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Most startups begin with an idea. An entrepreneur thinks of something they can sell, and then they get visions of profits, running a team, and making their own hours. However, running a business usually isn’t as easy as it might look on tv shows and movies. If you don’t take care, you could find your startup has failed before you even get a chance to get started. 

Too many entrepreneurs do the basics, but forget about some of the common mistakes that can sink them. It’s important to take care and work on every detail so that nothing is missed. That way your business will be set up properly for success and you can reach your goals. Here are the top things that can kill a startup that are often neglected. 

Disagreements Between Founders

When starting a business, it’s understandable that you would want friends and family on board to help you out. What could be better than making money while spending the days hanging out with your best friends? In theory, it’s a great idea to have a co-owner that you can trust and that will give you honest feedback and discussion. However, you can still have disagreements that could create serious issues. 

Even if you are friends, there will come times when you disagree. If there is already a personal relationship, then arguments can get emotional. Not only that, but if you get into a business relationship with someone you trust, then you may not have properly formalized the arrangement. In that case, a major blow-out could cause major complications, at which point it is better to shut things down. If you have a trusted friend to go into business with, it might be a perfect match. However, make sure to formalize things with contracts and agreements so that you are both on the same page and so that you can resolve disputes. 

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Cash Flow Mismanagement

Most people know that cash flow is important to any business. However, what makes it more of a hidden hazard is that too many business owners think that once money starts coming in, cash flow won’t be a problem. The fact is, it can still be a problem, even for huge companies. Nike famously had cash flow problems for years, even when it was selling Air Jordans by the bushel when Michael Jordan was in his prime. 

The reason for this was simple timing. The cash wasn’t coming in at a rate that matched when payments needed to be made for things. Manufacturing and production timeframes can be tricky, and if you don’t have the cash in hand for everything, you could find yourself running out of it, even if a lot is coming down the pipe. 


Many startup owners don’t even give a thought to the possibility that they might get sued. Why would they? They have a great idea and a great product, so why would anyone want to sue them? The truth is, accidents and mistakes happen, even to the best of us. If you have staff, they could make a mistake too. In fact, it doesn’t even take a mistake for someone to bring legal action against you. The perception of a mistake is enough. 

There are several reasons why another party might want to sue you. One obvious one is that they’ve been injured on your property and want compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. You could also get sued if you make an error or miss a deadline that leads to a financial loss for a client. Make sure to have a commercial liability policy for your business, as well as all appropriate coverages so that you are protected. Even if you ultimately win, a lawsuit could devastate you financially and kill your startup. 

Issues With the Product

So, you’ve got a great product or service, and you want to make it available for the world. You develop it, and get it made, but when it is released, nobody buys it. Or, they buy it and return it. You still think the product is great, so what went wrong. Unfortunately, several things may have gone wrong and you didn’t pay attention to details to prevent all of them from happening. 

For example, if you are selling a physical product, you need to be reasonably sure that there is a place in the market for it. Are you certain that nobody has thought of this idea already and is already selling something similar? 

You may have also gone with the lowest bidder for manufacturing. While this may help with the expense side of the balance sheet, it could have its drawbacks. Inferior materials can break easier or cause other issues. If your customers are finding that your product is defective, then you will have big problems as word gets around. The same goes for software services. If your products aren’t properly developed, those glitches and issues will turn customers away. Do your research and make sure that there is a need in the market for what you want to produce, and that you are working with a service provider that can make it the best it can be. 


Many startups begin with the founders thinking they will pull up the bootstraps and work hard to get things up and running. 16 hours days? No problem. Taking on every possible task to save money? Absolutely worth it, right? Unfortunately, what you might think you can do and what your body and mind will actually let you do are very different. 

You might be able to burn the candle at both ends for a short time, but at some point you will crash. Your body will need rest, and your brain will be on overload. You might think you can just take a day to rest and get back at it 24 hours later, but that’s not realistic. You will start to burn out, and not only will you be tired, but you will lose your passion for the project. It will become an overwhelming burden, rather than an exciting new phase in your life. When that happens, your startup is in big trouble. It will be harder for you to continue with that schedule, and things will start to fall apart. Make the investment to get the support you need to get things done and make your vision a reality. 

Of course you are excited about a new business idea and eventure. However, just because you have a great product and the resources to get started, it doesn’t mean that you will find success. Don’t neglect these factors that can kill your startup if you are not careful. 

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