18 mistakes that kill startups

Recently, I posted the below infographic on my Linkedin profile. It generated thousands of shares and hundreds of comments… There is no better proof of interest than the activation of a community around such topics. I will in consequence in the following posts explain why those mistakes are so deadly. We will probably in the way find more…




Mistake #1: Single founder
As put in the words of Verne Harnish, founder of Entrepreneur’s Organization: “Do you really believe you can be better alone than with a group of talented people around you? If the answer is yes…then you are the problem!”.

If an entrepreneur is a single founder; it is either a conscious decision or the result of its incapacity to persuade cofounders to jump in with him/her…in both case….it is not good news. Let’s go over the arguments I hear most of the time from entrepreneurs trying to justify why they are alone.

The Gollum: “this is my treasure….MY treasure….”; or said in another way: “I want to retain control because I came with idea”, “I will be diluted in the future”, “someone could steal me the idea”, etc.…: This is a legitimate concern…but what is the goal in launching a start-up? The best way not to succeed is not to share: not sharing your idea, not sharing your goal, not sharing the project.

The CFO: “I cannot pay competitive salary”: Yes, of course…is that a reason not to work as a team? That brings us to sharing…again. When you start a business or jump in as early collaborator in a start-up, the only sure thing is: you will make less money than working in a big corporation…and that will last a non-predictable amount of time…maybe forever. So how can you bring talents to work with you…Share equity and vision?

The All-star : “I am qualified to start a business”: Probably; but can you grow this alone? A good entrepreneurial team need a alignment of interests and values with its collaborators, a capacity to implement and the right contacts along the value chain of the industry is competing in. In very rare occasion a single individual holds in its own hands the technical capacities and commercial capacities to be successful…and if it is the case; how long will it last before the burn-out?

The fact that some entrepreneurs are now very important figures in the media must not fool ourselves…Steves Jobs needed Steve Wosniak and Mike Makula to start Apple, Larry Page and Sergei Brin needed Eric Schmidt to grow google…even Marc Zukerberg did not start alone…

Let’s not forget those important points always stressed by successful entrepreneurs; you need somebody you trust to bounce back ideas, to suffer with you the up’s and downs of the entrepreneurial journey…and also the humbleness to accept you are not perfect and do not know it all. There is a limited learning one single individual can experiment at the time…what is important in a start-up is how fast you can learn, pivot and implement. Alone, this takes a lot of time…