10+ THOUGHTS & THEORIES (Pertaining to Pervasive PROBLEMS & Prominent PITFALLS!)
~99% of Startups Fail… But, WHY?!? [ThoughtsOnStartups.com]
Pervasive PROBLEMS & Prominent PITFALLS:
1) Mis-Matched Skill-Sets Among Co-Founders…
[full column soon]
2) Lack of Self-Awareness in Founders…
[Preview] Most people have a good level of self-awareness when it comes to their abilities to play the piano or pilot an airplane — or how good they are at golf or ice-skating… But I believe many entrepreneurs have a terrible level of self-awareness — particularly when it comes to evaluating their ideas, vision, strategy… likelihood of product-market-fit and/or overall success potential… [To Be Continued]
3) Problems Stemming from WORDS & DEFINITIONS:
What is a Startup?? What makes you an Entrepreneur??
— [Spoiler Alert: There are very few (if any) blogs, podcasts, advice, or “best-practices” that are intended for BOTH “Startup A” (a 30-employee B2B SaaS company with 7-figure annual recurring revenue, raising an 8-figure Series B round, at a 9-figure valuation, with aspirations of being a billion-dollar unicorn) AND “Startup B” (a pair of bootstrapping co-founders, working from coffee shops or co-working space, on their pre-launch MVP). Are they both startups?? Maybe in the same sense that an ice cube and the Atlantic Ocean are both water?
[Full Column Soon]
4) “Success” vs. “Failure”
[Spoiler Alert: It’s NOT as obvious a distinction as you’d think!] Full Column Soon
5) Would You Rather: A) aim for ~$25M, but hit $2.5M? -or- B) aim for $250K, but hit $2.5M?
Spoiler Alert: A = $2.5M and B = $2.5M but A ≠ B — (wait, what?)
[Full Column Soon]
A Plethora of Problems & Pitfalls Pertaining to: “IDEAS!”
6) “There’s no such thing as a bad [xxxx]”
Wait… What?? SERIOUSLY?!? If you wouldn’t say that about a “logo”, a “website”, an “app”, a “sales call”, or an “investor pitch”, then WHY do we say it about “IDEAS”?!? [To Be Continued]
7) Why (the F!) does every Entrepreneurship class or Startup Weekend or Hackathon or “How To Build A Startup” class start with:
“STEP 1: Everyone come up with an idea.”
[NOTE: If it’s for the experience / learning opportunity, then I guess I’m ok with it. But when it’s “FOR REAL”, a startup that you actually want to succeed, that you want others to invest in, that you want to dedicate your own time/money/life to?? Well, the “everybody think of an idea” mindset is, in my opinion, a big part of why ~99% of startups FAIL!]
8) Not all “ideas” are created equal(ly?)… The difference between a regular “idea” and what has been dubbed an “IDEA+++” by ViralWhatever.com (creators of 40+ Viral Ventures, each reaching over a million people and collectively engaging ~495 MILLION people)…
9) “What are you GREAT at?!? DO MORE OF THAT!!!”
[Several sports examples/analogies — Coming Soon] TEASERS:
A) Michael Jordan: Basketball career vs. Baseball career…
B) Why it doesn’t matter if Bill Belichick sucks at passing, catching, running, blocking, or tackling… [full column soon]
10) Optimistic vs. Realistic
… and why those “Never Give Up!” and “Winners Never Quit!” motivators can often do more harm than good! [full column soon]
11) RISK-TAKING: To Celebrate? Or To Mitigate?
Successful entrepreneurs are often characterized as “Risk-Takers” — But, wait… The 99% of UNsuccessful Entrepreneurs Were Risk-Takers Too, Right?! [Full Column]
11b) The problems/pitfalls of using OUTLIERS as benchmarks…
For every AWESOME inspirational story of success that you hear, remember there are HUNDREDS (thousands?) of HORRIBLE failure stories you’ll never hear… (To Be Continued)
12) Funding Frustrations?
Spoiler Alert: MOST investments (in pre-revenue startups) are BAD investments!
13a) YOUR Assumptions, YOUR Beliefs, YOUR Confidence [#ABC?] — can (unfortunately) NOT be taken as OBJECTIVE (about YOUR startup — because EVERY ENTREPRENEUR feels that strongly about THEIR STARTUP!) so they are simply not objectively relevant if investors (or you, yourself!) are attempting to evaluate your startup’s success odds — OBJECTIVELY!
13b) THE (only?) OBJECTIVE INDICATORS
(That a Startup Has Better-Than-Average Chances of Success)
1. Product-Market Fit (proven, not based on your assumptions)
2. Viral Traction / Growth
3. Repeatable Customer-Acquisition Model
4. Profits (or at least steady or growing revenue)
— 5. Funding. (Only for how it will allow you to grow —
— NOT because it’s truly as objectively validating as 1–4)