Steve Mellor


5 Mistakes That I Made In My First Startup




5 Mistakes That I Made In My First Startup

1. We didn't have clear, defined roles With startups, especially very early stage ventures, roles are muddy. You're relied on to wear multiple hats and 'Just get the job done'.

The tough part with this is that the constant multitasking, and crossing streams, just to get to the finish line breeds a lot of animosity and selfishness.

In order to circumvent this, there needs to be clearly defined roles and responsibilities for who does what and fallback plans in case that person is unable to do the work or chooses to leave (which some people may leave before launch — I did once)

2. Trying to make it 'perfect' Taking 8 months to launch a product when it could've been done in 2 is painful.

Unfortunately, we tried to cram everything into the first release to make it 'Perfect'. It was 6 months overdue when we finally launched and the product lost it's luster after another 6 months.

If I were to do it again, I'd find the 3 tastiest features that would make up my MVP and launch that. The advantage you get from using all that MVP data to improve your product and give the customers what they truly want is invaluable.

3. Communication is critical

Communication is absolutely vital. Transparency is a must. Startups are one of the most delicate situations in the tech world. They required leaps of faith and trust has to be established from the jump.

All it takes is a few back office whispers or some rumors floating around to throw a wrench in the entire operation.

Be forthcoming with information and brutally honest. If it's not working out for you, kindly state your reasons and move it. Don't hold your coworkers hostage and ruin their dreams while you're walking out the door.

4. Let egos get in the way

This is a big one and especially comes into play when things start getting real and money gets put on the table. I'll refer back to my first point with the clearly defined roles, those apply here, too.

At startups, employees and company culture is still being molded. Get 2 alpha's in a room and it could be a battle of wits where both are trying to build a case for why their way is the best way.

In situations like these, you need to remember your role and why you have that person, and their expertise, in a room with you. They were hired for a reason, right? Let them do the work and give them the opportunity to perform.

You can kill the culture instantly if there's one person ruling like it's a dictatorship.

5. Didn't set boundaries

With the world of tech being 'Always On', it's the 5:13am texts that will kill you. The world of texting is abused so much by founders and startups that it's gotten to the point where I have to mute conversations and set strict boundaries for when it's okay and when it's not okay to 'shoot me a text'.

Blurring these boundaries sounds innocent at first, but again this breeds a lot of resentment when someone starts ghosting the other person. You get into the office only to get a 'what, you didn't get my text?' Or 'You didn't read my email? I sent it late last night'.

These can be job and relationship killers.

If you want to curb this from the start, then you have to set communication boundaries of what's fair and remember, if it's urgent, tell them to call you. Chances are, it can wait to the next mornings meeting.

Startups are intriguing, but they're also brutally tough to get launched.

They require long days, longer nights, and are a constant mental battle.

However, the end result when you finally do launch, is extremely rewarding and satisfying.

So much so, that I don't think I could ever go back to a 'normal' job again.


1. Have clear defined roles

2. Stop trying to make it 'perfect' and just launch the damn thing

3. Plan to OVERcommunicate early and often

4. Leave your ego at the door

5. Learn to set boundaries and do it early


Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear about it.

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