There are countless articles and posts out there that tell you what you should do in order to become a successful entrepreneur. Actually, we have published one as well not long ago (see How To Become A Successful Entrepreneur). However, as always there are two sides to that story. There are of course also some things you should not do if you want to successfully build your startup.
So for the sake of completeness we decided to take a look at the issue from another perspective for a change. As a result, we came up with 7 simple steps to ruin your startup. But before you read on, please be advised that the following paragraphs may contain traces of sarcasm. In fact, some passages may even appear cynical to the attentive reader. So please, do not take the following list too seriously.
1) Do not take any risks
You have probably heard the phrase “no risk no fun” before. It’s something crazy people say before they do stupid things. So unless you are into skydiving, bungee jumping, or any other activity that requires a death wish, there is no reason for you to live by that slogan. With regards to your startup it should also be pretty obvious why taking risks is a bad thing. Because it involves risk. Duh. To be fair in some cases, if you were to take risks, there might be a tiny chance of success. It might even turn out as the best decision you ever took and you could live happily ever after. But yeah, that’s probably not going to happen and you’d most likely regret it for the rest of your life, so just don’t do it. You know how they say in sports, “you can’t win if you don’t play.” Well guess what, you can’t lose either. But more importantly, if you don’t play, you can still pretend you could have won. In other words, if you don’t even start (i.e. don’t take any risks) you can always tell people you’ve got the next big thing, without actually having to prove it, because they can’t prove you wrong either. Genius.
2) Try to do it all by yourself
One of first and most important decisions you will have to face is, if you want to found your startup alone or with a team. Researchers generally suggest that startup teams are more successful than single entrepreneurs. Uhm yeah, they were probably thinking about teams like Mark Zuckerberg and his team, or Richard Branson and his team, or Jeff Bezos and his team… you get the point right? Let’s face it, if you want to make it to the top, you will have to do it all by yourself. But that’s not so bad actually, because there is probably no one out there who is as talented and capable as you are anyways. At the end of the day, you will be much better off if you don’t have to babysit any cofounders or partners. It’s not like they could contribute much to your idea in the first place. Worst case they would develop their own ideas and you’d have to argue with them and actually start thinking in more detail about your idea. Ugh. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your venture. However, if you absolutely can’t do it on your own for some reason, you might still have to include someone else. In that case, don’t spend too much time looking for someone with similar ideas or a complementary skillset. It’s not like you are going to listen to what they have to say anyways, right? So just go with the next best person you can find.
3) Avoid talking to other people about your venture
This one should be a no-brainer. The only thing other people will do if you tell them about your venture is steal your ideas. It’s sad but true. They won’t even care about the fact that you probably have a significant advantage because you’ve already spent a huge amount of time working on your idea and developing it. They will start copying your idea immediately after you finish talking to them. You should definitely be worried about that. Everybody is a potential competitor. Just think about it for a second. Most people would rather pursue a vague idea (of which they don’t even know whether it might ever be successful) than have a secure and high paying job. They are just waiting to jump ship and become entrepreneurs like you. So there is absolutely no benefit for you if you talk to other people about your venture. You’ll hardly ever find anyone who will give you valuable feedback or offer new thoughts that hadn’t crossed your mind before. And you won’t be able to significantly increase your network either. And even if that were the case… you’d just end up with more people who could potentially steal your idea. So just shush.
4) Do not take advice from anyone
If you follow step 3 (see above) you should not encounter too many situations where people try to give you advice. However, if it still happens, you shouldn’t take it. There is absolutely no added value in doing so. What could these people possibly know that you have not already considered? And if they actually did come up with something you have not thought of before, of what importance could that possibly be? Given the fact that you’re probably the only one who truly understands your business idea anyways, you are the expert. There may be other people who work in the same industry or people have successfully founded multiple companies similar to yours, but that does not make them any more of an expert than you are. They may be more experienced than you, but we all know that experiences are made in the past. You don’t take advice from a history book, do you? No, because you are not trying to be successful yesterday. Your time is now, you are here to shape the future.
5) Make sure your product is perfect right from the start
The last thing you want to do is enter the market with an unfinished product. If you want to be better than the market, your product has to be better than your competitor’s offering. In fact, it doesn’t only have to be better, it has to be perfect. Right from the start. Think about it, no one is going to buy a product that does not meet their needs. When was the last time you bought something you were not completely satisfied with (except for all the occasions you probably just remembered). Anyways, since you don’t exactly know who your customers are, you just have to meet all potential needs. Yup, all of them. Some people like small cars, others like big cars. So your car has to be small and big at the same time. Some people like red jackets, others like blue ones, so your jackets have to be red and blue. Don’t settle for just one out of two customers if you can have them both, even if you can’t. Just make sure your product is perfect for everybody before you enter the market and you will be fine. It’s that simple.
6) Don’t waste money on promoting your product
Ok, if you’ve done everything right, you should have a perfect product by now. So far so good. But you are probably wondering how you are going to get people to buy it. Should you spend a fortune on advertising or any other type of promotion? Nope, definitely not. Let’s look at the reasoning behind this. Companies need promotion to convince people to buy their products. But unlike all the other companies your product is perfect, so there is no need to convince anyone. People will want to buy it as soon as they see it… they would be foolish not to do so. And they will tell others about their great purchase, so word-of-mouth will do all the work for you. No need to spend big bucks on advertising. And if for some odd reason, there are still people don’t want to buy from you after all… well, joke’s on them, because they are the ones who are missing out. It’s not like you need them. They’ll soon enough realize they are the ones who need you. So just sit back and wait for them to come back.
7) Stick with your initial plan
Now that we have covered the most important aspects, there is just one last thing to remember: never change your initial plan! If you have done everything we mentioned above, there is really no reason why you would have to reconsider anything. Yeah, maybe the circumstances have changed, that is possible. That actually happens quite often, to be honest. But why would you have to adapt to them? Let’s it real here for a moment; your plan was perfect when you developed it, so it must still be perfect simply because you haven’t changed anything since then. The mere fact that it is not suitable for a given situation anymore should not discourage you. Why don’t you just go out there and try to change the world instead of your venture? That’s long overdue anyways. Just look at all the things that are going wrong out there at the moment. And while you are at it, just recreate your environment the way you need it. This is how most people do it, so it must be right.
In a nutshell
There are countless articles and posts out there that tell you how to successfully build your startup. However, there are two sides to that story, so for the sake of completeness we decided to take a look at the issue from another perspective for a change. As a result, we have come up with the following 7 simple steps to ruin your startup: 1) Do not take any risk, 2) Try to do it all by yourself, 3) Avoid talking to other people about your venture, 4) Do not take advice from anyone, 5) Make sure your product is perfect right from the start, 6) Don’t waste money on promoting your product, 7) Stick with your initial plan. If you follow these simple steps your startup won’t last very long… guaranteed!