7 Pitfalls for Startups to Avoid


In the competitive landscape of tech startups and innovative technology, time is crucial and avoiding common mistakes can save vital time and money. Learning from others’ mistakes means you don’t have to make the same ones they did. BIND 4.0 collected the advice of well-respected business advisors, the BIND 4.0 Mentors, to offer Founders support in navigating around these 7 startup pitfalls. 

As part of our commitment to improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem and boosting innovation, we present this list of advice and pitfalls to avoid for tech startups and scale-ups.


PITFALL 1: Trying to do Everything Yourself

ADVICE:  One of the most common mistakes that startups make early on, is continuing to try to do everything themselves and not adjusting roles with time. To not only grow in the right direction, but to avoid burnout and overextending themselves, Founders need to identify the correct resources. Always choose the best person for the task at hand, even if that means yourself giving up your own position. Focus on building a strong team that has the right capabilities to take the company to the next level.

Tom Horsey. BIND40 Acceleration Program Mentor

“As a Founder, you are both a worker and a shareholder, the main value generator for a Founder should be as a shareholder, so this is where their priorities should lie”

Tom Horsey, Co-founder at Startups Labs & Eoniq.fund

& BIND 4.0 Mentor

PITFALL 2: Lack of Market and/ Customer Focus 

ADVICE: Another pitfall to avoid is to over-focus on developing the product or technology, without paying enough attention to the market or customer needs. While having a good product or technology is essential, it is equally important to understand the market. Failure to conduct market research or customer analysis risks building a product that nobody wants or needs. Do market research as soon as possible then launch prototypes and test them with potential customers.

Mikel Irizar

“Spend time talking to customers, understanding their environment, priorities, and their full technology stack to see how your technology fits”.

Mikel Irizar, Managing Director at StratToExec

& BIND 4.0 Mentor


PITFALL 3: Lack of Trusted Advisors to Avoid an Echo Chamber

ADVICE: Startups should avoid operating in an echo chamber, where they only seek advice and feedback from like-minded individuals. Not having trusted mentors or advisors can lead to a lack of diverse perspectives and can prevent startups from seeing potential blind spots or areas for improvement. It is important early on to get an outside perspective, from someone who can relate, empathize and provide fitting advice.

Darragh Kelly BIND40 MENTOR“The mentality of a startup must be stubborn to succeed, you have to believe in something that nearly no one does, at least at the start. Buy as times goes by you need to incorporate new points of view”.

Darragh Kelly, Positioning and Go To Market specialist (Cyber)

& BIND 4.0 Mentor

PITFALL 4: Being Too Generic Instead of Becoming Specialized

ADVICE: Another common mistake that startups make is becoming too generic or not specialized enough. It is “easy” to say that a solution works for all, but the real challenge is finding a product market-fit, if you are trying to find a fit in “all” markets just by definition it is too much work. From an operation standpoint, you will lose a lot of energy running after every opportunity. To avoid this mistake, startups should focus on specialization in specific markets and slowly expand based on the knowledge gained.

Antonio Fonduca. BIND40 Acceleration Program Mentor

“Stay unique and do not conform – forge your own way. The right people will be attracted to you as a consequence.”

Antonio Fonduca, General Partner at Venture Diplomat

& BIND 4.0 Mentor

PITFALL 5: Saying “Yes” too Often

ADVICE: Related to not doing proper customer analysis can lead to saying yes to everything a potential customer wants but not what functionality is most critical and valuable. Say no to developing functionality that only applies to one or two customers. Entrepreneurs often start out by saying yes to any request in order to get a customer and then attempt to make it all work. Saying no is a simple way to maintain focus, it is a way to avoid over-promising and it is crucial in entrepreneurial survival.


PITFALL 6: Not Having a Plan or Clear Goals 

ADVICE: Have a plan, and make sure that everyone follows it, using tools such as OKR (Objectives and Key Results). As mentor Tom Horsey shared “In your initial stages sometimes you pivot on a regular basis, but when you’ve found your product-market fit, then you need to start focusing on it at all the levels within the team“.

Startups need to have a clear picture of the key goals and measurable objectives through the different stages of growth. Founders can use existing strategy definition and alignment tools like GOST (Goals Objectives Strategies and Tactics) to rationalize their strategy into key executable and prioritized actions.


PITFALL 7: Being Afraid to Test and Learn

ADVICE: Finally, be agile and pivot. Take risks and have a test-and-learn mindset. Don’t be afraid to pivot in the beginning, stay flexible and fail forward. Collect all the information you can to iterate and continuously improve. Follow this piece of advice: “Remember survival is trial and error… execute, learn quickly and adjust… but execute!”  as BIND 4.0 Mentor Mikel Irizar says.

César Alonso Peña BIND40 MENTOR

Founders need to embody and encourage a culture of try and fail, to learn and to improve.

César Alonso, Responsible for Digital Transformation and Innovation at Janssen

& BIND 4.0 Mentor

BIND 4.0 Offers Startups Support & Advice

By delegating and adjusting roles when the time comes, prioritizing the market needs, having clear goals, testing and learning, finding a balance between specialization and generalization while learning to say no, and seeking out diverse perspectives, startups can create products and services that resonate with their target audience and move their company to the next level successfully.  

While it is impossible to list all the pitfalls to avoid and provide all the best advice in one segment, we hope this post helps bring awareness to some of the most common startup mistakes. Since 2017, our mentor and business advisory teams have successfully boosted 190+ startups and facilitated open innovation projects in the Basque Country. 

Have you come across these mistakes and need advice? We’d love to hear from you and keep you posted on our latest news and industry insight. Sign up for our newsletter for more information and connect now to stay up to date about next opportunities to grow your startup through Open Innovation with leading venture clients and top-tiers experts.