Founders’ Silent Struggle — The Biggest Startup Problems (Part 2)

by Inga Stasiulionyte — Originally published on ofounders

Bright lights glaring in the city sky like stars. You take an array of stairs to arrive at the rooftop to meet the most daring souls and world-changing minds. Drinks, music, the chatter seems like a glamorous festivity.

However, founders have a different meaning of a party. It is a heat of networking, promoting, fundraising and pretending to celebrate a glorious life. In these places, everyone is defined only by what product or service they are building, how much they raised, hired, and scaled.

The biggest problems that founders have to solve in order to survive a crash are:

1. Money

Everything costs much more than you could ever account for because of how many expensive mistakes need to be corrected in the process of innovation.

“Our product will revolutionize the industry. We are about to sign big clients. In a year we will be earning millions” passionately tells every founder. Many times behind a confident posture and a wide smile is a racing heart from knowing that only two months left of funds before collapsing a startup and personal life.

The biggest mistake that founders make is by putting all their savings in the company and losing the safety net. It makes them desperate in negotiations rushing into the destructive deals.

“You cannot build a stable startup if you have everything to lose” emphasized Dr.Wasim Mohideen, founder of TechMed Healthcare.

Interviewed founders advised starting raising money not too early and not too late, accounting for around 2 to 6 months before closing the round. The key is to find investors who also will help to manage a startup or to whom you could return when you would need to raise the other rounds.

2. Team

Raising money is a very demanding task and at the same time founder is obligated to run a company that would be worth new investments. Many times the team needs to step up for a founder.

“Too many startups consist of the personalities that were focused on building too big of the egos during their life. The heightened ego gets them accomplished in their careers, however, in the startup life, it stagnates the growth due to its inflexibility” noted one of the founders.

Unfortunately, in many cases, a lot of people internally in the startup find all the reasons to say “no” instead of “yes.”

The hardest part for startup founders is building a team that would be independent, mature, motivated, and is able to pivot quickly.

Energy is contagious and when so many things are failing especially in the early days of the startup it’s very important to have a team that boosts each other’s spirits up, that knows how to fail and get up with more power.

“Finding a good team is core. I invested a whole year to build my team. It’s not about talent it’s about how they are eager to learn, grow, and update themselves” shared the interviewed founder.

3. Validation

Many times the initial idea has to mutate multiple times looking for the perfect fit that is not only workable but the most importantly sellable and scalable.

Founders especially coming from the technical side make a mistake to underestimate the complexities of sales. No matter how beautifully the product will be functioning it will never be sold if no one will know about it. Marketing and sales are not as straightforward as it sounds and it requires a significant investment of time and money. Sales strategy development cannot be discounted at the beginning of the product or service creation.

“Spend more time speaking with users from the first steps of the product or service development so you would not have a chance to fall in love with your creation that is not working” one of the significant learnings that, Tommaso Troiani, founder of themergingproject.com had.

To find a sweet spot is a calculated miracle that demands a dedicated focus on studying and serving a consumer. Testing with the real customers every step of the new product and service development for validation becomes a core in a startup.

The math is simple: no customers and no sales means no future for the business.

Read founders insights in the interview series: “Founder’s silent struggle”.

Sign up to Ofounders newsletter not to miss the Olympian mindset development techniques for founders! Inga Stasiulionyte, Olympian, founders coach, and sports industry consultant, shares the high-performance insights and case studies of the challenges that her clients face. Join the Sportstartup Slack group to be a part of the sports industry community.

Originally published at https://medium.com on February 18, 2020.

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