The “F” Word

Todd Embley
Apr 29, 2014 · 3 min read

For every inspiring success story of a startup’s triumph against the odds, there are 9 more waiting in the wings to tell us a much different tale.

These tales can range from co-founder splits, money running out, investor deceit, or simply where luck wasn’t on their side. However, we don’t often hear or read about the failures. We are bombarded with the stories of hustling founders who cut a swath in the market with the ease of a hot knife through butter; those that took down the big behemoth of corporate with Olympian ease.

“But if only one out of ten startups survive (a far cry from ‘success’ mind you), then what happened to the rest of them?” one might ask. A fair question.

Where is this catacomb of carnage that must exist should the statistics be true? A great place to start is to look deeper into every success story, for every success comes via a wake of previous failures, and failures, dear reader, is the one word that strikes fear into the heart of even the bravest startup soldier. One should take a moment to stop and realize that this shiny amazing new entry to the market that is being lauded with acquisition offers, was most likely dragged through the mud kicking, screaming, and fighting its founders every inch of its rise to startup stardom.It may very well be that these smiling about-to-be-millionaires gracing the cover of Wired magazine were thoroughly despondent and living off Ramen noodles just a few months prior.

The truth of the matter is that there is an entrepreneurial hazing process that simply can’t be avoided, and it is not for the faint of heart or the thin of skin. Many of you reading this are nodding your head in agreement thinking to yourself “tell me something I DON’T know genius”. Ok ok point taken, we’ve all been there, but what if I then told you that you could, just possibly, beat the system?

What if it doesn’t have to be as bad as it seems?

The same way successful entrepreneurs have become successful learning from their own mistakes, what’s to prevent us from learning from theirs too?

Yes, maybe we can’t obtain 100% of the learning because we didn’t go through the pain ourselves, but there are enough tear-stained pillow cases and empty cans of SPAM lying around to begin to piece together some causation data. Then its a simple matter of welding together the shrapnel so that we can at the very least recognize the most common pitfalls as early as possibly to mitigate their damage or even avoid them altogether.

Thus we bring you The “F” Word info graphic: Why startups businesses typically fail and how you can try to avoid the same fate (designed using the fantastic tools over at Piktochart.com, thank you to them). We highly suggest you also read Do More Faster by Brad Feld and David Cohen, but in lieu of reading an actual book (we know you’re in a hurry, hustler) we’ll give you this head start.

Go get ’em cowboy!

The “F” Word Why 8/10 Businesses Fail


Originally published at sosv.com on April 29, 2014.

SOSV: Inspiration from Acceleration

Insights from The Accelerator VC—including our programs (HAX, IndieBio, Chinaccelerator, MOX, Food-X, dlab) & our startups.

Todd Embley

Written by

Recovering entrepreneur. 8 years in China > 8 months in Silicon Valley > now home in Canada. Mentoring entrepreneurs and building relationships are what I love.

SOSV: Inspiration from Acceleration

Insights from The Accelerator VC—including our programs (HAX, IndieBio, Chinaccelerator, MOX, Food-X, dlab) & our startups.

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