I dont think it matters what race you start as, they all have their issues and strengths. Its a matter of playing until you understand what they are and how to overcome an issue or use a strength.
When you colonise, you need to upgrade the infrastructure of the planet to avoid a panelty. Ignoring this can mean you never have any money, so when you colonise, you need to do an upgrade or 2 to the planet itself to remove the panelty.
Lock the teams.
Turn off Pirates.
You shouldnt only build one sort of ship. The game isnt built that way. Every ship has a counter to something else, so each ship also has another one out there that renders it impotent or vulnerable. Each ship has a purpose, so fleets that have all ships have all the bases covered.