a startup founder, share with us what you've learned.