I’ve worked with enough founders to have a significant sample of the worst mistakes I’ve seen them make. I’m not going to share with you the textbook ones: not having a process, the right tools, training materials, etc.

On my list, I will focus on those mistakes that are 100% on the founders, especially those who are non-technical and need to hire a developer to build a product.

Asking the right questions at the wrong time

“How about if we use tabs instead of accordions?” If you ask this question when your front-end engineer is coding, that’s a perfect example of asking the right question at the wrong time.

You can spend 30 mins creating a mockup in Balsamiq and another 30 mins reviewing the screen with your developer. That’s 1 hour vs. a full day that will probably take a front-end engineer to change a screen completely.

Choosing the wrong technologies because of hype

Today’s buzzwords are Edge Computing, GPT-4, Blockchain, and Metaverse. When building a product, the fundamental question to ask is: does this technology accelerates development?

Founders often mistake Prototypes for Production-ready products. It is OK for a Prototype to have setbacks, delays, and research/test/fail cycles. You are validating a technology more than a solution.

For Production-ready products, you are building something for the market, so you better pick the technologies that will help you to move faster. If you are unsure, then create a prototype first.

I don’t have a clue how to lead a dev team

This mistake is the most common and primary cause of dev team slowness. Founders tend to blame the team when they don’t know what they are doing.

If you are a bad leader, any of these two things will happen: 1) you will hire the wrong people, or 2) you will hire the right people and turn them into snails.

Here is my favorite list of bad leaders’ behaviors:

  1. Don’t make decisions quick enough
  2. Change directions often (sometimes within the same day)
  3. Don’t want to learn how to be better leaders
  4. Micromanage and distract the team
  5. Overwrite and overstep their team leads


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Leo Celis