Why is it so hard to build a Startup?

Chomwa Shikati
Dec 29, 2017 · 6 min read

Why did my startups growth, not happen as planned?

Why can’t I get my company to go viral?

Why am I so depressed while building my company?

Why is it that my hard work is not paying off?

Why, those questions all have specific answers but they all underline one important point.

It is not easy to build a startup.

Have you ever read about a dying startup that was never successful? Only if the founder went on to build a successful one. The media glamorizes entrepreneurship, making it seem like it is a walk in the park.

This has resulted in new entrepreneurs with a tendency to drastically underestimate what it actually takes to build a successful startup.

Speaking from experience, whether you trust me or not, I can tell you that building a business is insanely difficult.

It is a battle that begins in your mind, and most people don’t even see the starting line of entrepreneurship, being defeated by the hurdles that they can only see.

So why is it so hard to build and grow your startup?

From my experience I can identify five reasons why it is hard to build one.

You are creating something from nothing

Whether it has been done before or it is a new idea no one has ever seen, a startup is something that started as an idea and has to be turned into reality.

And that is the first difficulty, most have failed to overcome.

Think of it this way, Imagine that you have 2 million disassembled pieces of a puzzle but you don’t have a picture of the complete puzzle to guide you on how to put it all together, and the only thing you have to go with is the image of a complete puzzle that you hold in your mind.

Where do you start from? How do you even explain it to someone else?

Completing that puzzle will take work and a lot of time and it will be difficult. You will make mistakes, a lot of them. There will be times when you feel like giving up, but as long as every piece is available it is a difficult puzzle that can be completed.

Start ups are exactly the same way, you start out with an idea or image that you hold in your head and you have to breathe life to that idea.

You have to explain it to your team, investors and your customers. And those that see it, will help you build it.

It may sound easy but it is a very hard task, and once you lose focus of that image that you hold, you lose your pieces and in effect your startup fails.

Your dreams are too big

There is nothing wrong with dreaming big.

There is something wrong with dreaming big and not realizing what it is going to take to achieve your dream.

I’d like to believe every entrepreneur that has big ambitions has dreamt of building a billion dollar company. Those that are insanely ambitious have even gone ahead and started working on that dream.

But, once they realized that in order to build a billion dollar company you need to put in a lot of effort, innovation, creativity and years of dedication to that dream, requirements that they were not ready to give, they downgraded their goals because they could not meet the requirements.

Once that new goal got tough, they downgraded it some more.

The point being, most people don’t realize that any big dream will require a lot of from them, more than what they have anticipated. They start something only to realize that they cannot give or make the sacrifices that is required from them.

A startup will demand from you before it can give. If you are not ready to meet what it demands it will be difficult to build one.

Knowing what you need to do and what is required will make it bearable when you face the challenges.

You are indecisive

At this point, you have already gotten one of the main points, that being, a startup needs a lot of work.

There is no room for indecisiveness when you are building a company. It is not something you only choose to work on when you feel like working on it.

You can’t want it one day and not want it the next. It will never work.

Many people have likened a startup to having a baby, and I agree, you have to raise it whether you like it or not. You can’t choose days when to raise or not raise your baby.

It’s a full time job, and even when you can’t manage to always be there you need to put arrangements in place in order for it to grow.

A baby can’t grow without food, attention, love and protection from its parents. Neither will it thrive with a half-hearted care.

Being indecisive to what you want will not make you succeed. When you are indecisive it becomes a lot harder to achieve.

You need to closely mold your company into what you want it to be with your full attention. Indecisiveness will make your journey very difficult.

Culture and environment

Though most people would refer to this point as an excuse, the truth is blunt and succinct:

Not everyone is in Silicon Valley or New York.

You could be doing the right things but maybe the environment and its culture are stifling the growth of your startup.

Now that is not to say it is easy to build a company in the valley, am certain they are many challenges that founders have to face.

And well some of the challenges are different, because the culture and environment is different, and some of them are exactly the same.

But I do believe it is a lot harder for someone in a third world country to build a company to reach the same size, rate of growth and have the same impact as someone in a first world country.

It’s harder, but not impossible.

It just means you have to use different strategies and information than other companies in other areas. And most times, this will mean you will have to create your own new information and strategy.

This will be hard.

Things beyond your control

Try as we may there are things we cannot control.

Many startups do not fail due to lack of effort, lack of intelligence or even lack of money. Rather, again and again, we see companies with tens of millions in funding, run by the brightest, most driven young minds in the world, and they still manage to fail, usually due to elements outside of their control.

They are things we can control, for example, your effort and strategies. And then they are things that can impact our business that we have absolutely no control over, for example the economy, competitors and technology shifts.

In regards to that point I’d give a real life example of what happened in Zimbabwe. Some startups had no idea that the economy would take a downturn and running a business in that economy must have been insanely difficult.

In such cases, it is best to focus on what we can control and spend less time worrying on what have no control over. Just do your best.


Ultimately entrepreneurship is a leap of faith.

It will be difficult either way. Startups are hard even if you are successful. The most important part of your startup is your mind. If your mind is fragile, your startup will be fragile, and any challenge will seem difficult.

The only way to ensure that you succeed is by caring more about your startup more than anyone else. Quit the whining and focus on building your baby.

Are there any other reasons why it is difficult to build a startup? Do you agree with my list? Leave a comment and share your thoughts I’d like to hear from you.

If you want to privately get in touch with me you can Connect With me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Chomwa Shikati

Written by

A Lamp Lighter (cshikati@gmail.com)

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +683K people. Follow to join our community.

Chomwa Shikati

Written by

A Lamp Lighter (cshikati@gmail.com)

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +683K people. Follow to join our community.

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