By Susan Guillory

There’s something very hip right now about launching a startup. It sounds sexy. And then we have shows like Shark Tank showing us that not only can we launch a startup, but we can even get celebrities to invest in it! This is a far cry from the reality that most startups experience. There are a ton of startup mistakes that first-timers make that can threaten the very future of the business. Don’t make the same errors.

1. They Don’t Realize How Much Money They Really Need

Startups are expensive, and while most founders assume they have budgeted for everything, they often make one major assumption that makes everything crash down around them: they assume their business will become profitable sooner than it actually does.

There’s no guarantee your business will be profitable within the first few months of launching. Heck, there’s no guarantee it will be profitable at all. So when building your budget for your startup, factor in all business and living expenses for you as the owner for the first year. That will give you time to let the dust settle and hopefully bring in enough revenue to help with your expenses.

2. They Try to DIY Everything

Startup founders are a spunky, bootstrapping bunch, and often they think that it’s easy to do everything themselves to save money. In fact, this often backfires, since it’s simply impossible to do everything your business requires, and do it well.

Choose the things you’re good at and focus on doing those. For the things you struggle with, maybe accounting or marketing, outsource them to a professional who can do them better and faster.

3. They’re Not Focused Enough on Marketing

An entrepreneur launches her startup to great fanfare. Business is booming at the start, so she decides she doesn’t need to spend much on marketing. Big mistake. Business might be great right now, but what happens when that initial excitement dies down?

You market today for tomorrow’s customers. It’s essential for any business to lay the foundation to attract future customers. And that requires marketing.

4. They Don’t Know Their Customers

Another grievous error many startups make is thinking their product is so amazing and life-changing that they don’t bother to get to know their customers and what they want. So they’re left with a product that nobody wants, or a price point no one can afford to pay.

This is where research comes in handy before you launch a product you spent time and money building. Talk to your audience: what pain points do they have? How could you solve their problems? What do they want in a product? The answers should guide you to create a product that will actually be in demand.

The theme here is: don’t be impetuous. If you spend plenty of time researching and planning before you launch your startup, you should be fine. But don’t be afraid to ask for help or change course.