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Start Your Business Startup Basics

How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Startup Mistakes

New business owners make a lot of mistakes. Not all of them need to be fatal, however.

In his new book, “How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America” (RedFlash Press, November 2010), entrepreneur Robert Jordan asked successful entrepreneurs how they found their success. Their answers, in part, detail their mistakes and how they avoided repeating them.

Jordan shared a sampling of his findings with BusinessNewsDaily.

1)    Trying to avoid failing is a mistake. Instead: look at each failure and see if that could be the source of the real home run. Another big revelation: most home runs were because of Plan B, not Plan A. Bill Merchantz’s software company, Lakeview Technology, had a spectacular failure, software that crashed on a big client. They worked feverishly to restore functionality and invent disaster- recovery software. In the end the client left. But the big win? The disaster-recovery software, not the original product.

2)      Hiring the wrong people is a mistake. One piece of advice from Tribeca Flashpoint founder Howard Tullman: founders should never do the hiring, because we entrepreneurs are in love with our products and can’t stop talking. Smart candidates sit there, nod, don’t say a word, entrepreneur falls in love with them, they get hired. Big mistake. Delegate hiring. Pansophic founder Joe Piscopo said the first order of business for a CEO: take up-to-date courses on hiring.

3)      Not being willing to give up control is a mistake. This is not the same thing as giving up equity. Big success is never a solo act. Great founders develop partners and/or great management teams without fail.

4)     Complacency is a mistake. Champions always do one more thing, have one more backup, one more Plan B. How many times have you heard about a company that came so close? But they just missed because of the Internet bubble bursting, or the recession, or …. The experience of these founders is not that they didn’t hit obstacles — they did. They just kept moving.

5)      Designing the “perfect” product is a mistake. Especially in technology, things move too fast, and attempting to achieve perfection can mean completely missing the market. Only by being in the market can you improve, learn, and eventually make something great.