If you’re planning to make a startup, last time we showed you some techniques of bootstrapping money for it. This time we’ll share some piece of advice about what you shouldn’t do when starting your business. If you are going to avoid making the same mistakes that so many entrepreneurs have made, the first step is to be able to recognize them. So, this post offers a high-level overview of the trends to avoid when you do a startup.
We will talk about 5 dominant narratives that not only harm employees but lead to weaker companies and worse products.
- Venture Capital often pushes what could’ve been a successful small business to over-expand and ultimately fail; prevents companies from focusing their priorities; distracts from finding a monetization plan; causes conflict due to the misalignment of incentives between VCs and founders, and is full of far too many unethical bullies and thugs.
- Hypergrowth is nearly impossible to manage and leads to communication failures, redundant work, burnout, and high employee attrition. Typically involves: chaos, inefficiency, and severe burn-out (none of which is good for your business). Burnout is a very real and expensive problem in the tech industry, and hypergrowth routinely leads to burnout.
- Trying to be “like a family” severely limits your pool of potential employees, leaves you unprepared for conflict or HR incidents, and sets employees up to feel betrayed. You’re not actually a family; you are a company. You will need to make hard decisions for the sake of the business. You can’t actually offer people anything remotely close to lifelong loyalty or security, and it’s dishonest to implicitly do so.
- Attempting to productionize a PhD thesis is rarely a good business plan. The priorities and values of academia and business are drastically different. In the business world, products are not evaluated on underlying theoretical novelty, but on implementation, ease-of-use, effectiveness, and how they relate to revenues.
- Hiring a bunch of academic researchers will not improve your product and harms your company by diverting so many resources (unless your goal is an acquihire).
This post was inspired by a round-table discussion that Rachel Thomas led on the topics of founding start-ups and personal branding at the Women in Machine Learning Workshop and has more information about the Rachel’s experience in making startup that you can find here.