10 Things Every Startup Should Avoid


by Guest Blogger Isabella Ramos

Starting a business from scratch is a difficult task. It is time-consuming and you are likely to encounter many problems along the way. However, just because you may experience teething problems, it doesn’t mean that you will fail. Knowing the main reasons for the failure of startups can help you to avoid making the same mistakes or at least give you a plan for ways to counteract these potential difficulties should they arise. Here are ten of the most common reasons for the failure of startups.

  1. Setting the wrong goals

Having goals gives you something to work towards. However, the goals you choose are the difference between success and failure. You cannot be too conservative or too ambitious. You must set goals at a level somewhere between the two.

  1. A lack of direction

You need to know what you are expecting to achieve and who will play what role in helping you to launch the business. If you don’t know these details, you are on the fast-track to failure.

  1. Poor marketing

Marketing is the key to raising awareness of your business and increasing sales and profit. If people do not know about your business, then they will not buy your products or use your services. It is important to allocate some of your start up budget to marketing. Consider using the professional services of a marketing company as they will have the knowledge and expertise to help you carry your new business forward.

  1. No diversification

Only one product and one investor may indicate that your business is too narrow. It is better to have several people involved with different types of input and to consider a range of products and services.

  1. Wrong technology

You need to think about your target demographic when deciding what your best options for technology are. For example, if your target market is predominantly teenagers and people in their twenties, then social media is a great way to reach them. However, this might not be the best technology to use if you are targeting over sixties. While some of them may use the computer and access the Internet, others may feel more comfortable with having telephone conversations.

  1. Choosing a marginal niche

A common mistake made by business founders is to look for a gap in the market, but then choose a product or service that is so obscure that the opportunity to sell it will be limited to targeting a very small group of people. While it makes sense to be unique and stand out from the competition, it obviously doesn’t pay to be so unusual that your products or services will never sell.

  1. Wrong launch time

Launching too early or too late can lead to a very quick end to your business. It is important to make sure that you launch your business at the optimum time. Launch too early and you might not be fully prepared. Launch too late and others may have introduced your ideas to the market or you could have missed some great opportunities.

  1. Choosing the wrong platform

If you are planning an online presence, then a website for your business is essential. You will need to find the right platform for your business as the wrong platform and tools could end in disaster for your start up. WordPress is a great platform on which to build your online presence. Once the suitable domain names have been purchased, this content management system will help you get up and running with ease.

  1. Lack of focus and time management

As the founder of the business, you will have a lot to do, but you need to make sure that you are focusing on the right things. Failing to manage your time well and focusing on the wrong aspects of the startup might cause you problems. If you personally do not need to do a task, then delegate it to someone else so that you can concentrate on more urgent matters.

  1. Insufficient funds

Another major cause of failure is insufficient funds to properly start up the business. You must make sure that you have all the necessary finance in place to start your business. If you do not have the cash yourself, then you will need to consider asking for financial backing or taking out a loan. Business founders often make the mistake of underestimating the cost of setting up a company, so it is important to do proper research and sort your costing out first.

By taking into consideration the top reasons for startups to fail, you can make plans to avoid these mistakes when you start up your own business. If you have a good business idea, you plan carefully in advance and you make all the necessary preparations, there is no reason why your startup should not be successful if you are willing to put in the time and work necessary.

Japanese Pictures


I referred to these pictures during an interview with Julia Ling on School for Startups Radio today. They are of me in Japan in 1988. You have to listen to the show to understand the significance!

Me running a Japanese marathon.

Me running a Japanese marathon.

I was supposed to be in school but this picture proved I was hundreds of miles away!

I was supposed to be in school but this picture proved I was hundreds of miles away!

Ooops – Look like something went wrong….


Our ski boat…..


The Seed w Pas Niratbhand


from my interview with Pas Niratbhand….

Pas_Niratbhand1‘Okay, so what The Seed is, is plant-based and vegan lifestyle event. Right now we have an annual event in New York City. We are hoping to go to other cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago in 2015. So we created The Seed three years ago. Me and my buddy.

At the beginning it was just we thought we see the trend, we bought an event business, the trend of vegan and plant based that’s coming up, a then we see that there’s an opportunity to do something and make some money. Anyhow, that has all changed for me. After I learnt about the information that they have and once you become vegan, eating plant-based food for the health reason, compassion reason.

