What kills young startups

Starting a company is really really hard.

Most startups fail. Worse than that, most startups fail a long, painful excruciating death. It takes them months, more likely years, to figure out their business is not viable.

I am always interested in why companies fail. And the answer I’ve come to for most young, growing companies is very simple:

Of course, there are other reasons at stake…this is just my generalization.

Most startups fail because:

1 — Founders give up / do not try hard enough

I think this is the biggest reason that startups fail. And I think it is the hardest reason to internalize if you are an entrepreneur/founder. You’d never want to admit that the reason your “genius idea” failed was because of YOU. It is a tough conversation. But, I’ve learned through my own experiences, that being up front and honest with yourself can save you TONS of time and money in the long run. And that internal conversation is vital if you are trying to build a company.

Why is it so important?

Because building a company is really fucking hard. Near impossible. And if you keep lying to yourself that everything is going okay. Or that you really want to be doing it — it will eventually bleed through.

Who will know?

Your customers. Your teammates. And they are all who matter.

2 — Founders get distracted

Really? Distracted? Howso?

I think this is another huge reason companies fail. And again it is tough to internalize, especially as a founder, because it is really all on you.

The hardest part is that startup culture does the worst job about this. In fact, this culture fools you into thinking you are on track when in reality you are wasting your and others’ precious time.

So. What does this look like?

To me, and emphasis on to me, early on it is ALL about providing for your users.

Here is a list of shit that really does not matter:

  • Press
  • Investor $$$
  • Your friends telling you how good your idea is
  • Your parents telling you how good your idea is
  • Winning a startup competition
  • etc.

The list goes on and on. The common thread among all of these things, however, is one big thing: forgetting about your users.

This is a really tough process. It is motivated in many ways by circumventing your personal ego to make something happen.

That is tough. Why? Because it is really hard to be in touch with your ego so much so that you understand why you are doing what you are doing.

But trust me. Ask yourself the really hard questions up front.

3 — Product sucks

This one is obvious. And it is a direct result of the two points I spoke about earlier.


Originally published at Jordan Gonen.

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