If you want your startup company to succeed, you need to prepare for every possible scenario, including failure. Unfortunately, failure is a very real possibility. In fact, 90 percent of new startups fail.
Other statistics are looking just as grim: 75 percent of venture-backed startups fail. Under 50 percent of businesses make it to their fifth year, while only 33 percent of startups make it to their tenth. Finally, only 40 percent of startups actually turn a profit.
In order to avoid a similar fate, you need to understand why so many startups fail and what they did wrong. Some of these mistakes are actually avoidable, and you can solve many problems by planning meticulously. Here we will talk about the various reasons why startups fail.
Why Most Startups Fail
Let’s start with some of the most common causes of failure among startups. One major reason why companies fail is that there is little or no market for the product they have built. Maybe the product’s value is not compelling enough for people to actually want to buy it.
Marketing experts say that nowadays, in order to make a profit, you need to find buyers that have their “hair on fire”—which means customers who are in serious need of something. Once you find those people, you help them through their pain with your product. If the product doesn’t do that for anyone, then your business will likely fail.
There are also products that are “nice to have” and products that are “must haves”. As much as possible, you want to be in the latter.
Some companies are ahead of the market: this means that the market is not ready for your particular solution at this stage. Market timing is very important.
In some cases, the market size of people who need your product is simply not large enough. It can also be because the product itself does not meet the market’s need—even if there is a big demand for it. This can be just a matter of execution, or something else like marketing problems.
Some startups fail because founders are too optimistic about how easy it will be to acquire customers. They assume that creating a great product with an interesting website will open the door to success. While those things are necessary, it takes more than that to rise in this competitive market. You need to be able to attract customers for less money than they will generate in value.
Lack of Leadership
A lack of leadership can cause your startup’s downfall before it even has a chance to do anything. More specifically, you need a leader with a vision. They need to know their goals for the company and how to get there realistically.
Being a leader isn’t just a job title. You need to have the capacity to motivate your team and enable them to deliver their tasks in a timely manner. Usually, unmet targets are caused by bad leaders.
Having poor leadership will lead to a lack of direction, lack of coordination, lack of teamwork, and loss of morale. Without a clear direction, workers will struggle to understand what they actually need to deliver. This leads to poor coordination and teamwork, wherein everyone is doing everything for themselves instead of their teammates. It causes distrust and lowers morale.
As the saying goes, “people do not leave jobs, they leave managers”.
Lack of Complementary Skill Sets
Speaking of teamwork, it is important to balance the skills of each member when forming a team. You want people to have complementary abilities. In this way, each team member plays to their unique strengths. They can rely on each other because they are all experts when it comes to what they do.
Complementary skills are dissimilar skills that become more useful when combined. With a complementary skill set, your team will be able to work with each other towards a shared purpose.
In business, a team is made up of people who work together to achieve a common goal. Ideally, team members have skills that can complete tasks that others can’t. With this approach, the team can become autonomous and self-monitoring. They can also hold each other accountable for accomplishments and successes.
Personality Clashes of Founders
When building a team, you want your skill sets to complement each other—but the same can be said for your personalities. Clashing personalities between founders is an incredibly common problem for startups. This goes back to the issue of having no clear leadership. If founders cannot agree on one goal, one direction, and one vision, the entire ship will sink.
Running a business is a stressful endeavor, and conflicts will naturally arise. If personality clashes cannot be overcome, it will ruin everyone’s chances of success.
Entrepreneurs often disagree when it comes to strategy, execution, and direction, especially when it comes to ideas before and during development. When leaders struggle to cooperate with one another, it affects the rest of the team.
Lack of Funding
It is easy to run out of funds during the startup phase. In fact, it is the reason why many companies fail early on. The CEO needs to understand how much cash is left and whether it can carry the company to a milestone that can lead to a successful financing.
What frequently goes wrong is that companies fail to achieve the next milestone before cash runs out. In the early stages of a business, while the product is being developed, the goal should be to conserve cash. There is no point in hiring lots of marketing people if the company is still refining its business model, for example.
But on the flip side, founders also need to know when to start spending more. Once the business model has been proven, you can start using more of your resources. Creating a successful and profitable startup is an uphill battle. But avoiding some of these common mistakes can help you improve your chances. Remember that all successful entrepreneurs are passionate, committed, dedicated to their cause, and strategic in their approach.