6 Mistakes Every Startup Makes and How to Avoid Them

Are you a new entrepreneur? I am sure you have a lot of energy, but be careful with these mistakes


Adam Skali

3 years ago | 6 min read

1)Don’t look down on the business model Canvas

When I started I couldn’t understand the point of the business model canvas. Much less having to go through the whole process when you are low on time and cash.

I assumed that all the value within a project was in the idea. That projects lived and died on how good the idea was, and indeed projects might but not businesses.

It all depends on how you bring value. To whom and how you reach them. Because sometimes people don’t want the value you are providing or don’t need it. This sentence is the most important for any startup and they should help you fill it in.

For (target customer) who are dissatisfied with (current alternative) our product provides X which is unlike (the product alternative).

2)Asking customers is step number 1

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash
Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

I know I know, this has been mentioned too many times. Yet we still forget about or act as if we didn’t hear it, and the reason comes from fear.

Growing as an introvert it wasn’t in me to actually go out and speak with people. I was scared of actually asking possible customers.

It made me uncomfortable and actually, it still does but now I can muster up the courage to just go and ask them. So a few mistakes when asking customers:

  1. No, surveys don’t really cut it out at the start. Sure they might be a good option once you understand the market. But when you are starting in a new market it’s too easy to screw up.
  2. Be careful with pressuring people into saying yes, most of the time they don’t mean it. I learned the hard way that all the interviews I did before were useless. Asking people whether your ideas are good is a way to feed our ego.

It is understandable. We are insecure we think it is a great idea, but everywhere we look there is uncertainty so we need reassurance.

So we end up forcing the poor souls who give us their time to say they like something.

Something that many times they didn’t even understand. This is usually not their fault, but rather ours, as many times we don’t even know what we want to do.


People are nicer than we think and they don’t want to be the ones to hurt you even if they don’t know you. Customers (most of the time) won’t bite you, so just go and ask them.

Tips: Now I start by asking them about their problems and only then do I explain the project. This helps you see how much they actually think that their problem is a problem.

Although another problem that can come along with this is when they like you more than they like the idea. But that is a topic for another time.

3)Don’t stop moving

Photo by Vek Labs on Unsplash
Photo by Vek Labs on Unsplash

The only advantage we have against any big company that wants to do the same is how far are we willing to go, and this depends on discipline.

There are so many things we don’t want to do, so many things we want to run away from. But here we can’t run away from them, we have to face them.

When you are starting unless you do something, nobody else will. You are forced to learn how to face excuses, how to get out of the comfort zone and how to push forward.

This is why discipline is our only advantage.

After reading the ‘’Innovator’s Dilemma’’, I started to understand that the only way startups can survive is by pushing forward.

Companies don’t fail to innovate because they lack technology. But because their cost structure doesn’t allow them to pursue new markets.

The profit isn’t high enough. Nobody wants to put their position at stake for something that will most likely fail.

Now imagine, if it is hard for a startup to get rid of the excuses when we are few, how hard can it get when you have hundreds. The excuses continue piling up until nothing gets done for this new venture.

This makes it so that excuses start to pile up. As the decisions get deferred longer and longer until in the end, a new company enters the sector.


That’s why being small is our biggest advantage. Being small means that the chain of excuses is shorter and we can face our bullshit with more ease.

Speed and boldness should be our core.

4)The importance of networking

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Networking is one of the most important parts of the process. It is one of the few ways to get to know people that could be interested in you or the way you work. It is a way to connect with likeminded people, to get more drive.

To connect with people who can help you make your project a reality. A chance to see that there are more people willing to help you than you imagine.

Through networking alone I was able to get the chance to create a podcast for an association (work in progress), interview CEO of huge companies, get people to help me with all the parts I had no idea about (GDPR is a real pain).

Tips: Go where there are coffee and food, line up even if you don’t want to eat anything, turn around and strike a conversation like:

‘’This is quite random but since we are both here, nice to meet you my name is Adam’’

Just like that. Start a conversation and then ask them about what they do and why they started doing it, with just that you should start to create a connection.

Please don’t ask about how many people they have hired or how much money they raised, it’s plain unpleasant.


Get out of your comfort zone. Find events and try to go to one every two weeks at the minimum and try to meet at least one person with whom you hit it off.

You don’t even have to speak about work, just create a human connection and you will see the difference in some months.


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Managing a team is about doing what nobody else wants to do. This means that we are in charge of making their work as easy as possible.

And this is really hard to do because it means silencing that voice telling us that we want some time to rest, some time off.

It means facing that little details that we think are useless that it won’t help. Yet now I know that if we let that happen once, it will happen a lot more.

And this trickles down because we all know when someone is slacking off and it’s not a nice feeling.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to do everything, learn to delegate and trust.

We can’t handle everything at the same time on our own. We have to learn how to use give and take and give to each the tasks that they are best at.

Tip: There are many people who want to try entrepreneurship and by sharing what you learn with them, they might help you with tasks.


Don’t sign up to be a CEO just for the title. Leadership is about sacrifice and helping your team perform at their best. Try to make the most of your network, it can help you in ways you didn’t even imagine.

6)The importance of having a goal and the dangers of side projects

Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash
Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash

It is easy to lose sight of the problem you want to solve. It is so easy to find side projects and get distracted by them. You end up losing sight of the goal and going for the shots of dopamine.

Side projects are dangerous when you are facing a challenge. Because starting anything is way easier than getting something working.

When you find yourself with too many side projects, we won’t admit it usually. Well, when you feel overwhelmed when you don’t want to do certain tasks when you try to procrastinate whenever you can when you keep pushing things back.

You most likely have too many commitments.


Try not to lose focus. Because it is impossible to lead a project when you have to worry about 5 others. They all need different details even if the macro strategy is the same the day will come when they come crashing down.

If you feel lost try to assess how many things you are doing and get rid of anything that doesn’t help you mentally or professionally.

Tip: A great way to steer clear of this is journaling. Every week take 1 hour and sit down. Assess where you are right now, where you want to be and the steps needed.

And anything that isn’t needed or can be used should be shelved for some time.


Created by

Adam Skali

CEO at MidasTimes. Former biophysicist, and currently Writer | Podcaster. I work in the fields of mental health, productivity and marketing







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