So right now I’m just doing this to spread the message and get people to read the information, so they can make their own decision.

I’ll start from the beginning then. So, I went to a fine arts school in Thailand in Bangkok. I learned graphic design, advertising, commercial design. So I came here 20 years ago to get my Masters at Pratt. There was a turn of technology. When I was at Pratt, we were still talking about CD-ROM, internet had not even happened yet. So a lot of things have changed.

When I was studying, my goal was, okay, I’m gonna do this CD-ROM authoring and then that market’s disappeared. Then it become internet. So then I thought okay, internet, so now what should I do? So I had built up my internet and then do the design for the web. After I graduated I started the publication company, doing New York City guide books.

That’s how I connected to Chris Hoffman from Shecky’s, because he also had his own Shecky’s Bar, Club and Lounge Guide, that was a thing 15 years ago. So after 9/11, I had shut down my company and then started working at Shecky’s publishing guidebooks. After 9/11 the city was sold out, and we had a book launch party coming up.

Chris came up with the idea for the event called Shecky’s Girls Night Out, just to make something fun, just to lifting the spirits of the city. So that’s the first time we actually do this kind of event. And it stuck. The girls like it.

So then we started doing more and more events, and finally we stopped publishing the book, because the event business was making so much more money than the publication. So that is how I get into event business. Then I also realize that I like to entertain people. I host a brunch party at my place very often.

So then, it clicked for me that an event is fun, and I get to connect people together. I enjoy when they come to events and they have fun and have a good experience. It’s all about creating a unique experience for the attendees. So that’s how I got into event business.’

Helping your Friends w Judy Robinett


from my interview with Judy Robinett….

Judy_robinett‘I used to bean introvert too. I was in Fortune 100 companies and we’d have these meetings and evening events. I’d go run for the corners. I used to just hate them. I was shy. Then finally I figured out most people felt the same way that I did. So then I started getting a little braver. You could hang out at the food table and talk to people about the food, but it’s good to do research ahead of time and find out who’s going to be there so be a bit targeted.

You know frankly, Jim, I would just walk up, put my hand out, and say, “Hi, I’m Judy,” and take it from there. So I usually have what …I teach people, I call it my two golden questions. You say your story, where you’re going in life, and then you ask, “What other ideas do you have for me, and who else do you know I should talk to?”

That’s the mistake people make even with those 50 that are already their friends. They also are the last to know that somebody in there’s critical, because they haven’t had that conversation about who they know. Well you can certainly do that, but usually what I tell people is to be focused. I mean, it doesn’t help you to know your friends. Everybody knows six hundred people, and so do you. What you need is who can help you, so you start with “What is your need, what is your story, what is your goal in life,” and then say “What other ideas and who else do you know?”

I’ll share a quick story. My agent introduced me to Mike Muhney. Mike is the co-founder of ACT! Software. It sold for $48 million. He’s the inventor of that entire category. She told me he had this great app called VIPorbit. It was the number for contacts and free on the iPhone. I’d never heard of it. He flew up here, and I said, “Mike! I’ve never heard of this. What kind of marketing are you doing?” He told me, and he looked kind of pensively, and he said, “What I would give if I could just get introduced to Darren Hardy who publishes SUCCESS Magazine.”

I looked at him, and I said, “Mike, when you go home, I want you to call Wendy, who you’ve known five times longer than I have, and one of her friends is Darren Hardy.” His mouth dropped. His jaw dropped, and he said, “You mean to tell me I had to fly to Utah from Texas to find out I should be talking to somebody I already know.”

My goal is to help people. I love to make things happen, and so I acquire great folks, and I think your goal is to have a robust network of people who can help you move forward either personally or professionally in your life.’



Entrepreneurs and their Cars


My car hit 250,000 miles today. For a Toyota 2003 Highlander, pretty good cost per mile, say $37,000/250,000 = $.148 per mile.










The number one car selected by entrepreneurs is the Ford F150.  Number 2 is the Ford Explorer. Entrepreneurs don’t care what they drive; they just want it to be practical and functional.

Affiliate Marketing Expert Sarah Bundy


from my interview with Sarah Bundy…..

