90% of Start-ups Fail Because of... (NO, it's not what you think)
An article about what could be the most misleading, discreet and lethal mistakes a #start-up can fall for. It explains the main reason why 90% of start-ups fail despite the brilliant ideas, hard work, and persistence of their young founders and CEOs.
I'm sure you've heard it many times before:
90% of startup entrepreneurs get burnt out because their center of attention is around building the product and not their customer.
Or, they are overwhelmed, physically can't take it anymore and there is not enough time during the day for them to do what they have to do.
Others say that it's because they are not focused. They run right, left and center to catch as many rabbits as they can - and they catch none.
The list goes on. Those were just a few examples.
Well, I'm not denying (keep this word in mind, you'll see) that it could be one or a combination of those issues that transform great ideas into a total mess.
A big number of those startups succeed in growing their business beyond early stages and manage to get investors on board. That's because they surely had potentials - no doubt about that. But that 10 % of startups who have made it to the top will tell you that a brilliant idea and some money are not enough to make it.
So.. Why is it that hard to succeed? What is it that they are doing wrong? Is it one lethal type of mistake? or is it a series of bad decisions that take your startup to the unfortunate faith of being buried with the others?
Honestly, I will be fooling you if I said I know (don't go yet - there's more).
There are so many factors and particularities involved in each startup that makes it impossible for someone to give you one absolute answer or provide you with a list of mistakes to avoid.
In fact, the reason why I wrote this article is to help you decipher your own problem(s), especially that the articles you read about this subject (Why 90% of Startups Fail) never seem to fully address you or your situation.
Throughout my experience dealing with startup founders and CEOs, I realized that most of those common and misleading "mistakes to avoid" tips are actually not relevant to them.
In most cases, I was astonished by the mental and physical capabilities of startup entrepreneurs that I've worked with. But still, and despite their experience and shrewdness, they come to me asking for advice.
Here's what I think:
The one problem that is common among all struggling startup entrepreneurs is: DENIAL.
I will explain, but first, here's the definition of the word "denial" as explained by Mayo Clinic:
" Denial is a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to distressing situations — but staying in denial can interfere with treatment or your ability to tackle challenges. If you're in denial, you're trying to protect yourself by refusing to accept the truth about something that's happening in your life. "
The worse, most lethal, most discreet forms of problems are: NOT HAVING A PROBLEM.
Founders and CEOs of startups disbelieve the fact that they have a problem in a certain area or aspect of their business because they have been personally and emotionally involved in building that particular area or aspect and they grow a protective/defensive shield around it when they are confronted with challenges related to that specific topic.
To be fully transparent, I can't blame them: they got disappointed by others so many times.
They tend to stick to what they believe (disbelieve is more accurate here) and listen less to what others tell them. Throughout their business development journey, they have been somehow trained by bad advises and inexperienced people to reject constructive comments.
They built a mental fence around their business to reduce the number of problems they have to stand up to and be able to cope with the multi-layered challenges they are supposed to face daily - alone.
The only way to get out of this slow-killing management handicap is to look at everything in an unbiased, objective and zero-ego way.
If I have to give one single advice to all those brave, superhuman and smart startup founders and CEOs out there, I'll say:
ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
.. and work on solving it. That's how unicorns are made!