The Nine Deadly Startup Diseases

| Aug 23, 2008 | comment 4 Comments

VirusesBuilding a successful startup is no easy feat; There are a number of problems that founders can face and that can hurt their startups, even fatally.

A really interesting article was published on Sitepoint recently about the nine deadly startup diseases and how they can be cured; I thought I’d share the nine points here in my own words.

The list of deadly diseases goes as follows:

1. The Imaginary User Syndrome: Having no idea who your target audience are will only lead to a lack of direction for your startup, many problems marketing it, and even possible failure. A core target audience has to be defined and reached out to.

2. The Frenetic Distraction Pox: Where time and effort is invested in the early days of a startup is very important; the obvious choice is on building the product, attracting users, reaching objectives; other non-essential tasks can wait for later.

3. The Wrong Hire Infection: Hiring the wrong people at the initial stages of a startup could prove very problematic and even fatal for it; a certain caliber of employees, commitment, skills and passion are really important.

4. The Implicit Promise Fever: Basing your startup on implicit agreements and assumptions with the co-founders and members without anything written down to clarify things like share percentages, voting rights, what do if there is a disagreement or if things don’t work out too well, can only lead to a bunch of problems that could haunt the startup.

5. The Stealth Product Delusion: Waiting as long as possible before starting to show the product to people for feedback under the pretext that it should be perfect is a mistake; the earlier people start giving feedback on the product, the earlier and easier you can factor their ideas into the product and know if you’re on the right track.

6. The Wrong Platform Fracture: Choosing the wrong platform (language, framework, technology) to build your product could come at a very costly price if at a later stage it turns out that it doesn’t fulfill all your needs, isn’t able to scale or isn’t flexible enough; so the decision should be a very well researched one before taking the leap into development.

7. The Other Interest Disorder: Working on other different projects or startups in parallel could prove fatal for a startup, especially in its initial phases of its life, when it needs all the time and effort it can get and more. Focus and dedication are of utmost importance.

8. The Perfection Hallucination: Perfectionism could hurt a startup more than it helps; it has to be balanced with a good deal of pragmatism to know just when the right point is to put the product or new feature out there for users and continue tweaking, enhancing and factoring in feedback later on.

9. The Marketing Blind Spot: The idea of ‘Build it, and they will come’, as enticing as it is, doesn’t always hold true; relying solely on word of mouth marketing could cost the startup its life; every startup needs a certain specific combination of marketing techniques to get through to people and builds its user base; all those techniques and options have to be explored.

You can read the full article with more details here: Nine Deadly Startup Diseases – and How to Cure Them.

  • http://www.yamli.com Habib Haddad

    So true ! A few comments

    I can’t agree more with 3. but I would recommend this to be expanded also to corporate lawyers, IP lawyers, consultants, accountants … Surround your self with the best, it’s amazing how sometimes a good lawyer could do. (Make an intro, give a tip from his experience … )

    I would like to also add a 10th deadly mistake:

    Raising funds at the wrong time from the wrong people: Raising from the wrong sources could be in some cases deadly. Know when and who to raise money from !

  • http://www.yamli.com Habib Haddad

    So true ! A few comments

    I can’t agree more with 3. but I would recommend this to be expanded also to corporate lawyers, IP lawyers, consultants, accountants … Surround your self with the best, it’s amazing how sometimes a good lawyer could do. (Make an intro, give a tip from his experience … )

    I would like to also add a 10th deadly mistake:

    Raising funds at the wrong time from the wrong people: Raising from the wrong sources could be in some cases deadly. Know when and who to raise money from !

  • http://www.startuparabia.com Mohamed Marwen Meddah

    I totally agree with you Habib; the third point applies to everyone you work with and your business depends on for one thing or another.

    And it is true, some people rush to raise money, without thinking of the when and who; and that’s wrong. Picking an investor is like picking a partner or co-founder, the match should be quasi-perfect. The timing should be studied very well too, to optimize its effect.

  • http://www.subzeroblue.com Mohamed Marwen Meddah

    I totally agree with you Habib; the third point applies to everyone you work with and your business depends on for one thing or another.

    And it is true, some people rush to raise money, without thinking of the when and who; and that’s wrong. Picking an investor is like picking a partner or co-founder, the match should be quasi-perfect. The timing should be studied very well too, to optimize its effect.

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