Sarah Bundy“Okay so before I tell you that, and it’s a great question and its actually good for me to let you know what’s out there, let me tell you about the other couple players that you should know about in this space because there affiliate and there’s a brand but there are two more really important ones.

One of them is a tracking platform or an affiliate network. So in order for emergent brands to be able to work with an affiliate there needs to be a middle man like a technology that actually tracks and sets this whole thing up so they can engage with each other and so they know who to credit commission to and who is generating what kind of sales and traffic and that kind of thing.

One of the other players is an affiliate network such as Share A Sale, [Font] Link, Commission Junction, Link Share. You know, there are a few of them out there. You can even get a third party tracking platform not an affiliate network. Affiliate networks are there basically to provide a network of affiliates plus a tracking platform. If you are using a third party tracking platform then there is no network of affiliates that it comes with but it provides that tracking mechanism to understand the relationship between the affiliates and the brands; who is doing what and who to credit what to.

Examples of third party tracking platforms, people can look into things like Impact Radius, HasOffers.com, Cake Marketing. Their web site is getcake.com.

So these are all ones that you can look up for third party tracking perspective.

And then the fourth player that is really, really important is having an affiliate manager. So if you are a small business, lets say you are a small business and the only marketing strategy that you are going use to promote your product and brand is affiliate partnerships, then there’s an opportunity for you to potentially manage that by yourself. In a lot of cases the owners of the businesses or the marketing teams don’t have the capacity or resources or the expertise to understand affiliate marketing enough to be able to manage it pro-actively and so they would want to hire an affiliate manager.

That’s what we do for a living here at All Inclusive Marketing, along with several other digital marketing services. But a lot of companies come to us because they know that we have the reach, we have the expertise, we have the relationships already developed with many influential affiliates and so they come to us and they say okay we want you to manage the account for us. So that’s the other piece that you are going to need for an affiliate program to be successful you have to have someone pro-actively managing it or else it just goes flat. Okay?

Okay, trade shows, biggest ones in the affiliate marketing space are Affiliate Summit, that’s the number one. They have Affiliate Summit West, Affiliate Summit Central and Affiliate Summit East and that one is actually coming up next month. There is the [Sharis] Hill Think Tank Event. Each of the different networks have their own so CJ University, Commission Junction University, that’s coming up in September. You can go to the Performance Marketing Insights Show. That’s usually in New York, Chicago, San Francisco or London. And there is also Affiliate Management Days and that’s a conference just for people that want to learn how to manage an affiliate program themselves.”


Becoming an Expert w Debbie Allen


from my interview with Debbie Allen…..

Debbie Allen“You better believe it. Yeah, those are the so called experts. Those are the flim-flam men, and the ones that are out just pitching stuff and they’re not following up people. They’re not really the people that really stay. That happens a lot, especially when social media hit big. Every other person called themselves a social media expert, although very few actually were the chosen experts.

The idea of this is how to become the highly paid expert is to get to the top of your niche market, is to really own an industry.

Let me just tell you a little bit about what an expert really is, so people can understand what the concept is first. An expert is someone that is widely recognized as a reliable source for either a specific skill, passion or body of knowledge. Experts are known as an authority by the public and also their peers, and that’s critical, in a specific niche market. So, they have that credibility and recognition.

An expert is more generally known as a person with extensive knowledge and experience in a particular area. They are known for their advice and wisdom on specific respective type of topic. That’s why I say it’s always good to go narrow in a niche market. Experts could have certain credentials.

They could have plaques on their walls if they’ve gone to all these different schooling, training education or simply they could have the experience to know something on the subject way beyond the average person. That’s where I fall in. I’ve never attended a day of college. I’ve never applied for a J-O-B in my life.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 19 years old buying my first business and built many diverse million dollar companies. With that I’ve known that I’ve always wanted to be the best and the expert at what I do.

Now I teach people how to build an entrepreneurial business, but using an expert model so the position they’re marketing as they go to authority in what they do. The way they do that is mostly education based marketing, which we can get into and talk a little bit more about.

So, maybe he’s an expert at selling what he does and because of that he makes a pretty good living, but that’s not really the positioning of an expert. Bob, if he wanted to really position himself as an expert, he’d be probably teaching other people that also sell dentures and he’d have a team of people and he’d be kind of training the trainers, training the sales people.

