4 Common and Avoidable Start-Up Mistakes

By Andrew Millman Monday, November 11, 2019

4 common and avoidable start-up mistakesIn the business world, just as in life, we all make mistakes from time to time.

Unfortunately, there are several common mistakes made by new start-ups that can be both time-consuming and costly. However, these mistakes can be avoided if you’re well informed.

Mistake #1 - Not Choosing the Right State of Incorporation

A crucial mistake made by many start-ups occurs when choosing the best state in which to incorporate.

Traditionally, the state of Delaware is considered the gold standard and the most attractive state to potential investors. Delaware is the most popular state for start-ups to incorporate in, and for venture capital investors, it is the only state to consider.

The primary benefit to incorporating in Delaware is that Delaware offers the strongest and most current corporate law structure, which means that Delaware provides the greatest asset protection of all 50 states. Essentially, Delaware erects an impenetrable wall between your personal assets and your new company.

If you don’t incorporate your start-up in Delaware, you could—possibly—be putting your company’s assets at risk.

In some cases, this common and avoidable start-up mistake can be addressed by converting the business entity to another state. However, many states do not allow entities to convert from one state to another, and you’re then stuck with a company formed in the wrong state.

If you decide to start all over again and form your company in Delaware, you’ll have to spend more money in order to dissolve the corporation and form another one in Delaware, where you should have incorporated your start-up in the first place. This error can be avoided by carefully mapping out and choosing the optimal state of incorporation for your start-up.

Mistake #2 - Choosing the Wrong Type of Entity

Another common but avoidable mistake amongst new start-ups is choosing the correct type of business entity. Generally, most new start-ups who plan to raise capital will establish a C corporation, with an eye toward the future—bringing investors aboard, raising capital and going public. In many cases, when fundraising is the plan, an LLC or non-profit corporation is less than ideal for a start-up, for a variety of reasons.

However, for private businesses or for holding real estate or other assets, the LLC is the entity of choice.

New business owners should thoroughly educate themselves or contact an attorney or tax professional to discuss details about which type of business entity would be best for their start-up.   

Mistake #3 - Wrong Amount of Authorized Shares

Did your new corporation authorize the correct number of shares? It is important that your start-up has the proper number of authorized shares to issue. If your company has too many authorized shares you’ll pay higher Franchise Taxes. However, having too few shares can be an even bigger problem and will require filing an amendment to the Certificate of Incorporation to obtain more shares, which is also expensive. 

Mistake #4 - Choosing a Company Name Too Quickly

Although it may seem like a foregone conclusion, the company name can often be the biggest blunder for start-ups. Before you file your Certificate of Incorporation you should ask yourself—and answer—these questions:

  • Is the matching domain name available for your website?
  • Is the company name available in the state in which you plan on incorporating?
  • Is the company name available in the state in which the company will operate? 
  • Are there any existing trademarks upon which you could be accidentally infringing? 

It’s a good idea to wait until you have investigated any and all potential problems with your company name before you file your start-up documents.

Entrepreneurs that spend the time to lay out their business plans and research their target markets possess a much greater chance of success. A bit of due diligence goes a long way in preventing wasted time, wasted money and wasted opportunities.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about incorporating your new start-up in Delaware. Feel free to call us at 1-800-345-2677, Ext 6133 or email us.

Next: Fixing Mistakes in a Delaware Corporation


*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

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There is 1 comment left for 4 Common and Avoidable Start-Up Mistakes

Shivam Sahu said: Saturday, January 20, 2018

Indeed a great article about startup mistakes. You really had shared the major mistakes done in the startups these days and It will be great If you could avoid doing these mistakes. Most of the young people are now getting into startups but I have seen a lot of them not maintaining the quality of their team members. For a successful startup, It is always important to have a strong and dedicated team and should never avoid the any regular mistakes done by any of the team member. I am glad that you have covered this topic in a detailed manner and Thanks for sharing it with us.

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