‘We just love making mistakes’ said no start-up, ever. Because let’s be real, it doesn’t feel good. The only positive thing about it, is that we can learn from our mistakes and do better next time. But what if you can learn from mistakes without experiencing them?

We are not saying mistakes are bad. We’re saying, if it’s possible to let other people make mistakes for you, why not take use out of it? That’s why we grant you the three most common mistakes made by start-ups. Together with our start-up scout Linda Vermaat we’ve made this selection.

Mistake 1: looking for money when it’s already too late
Getting money always takes way longer than you would expect. Since it can take about a year to find investors, it’s too late to start looking for them when your business is already running smoothly. Limited time makes you stressed and eager, probably affecting your negotiating-skills (not in the best way). Also, investors have a trained nose for despair, once they smell it, it reflects badly on your business.

Our tip: start early. This will give you time to connect with people on a friendly basis and build strong relationships. Go to Amsterdam Capital House and approach people that seem nice, even when you’re not in need of cash yet.

Mistake 2: having an unbalanced team
If you thought getting married gives you a high chance for divorce, we’ve got some news for you. 80% of business partnerships eventually fail. Our keywords: complementary skills. This prevents conflicts and helps to bring out the best in each other.

Our tip: Create a Minimum Viable Team (MVT). MVT is a term made up by Jorg Kop, director of the Utrechtse incubator. He uses it for the three character types your team needs to function best.

  • Hustler: the thinker and doer with the strong opinion who inspires the others. The hustler sees opportunities and solutions other teammates don’t. He or she is often the ‘front(wo)man’ that does all the communication with investors.
  • Hipster: this is the creative one. He or she makes ideas concrete and tangible (by creating content for instance). The hipster focuses on the user experience of the product.
  • Hacker: there needs to be a tech-savvy person in your team. The hacker is responsible for all the technical aspects of the product and gives advice based on his expertise. He’s always on the lookout for technological developments that are useful to enhance your product.

Mistake 3: not testing your assumptions about your product or service
It’s obvious you are fond of your product or service, but who says other people are? Miscalculated assumptions are destructive. These can be about the price of your product or the overall willingness to pay anything for the product or service.

Our tip: test your assumptions. Make a test-product and test it through a pre-sale or crowdfunding campaign.

Now it’s your turn
Yes, we are aware that by preserving you from these mistakes, we’ve just created more space to make others. What we want, is for you to see this as an opportunity to teach other people the lessons you’ve learned the hard way. After all, to grow is to share knowledge. So come on, make mistakes and spread your wisdom!

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