He would be at a higher level than that, versus just doing it like everybody else. He’s reached that authority level, higher than the average person, average sales person. It’s taking it beyond. He’s doing speaking engagements. He’s doing webinars. He’s got all kinds of other educational based programs about this, as well as just the product.

Debbie AllenI want you to think about a pyramid. You’re looking at a triangle. The bottom part of the triangle is very wide and just like in business, if you’re on the bottom part of the run in your business or market, you’re going to have a lot of competition.

When you have a lot of competition and you’re not really known as the go to authority or the go to person, you’re kind of mixed in there with everybody else, you don’t make as much money. You compete all the time. You’re always struggling. So, probably at that point you don’t have any good marketing.

The next level is skill and Bob’s probably already at the skill level. He’s moved up the ladder. Maybe he has a good website where he’s starting to sell these online. He’s creating lots of paths of income and he maybe wrote an ebook about why you could buy used dentures and save a lot of money.

Then he comes to the next level, which is the specialist level and he starts making a little bit more money, now he’s about the middle range. Competitions starting to fall off. He’s owning that marketing, what I call owning that. Then he want’s to move up higher than that.

So now it’s again, he’s asked to go speak at dentist’s conferences. Like, ” How did you get into this business? Tell us about it, how we can add this stream of income to our business.” He becomes the authority level and so he’s asked to maybe write a book about it, be the authority of speaking and other opportunities.

He’s on your radio show, Jim. You’re talking about this, because he’s blown this business up. Then he reaches the next level, the top, the highly paid expert level in which you become the star, the celebrity in your niche market. When you’re at that level, it’s great to be at the top, because you become a money and opportunity magnet, because you stand out at the top and there’s very little competition.”



Personal Branding with Ken DeGilio


from my interview with Ken DeGgilio…….

Ken DeGilio“The brand story is pretty unique in that the brand story is how you’re building your promise or how you’re unique to your audience. Every company’s going to have a different way that they tell their brand stories, just like we are as humans. We have different ways that we communicate and get to know people. Sometimes it’s from the CEO’s perspective and we saw that with Apple for a long time, where we didn’t know too much about Steve Jobs. And then at the end, we got to experience who Steve was all about as the CEO.

So like I said, there are many different ways, and sometimes from the CEO’s point of view, sometimes it’s from the products and services, sometimes it’s the customers. So we have these different techniques and it’s got to be authentic and real for that company. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem real and we’re not going to engage it from a customer’s point of view. So that’s the secret sauce, in a way, in developing something that’s really unique, but something that can keep you engaged with that audience for that brand story.

Yeah, let’s talk about personal branding because that’s what I wanted to talk about this evening, was how we started on this journey. And I know I have one successful CEO that I’m working with right now – he’s too busy. I blog for him, I post for Facebook for him, I keep up his website. Anything online I help him because he’s too busy, or not too busy, but he’s doing his job. He’s involved in real estate and that’s his thing. So the online branding is one component of the personal brand.

But I want to help your readers through this a little bit and not just in terms of creating or hiring a person or an intern or assigning this out as far as the duties, but really taking a step in looking at their personal brand. And I was looking at the article that I want to share with your audience. It was featured on Startup Jungle recently. And basically, I took all my information. This is supposed to be an e-book at some point. And I wanted the opportunity just to put all this together. And it’s just a personal brand guide and hopefully your audience can check it out.

I just want to hit a couple of key points from that. And as I was preparing for this show today, I realized I forgot the most important part of the backstory of why I wrote this. And it’s kind of significant because my son is going to be 17 soon. At that point when my wife had our first child, I read this article by Tom Peters called “The Brand Called You.” And it’s been that long ago where this whole idea of personal branding started and hit home for me because I was a nonprofit director at the time. I was running an international nonprofit. I had started out in marketing. I was known as the nonprofit guy, though, at that point. And I didn’t really want to do that. I wanted to get back to my roots of what I was really good at and finding my true purpose and passion. But it was so hard because everybody saw me as the CEO of a nonprofit. And when I read the article, it kind of set everything in motion for what I’m doing right now, back as the marketing guy.

