A lack of funding, poor management, and horrible execution are several of the most typical reasons startups fail. In this post, I’d like to share four non-typical, yet critical reasons that can give you some ideas about the survivability and resilience of your startup.
Without further adieu, here they are:
1. You can’t pull the trigger on time
The first to market are usually the brands that get on top and stay there for a long time. Not always, but mostly. This is because you have to release products to get feedback and that first, second, third round of revisions to a product or service are what eventually makes it the best it can be.
Successful startup entrepreneurs are those who have an antsy trigger finger; not the visionary types who sit around dreaming up ideas all day. If you are dreaming more often than executing, then you need to be careful. Very careful.
2. Your focus is all over the place
An author can’t write ten books at the same time and expect to market the next best seller. Construction crews can’t build a wall until the foundation’s laid, nor the roof before the walls are in place.
Being busy, multitasking day and night – these aren’t a sign of business success. In fact, spreading yourself too thin can cause your startup to fall into oblivion.
Being laser focused, knowing what customers want and understanding how to get a product to them that fulfills that need does. You should also be clear on your singular vision for the company first. Then get as “busy” as you want!
3. You don’t care about your startup’s profitability
This is the big bopper. Here’s the cold, hard truth – not all entrepreneurs focus on profitability. Many care about securing VCs and Angels money (“we got $10 million in Series A funding – high five!”); many care about getting acquired by bigger companies; but not many care about generating enough profits and returning investors’ money quickly.
The reality is, without money, you’re totally sunk. If you’re not in it for the money, sell the company to someone who is and watch the magical transformation that takes place soon after.
It’s surprising, but this is one of the biggest reasons a startup can fail, absent funding issues and other financial problems. Entrepreneurs who refuse to focus on increasing revenue and minimizing expenses are doomed to fail.
Hire someone to care about the money if you’re driven by financial savvy. Let them make you accountable and advise you when moves have to be made.
4. You have no idea what your businesses expiration date is
To put it more simply, you don’t have a clue what your runway is. That is, the current amount of time your business has left if current income and expenses stay the same. Suddenly, one day you wake up and look at the books and realize you can’t keep the doors open after the rent check comes out next month.
This is an important final takeaway for any startup owner to heed. And it’s one of the most foreseeable, preventable issues that leads to startup failure. Three-month receivables, vacation payouts, bill payments, etc. All can be foreseen and accounted for.
And here’s the beauty of knowing your business’s runway: If you don’t have the money and you know you’re 3, 6, 12 months out from closing you still have time! Not so for those who fail to analyze and plan. Don’t.
If you want success, you should be aware of your startup’s strengths and weaknesses – then you should capitalize on your business’ strengths and work hard on overcoming the weaknesses.
Use the four reasons above as signposts, so that you can be aware of what’s going on with your business, and react accordingly.
Good luck in steadying your startup ship!