What is the thing that all new startups neglect the most?


There are lots of business books and fields of study that provide advise on starting a new business. They do however seem to be a bit theoretical or vastly outdated. With this I am interested in hearing from you in practical and simple form...

I would like to know: "What was the thing that you forgot to take into consideration that had the biggest effect on your startup? Along with this how would you incorporate it in your planning for the next startup?"

Thanks for your answer, every piece of info helps build a more detailed and richer "puzzle".

Planning Business

asked Jul 19 '11 at 19:52
181 points
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  • Your question is essentially a poll - not a useful question that can be answered. Unless you can change it/fix it, it is likely to be (and should be) closed. – Tim J 13 years ago

5 Answers


In my experience, the most frequent thing startups neglect is to make sure they are solving somebody's problem. Having cool tech is wonderful, but if it isn't solving a problem it won't succeed.

Now "solving a problem" is actually a pretty broad statement, and can include everything from saving time or money, to providing an easier way to accomplish some task, to satisfying a desire to look cool or fit in. But in any event you must be addressing some pain point for your potential customer set. And the "pain" had better be tangible.

Otherwise you are either not selling something people will pay for, or you are a knockoff. Either way is a dead end.

answered Jul 22 '11 at 07:13
Scott Berry
51 points


I think the most common neglect is to get an exact picture of who your customer is and what (s)he wants. It is not because we ourselves are members of our own user community, that the other members want exactly the same. This results in a lot of waste, with features being built or services offered that (almost) nobody is looking for, and features/services that would sell like hot cake not getting built.

So I think the whole concept of Customer Development is what gets neglected most often.

answered Jul 19 '11 at 22:06
Roy Dictus
343 points
  • Great point Roy, thanks for the answer. It makes me think of the principle of force in martial arts. The ideal is to reserve your energy and in doing so not exert more energy than is needed in order to get your desired outcome. I remember being penalized for excessive force in training as a novice fighter (drawing blood), new startup founders seem to do the same - and in doing so pay a heavy price. – Salmon 13 years ago
  • To whoever downvoted this answer: at least have the common decency to explain why you downvoted. Thank you. – Roy Dictus 13 years ago
  • This was probably the single biggest point of failure in the first startup I was in. "We've got a great product and we'll sell it to whoever might want it" rarely works. You need to identify real people with a real problem, and then solve that for them in a way they can afford. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago


I think it is being realistic about selling it. It's really hard to get a new product / app / service into people's hands. Real hard and it costs real money.

  • Marketing & Sales
answered Jul 21 '11 at 14:09
Ryan Doom
5,472 points
  • yep. I agree. We have a fantastic product, but neglected our marketing and sales efforts (was distracted with technical issues). That hurts us a lot! – Michael 13 years ago


Most startups (or even bigger companies) do not have crisp and compelling answers to one or more of the following questions. A very common omission I feel is #2

  1. Who am I? (what problem am I solving - and how compelling is the value)
  2. For Whom am I? (who is my customer/end-user, sometimes they aren't the same)
  3. Why me? (what can I do better than anyone else and why - team? expertise? IPR?)
  4. Why not someone else? (how is my solution better than the others)

These are very high level questions - but your answers need to be crystal clear, crisp and compelling.

The Value (from Question #1) can be expressed in terms of the basic elements:

  • Time (saving time - convenience or productivity)
  • Money (saving money or making more - although VCs prefer the former)
  • Regulatory (allows a customer to be in business)
  • Pleasure (for consumer companies)

If you can articulate these values - again - crystal clear, crisp and compelling, then you are off to a good start.


answered Jul 23 '11 at 03:47
381 points


I think people get so excited about the product / new business opportunity, that they forget to discuss the partnership arrangements. It is easy to agree things (and write them on paper) when there is no dispute and no money - when one or other makes an appearance on the scene, things get complicated. Agreements are boring paperwork, so get an outsider to facilitate and make sure you cover basic eventualities, and that everyone understands the goals and roles the same way.

answered Jul 22 '11 at 03:35
Jaana Tarma
1 point

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