So just a couple of key points from that is having some goals and setting the plan in motion. And it’s not just about being and having an online presence, but it’s really about setting a specific goal of what you want to accomplish and how you want to build your own personal brand.”



Angel Investing Decisions w Mike Peters


from my interview with Mike Peters….

Mike Peters“Not to accept that something is impossible. And you spend enough time dabbling with the issue, sleeping on it, reading more books, talking to more experts. Eventually the solution just comes. I don’t know if it’s a mystical process or if it’s just a matter of something that happens while you sleep, but honestly I think the big issue is that most people – I don’t know if lazy is the right word to describe it – but most people, they just stay within the box. They just accept what it is that they are being told and they don’t realize that – Steve Jobs had a great way of putting it. I mean you have to realize that all the rules and all the principles and everything that you are taught growing up, these are all rules and principles and ideas that were comprised by people just like you. It’s possible that they got it all wrong. It’s possible that those rules don’t make sense. It’s possible that in a year from now, we’ll realize that none of the things that you were taught made any sense. But it’s just so easy for most people to just accept things as they are. That’s the first problem. 

The second problem is that most people I come across, once they graduate, they just stop learning. They stop reading books. They figure that that’s it, I’m good, I have all the information I need, and from this point forward they just start the decline. Me myself, I love reading books. And whenever a day goes by without me learning something new I just feel that it’s a loss. So I guess that’s really all there is to it. That’s the big secret, just understanding that it’s very much like the Matrix the movie. You have to understand that you are the only one responsible for creating your reality. Everything that is going on in your life right now is nothing but a result of all the decisions you’ve made to this point. You’re not a victim of your circumstances. Every single person can completely change and completely re-create their reality. It’s just sad that a lot of people don’t understand that. 

So I’m a very quick decision maker. I usually make up my mind within five minutes or less. I don’t really need sophisticated due diligence because the type of company that I invest in are pre-seed companies. So usually it’s a group of entrepreneurs. They have an idea. They might have a prototype. And they come to me asking for anything from 20 to 50 thousand dollars. But really what I bring to the table is the insight, the expertise, the know-how on how to build the business. And the way I make my mind is, a lot of times you have people approaching you saying they have the absolute best idea. In-fact, the idea is so good they want you to sign an MBA before they tell you about the idea. And then, when I ask them, “Well do you have a prototype? Do you have anything to show?” “Well no, no, no we don’t have anything, but the idea is just so good that it’s going to blow your mind.” So in these cases, obviously, I tell them thank you very much, but it’s not a good fit. 

What I look for is I look for people who understand that in this day and age there is absolutely no excuse not to be able to create a fully functional prototype from your idea in 30 days or less. So I look for people who can create a fully functional prototype in 30 days or less. The trick is, you don’t really need to be a technical person to be able to do that. All you need to do is you need to understand the rules of the game. You can go on any of the many, many online market places these days – sites like elance, freelancer.com – and you can hire people from around the world, paying them anywhere from $2 – $5 an hour and maybe spending $500 and getting a fully functional prototype up and running. If you don’t have the time, the energy, the know-how, the $500, the energy to create this prototype, then it’s not a good fit. So that’s step one. I look for people who understand that there’s really no excuse not to create a prototype. I am more than happy to help them and work with them on creating that prototype. But people who tell me, “No, no, no we just have this great idea. It’s going to be awesome, and we didn’t try a single line of code, but trust me, it’s going to be awesome.” It’s not a good fit. So step one, they absolutely need to have their prototype. 

Beyond that, I look for the type of businesses that can, I call it, 90 days to break even. So they either need to break even financially within 90 days, or they need to have some significant traction within 90 days. And the reason this is how I’m wired is because I’ve been through the game of creating a start-up, raising $6.5 million, riding a product that you believe is going to change the world only to realize 3-4 years later that it’s not a good fit, the market has changed, and you just burned $6.5 million and you have nothing to show for it. So I’m not looking for that. My DNA is 100% wired to businesses that can generate amazing traction within 90 days. And it is possible. Of the top of your head it might seem like, “Wait a minute, I just have an idea. How can I create any traction within 90 days?” Well you can if you know what you’re doing, if you play your cards right. And that’s where I come in. I work with these people and help them get to that level.”