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9 Deadliest Start-up Sins

Abstract from https://www.startups.co/articles

Beware: These nine flawed assumptions are toxic.

  1. Assuming you know what the customer wants –

    On Day One, a start-up is a faith-based initiative built on guesses.

    To succeed, founders need to turn these guesses into facts as soon as possible by getting out of the building, asking customers if the hypotheses are correct, and quickly changing those that are wrong.

  2. The “I know what features to build” flaw –

    Founders, that presuming to know their customers need, specify, design and build a fully featured product using classicproduct development methods without ever leaving their building.

  3. Focusing on the launch date –

    The product launch and first customer ship dates are merely the dates when a product development team thinks the product’s first release is “finished.”

  4. Emphasizing execution instead of testing, learning, and iteration –

    Start-ups, differently from the established companies that have all known, need to operate in a “search” mode as they test and prove every one of their initial hypotheses.

    They learn from the results of each test, refine the hypothesis, and test again.

  5. Writing a business plan that doesn’t allow for trial and error –

    The problem of traditional business plans and product development is, none of its metrics are very useful because they don’t track progress against your start-up’s only goal: to find a repeatable and scalable business model.

  6. Confusing traditional job titles with a startup’s needs –

    Most startups simply borrow job titles from established companies. But remember, these are jobs in an organization that’s executing a known business model.

  7. Executing on a sales and marketing plan –

    In a majority of startups, measuring progress against a product launch or revenue plan is simply false progress, since it transpires in a vacuum absent real customer feedback and rife with assumptions that might be wrong.

  8. Prematurely scaling your company based on a presumption of success –

    The business model leaves little room for error, learning, iteration, or customer feedback.

    Even the most experienced executives are pressured to hire and staff per the plan regardless of progress. This leads to the next startup disaster: premature scaling.

  9. Management by crisis, which leads to a death spiral –

    The consequences of most start-up mistakes begin to show by the time of first customer ship, when sales aren’t happening according to “the plan.” Shortly thereafter, the sales VP is probably terminated as part of the “solution.”

 

Here’s the real problem: No business plan survives first contact with customers.

The assumptions in a business plan are simply a series of untested  hypotheses. When real results come in, the smart startups pivot or change their business model based on the results.

It’s not a crisis, it’s part of the road to success.

 

More details at https://www.startups.co/articles

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