9 Deadliest Startup Sins

1. Assuming you know what the customer wants

2. The “I know what features to build” flaw

3. Focusing on the launch date

4. Emphasizing execution instead of testing, learning, and iteration

5. Writing a business plan that doesn’t allow for trial and error

6. Confusing traditional job titles with a startup’s needs

7. Executing on a sales and marketing plan

8. Prematurely scaling your company based on a presumption of success

9. Management by crisis, which leads to a death spiral

9 Deadliest Startup Sins, by Steve Blank

(via collaborative fund)

9 Comments leave a comment below

  1. These nine points are precisely those that Steve Jobs did not follow to make Apple what it is today.

  2. Yes. This is highly superficial. Like most “…est, …est” lists.

  3. Not everyone is as talented as Steve Jobs. It’s still nice to have pointers.

  4. Anonymous:

    You right.

  5. Hi all previous commenters :-) This list comes from a rather long chain of “via’s”. In order for you to understand this list, you should probably read Steve Blanks blog (that’s where this comes from) at http://steveblank.com/ . I’ve been following him closely, very interesting guy, he doesn’t just jot this down for no reason. (He also has explanations to each point.)

  6. #1: Spend cash flow like it was found money. Spend reserve capital like it was decades off your life.

    (shift all the others down)

    This, more than anything else I’ve seen, causes most business ventures to fail. If it’s not income, you should be desperately trying to NOT spend it. It’s the thing that will keep your venture alive when there is no income — which can be as much as five years in many cases. Income, you can be profligate with — spend it on sprucing up the image, entertaining customers with flash, and so forth. But your reserve you spend only on the stuff you absolutely must, and ask someone not connected to your business to make you prove to THEM that any purchase is an “absolutely must” purchase.

    I saw a company blow through a half-million dollars setting up fancy offices and a beautiful front, because “they needed to look professional”. They never got a single customer. Failed after 15 months. Should have gotten a cash flow FIRST, then set up the offices.

    I saw another one that blew through 200 grand in their first 18 months, including a suite of about 4 offices, a secretary, two software people, and the owner/manager. They had no product to sell, they were creating it. What did they need a suite for? They could have operated out of a big closet for what they did. They might have had 100 grand of that still remaining, and stayed in business long enough to finish their product. Now they’re long dead history.


    It’s ugly, you hate it, but it matters AS MUCH OR MORE THAN YOUR wonderful and vaunted DESIGN SKILLS.

    As the song goes — “money makes the world go ’round, the world go ’round… that plinking planking sound….”

    You don’t have to like it, but don’t fight it — you’ll lose — every time.

  7. And let’s not forget bad hiring decisions and wrong co-founder mix :)

  8. Very, very, very nice ideas! It was so funny to me. And as someone said already, this are all the points every CEO of a biggest enterprise have to forget…

  9. I’ve met so many people who seriously need to read this and take it on board since finishing uni in 2008.

    As a designer who has championed some of these ideas and been shot down for it, because ‘your just a designer’, its refreshing to know that I haven’t always been wrong :)

    I will absolutely take on board these points when starting my small business, and yea, I have already made a few mistakes! Thanks for sharing.

    Herman Van: I like your addition. I’ve been the tightest spender ever with my idea-soon-to-be-business, I feel mean for not spending a penny (literally) more than I have to. Glad that someone else thinks thats the right thing to do.