The Toughest Lessons for Startups – You Don’t Want to Learn These the Hard Way!

No one ever said that life in a startup was every going to be easy. But you’re made of tougher stuff than that, right?
You’ve faced the highs and the lows to get this far. You’ve been through the knocks and you have the bruises to show for it. But some lessons? Some lessons are seriously tough. They’re not just the kind of ones that get you questioning why you got on this whole rollercoaster in the first place. They’re the ones that have you looking for the emergency ejector seat.

Luckily – you don’t have to go through them, as someone’s already been there before you. So read on – soak up the wisdom – and make sure you stay clear of those really bad mistakes!

The Long Goodbye

You know when someone just isn’t right for you. They might have come with all the right credentials – but throw them in a real life scenario, and it’s just not working out. That’s the time for a quick, sharp break up. Hate to say it – but dragging it out could cost you. A lot. As a startup, you need to have your team on the ball right from the outset. And if someone’s not a good fit, then waiting longer than you need to, is not just painful – it could totally mess you up.

Losing focus

You’re bursting with ideas! So much awesome – so little time. But keep your eye on the prize. If you want to get to the top, then you’re going to need some serious Zen-warrior focus. You’re working with a limited amount of resources and time, so you want to be practical with it, right? As soon as you start dissipating your energies on a bunch of different projects, they’re all going to start to suffer.

There really is no ‘I’ in team

It’s tempting to think you can do everything yourself – especially if you’ve got a stellar track record for being pretty damn creative, imaginative and an all round entrepreneurial superstar. But the reality is …you can’t. Even if you are mega-talented, there’ll come a time when your commitment to your startup is going to eat away at the rest of your life. You need to get on board with a good team and recognise that each person has an important part to play.
Are you the Hipster, Hacker or Hustler? Focus on your role and what you can contribute to everyone else.


This is one of those newbie mistakes that a lot of people make and think that they can somehow get away with. You want to compete with the rest – so why not charge 50% less than what you know you’re worth? Why not? It’s not a sustainable approach in the long term. Because competing on price is ultimately a loser’s game. Someone else will always come along with a cheaper offer. So stick to what you’re worth!

Want some more great tough lessons? Check out Slava Akhmechet’s great post on the lessons learned along his way!

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