I would not reinvent the wheel if I told you that nine out of ten startups fail.
While it means countless startups fail every year, the reasons behind their failure are not uncountable. Research shows that most startups fall into the same traps over and over again. If they could avoid those mistakes, however, the chances for them to succeed would be much higher.
Making mistakes is more than natural. Everybody does and should make mistakes in order to advance. Startups should be no exception to this rule because behind every startup there are human beings.
One of the top reasons startups fail is because they create products that no one wants. There is another mistake though that is commonly overlooked by startups: failing leadership.
The bad news is that startups are vulnerable to even the slightest mistake. The good news, on the other hand, is that you can do something about lowering the chances of your startup failing this year.
To help you with this, we came up with the list of 5 fatal leadership mistakes that your startup should avoid.
#1. Not Delegating Tasks Properly
Failing to delegate properly is probably the most classic leadership problem in business. Both young and experienced leaders make this mistake because they tend to take control of everything. This results in a wrong delegation of tasks where none of the parties feels either effective or satisfied.
Good leaders know what to do in order to achieve maximum efficiency, that is delegating tasks according to personal strengths and interests. Studies have shown that people who have a chance to use their top character traits are on average 74% more engaged and 31% more productive at work.
Another way of delegating tasks is by assigning work to those who volunteer. By taking this chance, both the leader and the employee may discover exceptional skills they never thought about.
Remember that human resource and expertise are one of the biggest assets of any startup. Use this resource wisely.
#2. Over-controlling And Under-managing
Most startup leaders are either control-freaks or too hands-off. Some argue that the first is better than the latter. However, neither over-controlling nor under-managing can be good for a startup. It is not very pleasing to have your CEO breathe down your neck nor is it cool to be mismanaged.
The secret of successful startup CEOs is the ability to combine both and find the middle ground. If you have built your teams based on their strengths, the only thing you should do is set reasonable goals and deadlines and check from time to time whether those goals are met.
There are numerous tools to help monitor the productivity of your teams and facilitate communication. Choose the one that is more relevant to your business context and objectives.
If you build teams based on strengths and give them feasible tasks, there is no chance your employees will fail to do what they are asked to.
It is all about finding a balance between micromanaging and mismanaging and being able to adjust your style depending on the situation.
#3. Strongly Believing In The Wrong Idea And Not Listening To Others
Many leaders tend to follow their instinct which most of the times proves to be right. Sometimes though they just cling to the wrong idea and try too hard to push the erroneous hill. What is more harmful in these situations is that in most cases leaders do not even listen to others.
This usually happens with young leaders who fall in love with their idea and fail to accept constructive criticism. While no one is perfect and making mistakes is a natural thing, good leaders should know when and how to stop.
In order to avoid fatal mistakes that will cost their startups a packet, CEOs should consult with at least 3 people from different disciplines when it comes to making important decisions. Sharing information and listening to other opinions help evaluate if the idea is achievable and if it is worth going after.
So when you feel trapped in your own ideas and when it becomes addictive, take some time to talk about it with your team. In case it is a good idea, it will only boost your motivation.
#4. Underestimating The Power Of Communication
Communication is fundamental for any business activity. Many startup leaders, however, think that sending out an email once a month is more than enough to keep the communication going. That’s not totally right, though.
Effective communication includes not only sending out recapitulative emails from time to time but also providing and receiving feedback, constantly keeping up with company developments, and inspiring other colleagues. All of this requires good communication skills and the ability to convey important messages in the right way.
In order to keep consistent communication, weekly or bi-weekly emails are a necessity. Startup leaders should use them as a means to communicate any significant changes, new projects, arrivals or departures of employees, or simply wish a productive week to everyone.
Effective leaders should also take some time every week to hear feedback from each team member. It might sound unnecessary but it will help keep the finger on the organization’s pulse and asses the overall dynamics of the team.
Remember that communication is the strongest means of inspiration, so use it to constantly to serve as an example to your team by hearing them out and by helping when required.
How To Succeed At Being A Better Leader
Anyone can tell what a startup CEO should do. In reality, though, it is easier said than done.
Startup CEOs, most of the times, are people who have a lot on their shoulders and very little time to take care of themselves. In pursuit of their goals, they often forget to take some time for themselves in order to regain energy to conquer the world and inspire more people.
In order to avoid the above-mentioned mistakes and be physically and mentally ready for challenges, startup leaders should follow these simple steps:
- Meditate every morning for at least 15 minutes: this will help free the mind from unnecessary thoughts and anxiety and leave space for new and creative ideas.
- Once at work, take 5 minutes to write a thank-you note: thanking your colleagues or partners for their wonderful job or for helping you out benefits one’s physical and mental health a lot more than one can think.
- Do not forget to do some exercise: sometimes working on a challenging project can disconnect you from the reality, but taking some time to walk around the office or do some basic exercise is essential to decrease the feelings of depression, anxiety or stress.
- Take up a sport and dedicate some time to it every week: there are many types of physical activity, including swimming, running, jogging, and dancing, to name a few. Being active has shown to have many health benefits so take some time every week to practice your favorite sport and take care of your body and mind.
The success of any startup depends on numerous factors and leadership is one of them. If as a startup CEO you take care of yourself and are able to prevent the abovementioned mistakes, then you are setting yourself up for a big success. So buckle up!