Hindsight may be 20/20 but who doesn’t want to avoid making startup mistakes when possible? In business, mistakes can cost you money, customers, and even your hard-earned brand. However, there are missteps that can easily be avoided with the right preparation and awareness.
Waiting too long to delegate
As a leader, your role is to inspire your team with your long-term vision, innovation, and planning. In the nascent stages of your company, you wear many functional hats and perform many roles. As the business grows, you need people to manage different areas and specialists who’ll add their expertise to your management team. Bring on team members with skills that are different than yours and give them the tools they require to execute. The ability to successfully manage is different than the ability to lead. Relinquish the management role to someone who has proven experience so you can focus on exploring new opportunities.
Not learning from failures
Failures in a growing startup are par for the course, no matter the business. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow, and when things veer off-track, be nimble and open to pivoting if necessary. When you remove the fear of failure, teams are free to move forward, innovate, experiment, and flex their creative muscle. Minimize people’s natural aversion to risk and instill a culture of continuous learning in which the lessons learned are used to improve the business.
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Not protecting your intellectual property
You’ve worked hard to build out your business so it’s crucial you protect intangible assets like your name, logo and if you’re a designer or inventor, your creation. Everyone starts small, but protecting your intellectual property is important when planning long-term. The theft of intellectual property is a rampant problem, and patent, trademark, and copyright protection are your best bet against what could amount to a significant financial loss.
Not putting everything in writing
A handshake deal might not be enough if you have a disagreement with a vendor, partner, employee, or customer. A well-defined, signed contract by all parties, on the other hand, will save you from an enormous headache and expense if problems do arise. It might be tempting to pick speed over diligence when you’re busy growing your company but make sure to get everything in writing and think of it as insurance. You hope you won’t need to use it but it’s there if you need it.
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Ignoring preventative care
Don’t wait until a problem arises before seeking professional help. Consulting with legal and tax professionals early on in your business’s lifecycle can help you build a solid foundation and establish relationships with experts who’ll learn the intricacies of your company. They’ll guide you through reviewing contracts, establishing the best tax structure, and hiring employees so you can concentrate on the reason you got into business: growing a successful company.
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