What was the biggest mistake you made in your startup?

In discovered a best answer for this question from fastcompany .com

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Managers Make That Hinder A Lean Startup

1. TRYING TO SELL TO NEW CUSTOMERS RATHER THAN TAKING CARE OF EXISTING CUSTOMERS

Many managers feel that existing customers are owned, so they worry about acquiring new ones, but the truth is that reselling to a loyal customer is much, much cheaper than acquiring a new one, and any market has a natural renewal rate. By reselling to every customer you can build a stable business, which will in turn attract new customers with word of mouth and reputation.

2. FOCUSING ON COSTS RATHER THAN CASH

Most of the reporting management structure is built on the P&L sheet and the fiction of the bottom-line. As a result, your managers are constantly fighting to lower cost decisions at the expense of generating cash for the business. The purchasing manager chooses the lowest-cost supplier, rather than the most responsive with best quality. The footprint manager picks the lowest-cost area rather than look at minimizing travel cash outlays for products, components, and engineers. Every one of these decisions burdens your company with unnecessary cash spends–and the chances are, you yourself are rewarding your managers for making your company slower and fatter on the fiction that they’re “reducing costs.”

3. LOOKING FOR SYSTEMIC, SYSTEMATIC SOLUTIONS RATHER THAN TACKLING CONCRETE PROBLEMS ONE AT A TIME

The feeling is that, first, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it; but then when we’ve come to terms with the fact that it is broke, let’s find a once-and-for-all solution. That’s plain silly. As a result, staff directors are always inventing Rube Goldberg programs and systems to fix operational problems. The site manager is snowed under 1) the burning fires caused by real process screw-ups and 2) the various audits and systems imposed by corporate that don’t do the business any good but make sure the various support directors can show they’ve done their job well (new IT system anyone?). Operational problems are local and detailed and we’ll learn more by solving them concretely and specifically one by one rather than by looking for hyper-solutions to issues we don’t fully understand. But it’s easier to throw a huge chunk of cash at a new toy (new system, new plant, new program) than deal with the grittiness of real value-level problems. Don’t reform: make it work!

4. IGNORING THE FACT THAT IT ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO INDIVIDUAL SKILLS GAPS

Frederick Taylor has posthumously convinced us all that the system matters more than the person–after all, employees will do what the system dictates, won’t they? Not really. Each specific situation needs a degree of good judgment to be handled smartly and this requires constant training to deepen both the understanding of the fundamentals of the job and the context of every situation. Any problem is, at its root a question of skills and tools and no system yet has shown any degree of wisdom. By focusing on processes rather than accepting that a process is the sum of what people do, managers ignore their own employees and miss the most fundamental source of innovation and productivity: people’s smarts and initiative.

5. DISMISSING MORALE AS A GAME-CHANGER

Just as existing customers are often considered owned, managers feel that employees work for them because they have to. This is absurd as history has proved time and time again how big a difference morale can make: people need to feel confident that they have a future because their managers are competent and will treat them fairly. How hard can that be? Every time someone acts on a new idea or decision ask yourself: Is this improving common trust or, on the contrary, damaging it? What you allow will continue.

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Answer source: on Fastcompany.com