Starting a new business is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, ambition and a concrete plan. Many people will be eager to support you on your journey, but some might actually give you advice that could hurt your chances of success. Here, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council list a collection of “Unlucky 13” of the worst startup tips they’ve been given and explain why these misguided startup tips are so harmful to first-time entrepreneurs.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever heard about building a startup, and why is that advice so harmful?
1. Put your personal life on hold
There’s nothing wrong with having drive, ambition and restlessness. You’ll need all three to succeed as an entrepreneur, but not at the expense of a lifetime. No matter how much money you make, time is the one thing you can’t buy back. Developing a successful business at the expense of your personal well-being and relationships is short-term and usually unsustainable. Do not do it. —Mark Stallings, Casely, Inc.
2. Do what you love and the money will follow
The worst advice for building a startup is to say that if you do what you love, the money will follow. It is simply not true. Every year, there are millions of startups where entrepreneurs do what they love, but no one wants their product or service, or they don’t have the marketing or infrastructure to succeed. —Baruch Labunski, Secure Rank
3. Grow as fast as possible
It makes me nervous for budding entrepreneurs when I hear them being told to grow as fast as possible and get started. Of course, the goal is to succeed, grow and thrive. But rapid growth comes with its own set of problems. One of the biggest challenges for any business owner is cash flow. Growing too fast creates huge cash gaps. Grow, but grow wisely. —Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
4. There is a market for all ideas
“There’s a market for all ideas” is one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve heard as a founder. It is simply not true. To be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to research your idea to make sure people will want to buy it and offer something a little different than what’s already on the market. —Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
5. Wait for the perfect moment
The worst advice I’ve heard about starting a startup is to wait for the perfect time. This advice is so harmful because there will never be a “perfect” moment. This advice will only lead to analysis paralysis, and chances are you will never start. If you have an idea, execute it, even if it’s only with a minimum viable product. —Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
6. Don’t quit your day job
While it’s important to build yourself a financial trail for anything that might come your way, if you’re serious about a startup, you’ll eventually (sooner than you like) have to quit your day job so you can focus fully on being where the opportunity is. —Andy Karuza, LitPicMore articles from AllBusiness.com:
7. Let the legal lead the innovation
“Let innovation lead innovation” is the worst piece of advice when it comes to building a startup. While legal is important, overspending on legal can initially bleed a startup dry before it has a chance to develop the core product/service and launch. —Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC
8. Keep your idea a secret
“Keep your idea a secret” is a terrible idea because if you don’t tell anyone about your product or service before launch, you don’t get valuable feedback that could help you make changes to it before launch. You’re missing out on validation or customer feedback by keeping your idea in “stealth mode” for too long. —Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
9. Waking up at 4am
Waking up at 4 a.m. is bad advice unless that’s your natural cycle. This suggests that you must be a slave to every element of your business to be successful. The worst business owners micromanage and are always on the go, but rarely produce great work because they don’t take breaks. Cultivate a work-life balance, sleep in, and don’t micromanage. It is actually more efficient. —Matthieu Capala, alphametic
10. Get as much funding as possible early on
One of the worst tips I’ve heard about building a startup is to get as much funding as possible as soon as possible to fuel growth. The reality is that having too much funding can be a bad thing, especially early in a startup’s life before product-market fit is fully established and customer acquisition costs (CAC) are weak or even non-existent. Burning funds on advertising (high CAC) can kill a startup. —Richard Fong, PageKits.com
11. It’s okay to risk everything
I think “it’s okay to risk everything for your startup” is the worst advice I’ve ever heard about building a startup. Businesses don’t become profitable overnight. It takes time, effort and money to achieve the profits you want. Nothing can be more dangerous than risking everything, especially finances, in the initial phase. —Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
12. Don’t reinvent the wheel
One of the worst tips I’ve heard about building a startup was “don’t reinvent the wheel”, which implies that a startup should have completely breakthrough innovation instead of incremental improvements to existing frustrations in the process. This advice blocks creativity and forces the founder into an unhealthy dynamic when thinking about an idea. —Daria Gonzalez, Wunderdogs
13. You have to work 24/7 to be successful
Not only is this advice wrong, but following this advice can also be the reason your business is not succeeding. It is simply not enough to work hard. You also need inspiration and creativity, as well as help from other people. And those are things that you won’t create space for if you work all the time. —Blair Williams, MemberPress
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