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Why Startups Fail

I think, to succeed, we should know what failure is and what it takes to fail.

We look at numerous startups that fail. Why?

The first problem is a weak business model, market research and strategy.

As a startup, entrepreneurs have to operate with most uncertainty, they do not yet know who their customers are and what should their products be. A strategy can be worked out by accurate forecasting and planning, startup lacks those due to insufficient or no historical data to analyze.

An extensive process and management is required to apply all the above in startups. It may sound a little weird to perform analysis and derive forecast with no historical data, but this can be done on approximation to forecast closer to accurate. Knowing what your product should be and who the target customers are will help a startup to succeed. A market research and validation of product with the target customers is required at this phase.

The second problem is that early entrepreneurs may think of the traditional approach about managing a business is old school and follow the “just do it!” approach where things become less managed and more chaotic. “Just do it!” approach is essential to get started with your idea, but the same approach don’t apply when it comes to managing a business. Even if startups are excited and enthusiastic, chaotic management approach never work, it may seem very disinteresting to make all the policies and processes to run a business in an organized manner; however, it is essential. Keeping this right will help when the business is scaling. While the business is scaling, any entrepreneur will want to focus more on operations of the business instead of making policies and processes. Policies and processes are essential to run a business and if focused at startup phase, it’s more likely for a business to succeed.

The other problems arising later in a startup are product problems and capital. The key job of the entrepreneur here is to set financial milestones for raising capital. An entrepreneur should understand how much capital is left and should be able to analyze whether the remaining capital is sufficient to reach the financial milestone and a positive cash flow. A product problem may lead to a failure, the initial product that is launched may not be required by the market and hence is discarded by its users. This problem can be overcome by the entrepreneurs by validating their ideas with the customers before and during development. Later a feedback mechanism can be implemented to know the specific customer needs and make iterations to the product when required.

I found David Skok’s article on “Why Startups Fail” very helpful and also focus deeply on some additional aspects. Check out,  Why Startups Fail by David Skok