Experts Tell Startup Founders How to Avoid Pitfalls at TechUnited:NJ Chat
There are many pitfalls for new founders. When they think they’ve come up with the “next big thing,” that’s when troubles often begin.
Many founders focus only on their plans, forgetting or ignoring other plans and opportunities. They ignore advice. They don’t pivot. They spend too much money and time too quickly on their one concept.
“Ultimately, it comes down to how you work with founders and find the balance between ‘this just might be crazy enough to work’ and ‘this just might be crazy,’” said Aaron Price, president and CEO of TechUnited:NJ (Jersey City).
Price led a discussion about avoiding missteps with two experts who work with founders — Aleksandra Teichman, senior director of payments at Cross River Bank (Fort Lee); and Robert Trenery, a tax partner KPMG (Short Hills), a global audit, tax and advisory firm.
“These two experts have worked with hundreds of startup partners over their careers, and they gave us the inside scoop on what they think founders get right as they’re starting out, and where mistakes happen,” Price said. .
Trenery advised, “Don’t be afraid to have a Plan B, a Plan C and a Plan D. There’s nothing wrong with having several great ideas. There’s nothing wrong with having a mindset that allows you to pivot from A to B to C.
“You are really just seeing a vast amount of opportunity out there for you, and you aren’t afraid to plan around it,” he added.
Trenery said that founders sometimes focus so much attention on their initial plan, they’re unwilling to move on. “But having the ability to look behind you, to your periphery and just see opportunity from all directions, I think is just a good mindset to have.”
They also talked about passion, which is a necessity. “Were you able to really build a business with that passion? How do you narrow down what your specialty is and where you can excel?” Trenery asked.
While passion is important, it shouldn’t be a limiting factor. “I think the word ‘pivot’ is so important,” said Teichman. “Entrepreneurs are exceptionally passionate about what they want to do and what they want to put out, whether it’s a product or service. But it’s also important to be able to look to the sides and to see where else you are excelling.”
For that reason, it’s better to hire staff with a variety of abilities and outlooks. “Financial technology is a hot market,” she noted. “Finding the right talent is not easy at times. I make sure [we’re] getting that additional perspective when we bring on teammates, when we expand roles.”
Her teams have included financial, legal and support staff, she said.
Teichman noted that success also hinges on finding the right partners, which she defined as those who support your mission, understand your language, see through your lens and can understand and digest what you’re trying to do in a way that is reasonable and realistic.
“Anytime you grow an organization too fast, you have to [think]: ‘Am I hiring the right people?’” she said.
Another important part of the process, said Teichman, is “making sure that you’ve got the right processes and procedures as you scale and as you grow as an organization.”