Tuesday, June 10, 2008

10 Mistakes from My Last Startup

This post has been running through my head for a while. I think it's time...

1. At work too often too much
- since the first day we took BPG seriously, we never took "working hours" seriously. We worked 14-16 hour days 7 days a week. We definitely got a shit load of work done, but we started to fatigue 12+ months later. And since we were so used to working all day everyday, anything less than the 14-16 hour days started to make us feel like we were slacking. It was not healthy culture.

2. Not hiring with my instincts - I made the fatal mistake of making a blind hiring decision. Not only did I make a mistake, but I ignored the problem until it was way too late. The team is a priority, it was written in stone since the very beginning of the mission statement (when we were still joking about snorting coke and hookers in a garage) and yet it was ignored. The mistake cost the entire venture.

3. Delegating leadership too early - it seemed to me at one point that one of my goals was to instill leadership among the partners. That was a great idea at the wrong time and possibly the wrong people. The startup was not in a position to pay for those lessons yet.

4. No concrete analytics - We had a good idea where users were funneling out of our product, but we never had numbers to demonstrate it. If we had better analytics in place, we would have been able to prioritize and focus on what mattered to us most. As a startup, we have to be as efficient with as resources as possibly possible.

5. Not learning from version1 - I'm not the techie of the bunch so I can't say for sure, but I feel we were making technical decisions without enough information. In hindsight, I feel we made the same mistakes on version 2 of the product as on version 1. It was not my decision, but it also wasn't impossible for me to seek consultation from outside (especially when version1 was trouble).

6. The business world is relentless - businesses are about profits, advantages, cunnery, pros and cons, etc... The business world does not give a f*ckin shit if you are left to die on the streets. They will con you to put themselves ahead.

7. Surround oneself with those in the know - consultants, experts, advisors, mentors are all incredibly useful resources. They are wisdom and expertise you do not have the time and resources to pay for (otherwise you are already a millionaire). Get one get many, I realized this and took advantage too late.

8. Technology can never be perfect - we spent so much time and energy chasing the perfect technology. There will always be something better, and your team will always find out there is something better out there that we has missed out on using when it's already too late.

9. Business research - Would things have changed if we had performed more business research? Probably.

10. Goodwill only brings you so far - our company was idealistic. Not a bad thing if you're Google and already incredibly profitable. But we weren't and it didn't matter we had built up plenty of goodwill that was worth nothing at the end.

I feel like i'm at the end of my wound licking. They say entrepreneurship is like learning to ride a bicycle, I guessing I'm stubborn enough to keep trying. I tell myself it's okay as long as I spend the time to reflect and not fall for the same traps in the future.

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