E-Commerce · Entrepreneurship

Whats is the worse thing you did as a founder?

Yegor Isaev Co-founder at GodMode, CFO at StudyFree, ex-Deloitte, ex-RDIF

March 27th, 2020


Igor Longato I'm a music conductor, looking for cofounder for Music industry Startup

Last updated on March 27th, 2020

Working with relatives or wife/husband might look a very smart thing. But think if/when things go wrong, then is not only the professional life paying the problem.... So, my suggestion is to learn treat relatives as a 'normal' collaborator, in order to avoid approaching in a wrong way the business goals, where you are forces to let go something that you wouldn't accept from anyone else.

Yegor Isaev Co-founder at GodMode, CFO at StudyFree, ex-Deloitte, ex-RDIF

March 27th, 2020

My personal mistake was to do the first business as it was a big enterprise. I calculated / re-calculated everything 1000 times, was trying to make everything perfect, hired hundreds of useless people etc. And at the end of the day, I realize that the idea itself was not good enough and it would be better to avoid all this extra work. That is why it's better done than perfect;)

Raj Raghavan 拉吉 Seeking technical co-founder to grow the product and raise capital.

March 29th, 2020

I shut down my last startup startup and I

feel shameful while writing this answer.


Here are the Startup Sins I committed with the wonder of bullet points:

  1. Not balancing out things: Being a CEO, you have to focus on everything. Either prioritize things or look at everything in a balanced way or have a team that balances out everything while you are focusing in one place. I did none. Initially, our revenues were bad, I focused on pre-sales which resulted in bad post-sales experience for customers. I focused on post-sales, our pre-sales got really bad. When both of them were balanced, cashflow was screwed up.
  2. Being too much available to employees: In a startup, you cannot act like a Fortune 500 CEOs. You have to be available for your team but being too much available can bite you back. Where I thought I’m just helping them out, they were getting too dependent on me. After a few months, my whole day used to go assisting them than to focus on Growth. It got so bad that they were asking my help in cropping a picture, converting DOC to PDF etc. etc.
  3. Not looking into cash-flow: My advisor kept suggesting me to maintain a cash flow sheet. I always thought “Oh I have all the numbers in my mind” or “Well all the expenses are legit, I’m not spending anything unnecessarily”. But during the last few months, I got a question “Where did all money go?” I didn’t have an answer.
  4. Being friends with employees: Well this is very much possible in a startup. As we all used to sit in a small cabin, we obviously became friends. This was the worst as their expectations went to the roof. They started slacking off. There was a time when every day, there was at least one employee who was absent. Then I had to learn to say “No”.
  5. Paid from personal pocket for expenses: Paying from your own pocket makes sense when you are just starting up. Or some startups are capital-sensitive. But, if your startup is eating your money even after 2 years, instead of giving small returns, something is really wrong. I was in huge debt when I was starting, got myself out of it with the help of friends, family, and salary from my startup. But I went into the same position again in the last few months by paying for expenses.
  6. Didn’t stop when I had to: We all love our startups. We have a different kind of belief that things will work-out. But it is really important to know when to stop. I saw this coming (closure/shut down). But still tried to keep it afloat by paying from my personal pocket. Things would have been a lot easier if I had shut down 2 months back. Now things have got worse. I will write the Post-Shut Down scenario below.
  7. Let vendors and employees exploit me: Well I have an excuse for the vendors. I didn’t know their local language and they were never comfortable with English. So I never got a chance to negotiate terms and prices with vendors. I had to rely on one of my employees. This resulted in vendors exploiting us like suddenly increasing the price by 2x or 3x. Asking money before the work is done and a lot more. Coming to employees exploiting me, I’ve explained in 4th point about it - Unnecessary leaves.
  8. Planned 100 things but executed only a few: Oh my coworking used to provide 2 hours per day of free meeting room space. I utilized it in planning for the growth. We would have planned 100+ things but procrastinated the execution.
  9. Not terminating an employee when I needed to: Nobody likes firing an employee. I always avoided awkward conversations. The firing was one of them. This way, I lost more money than I should have. This also creates a negative impact on other employees.