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The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups

By Virginia Watkins,2014-11-12 10:39
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The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups

    In the Q & A period after a recent talk, someone asked what made startups fail. After standing there gaping for a few seconds I realized this was kind of a trick question. It's equivalent to asking how to make a startup succeedif you avoid

    every cause of failure, you succeedand that's too big a question to answer on the

    fly.

    Afterwards I realized it could be helpful to look at the problem from this direction. If you have a list of all the things you shouldn't do, you can turn that into a recipe for succeeding just by negating. And this form of list may be more useful in practice. It's easier to catch yourself doing something you shouldn't than always to remember to do something you should. [1]

    In a sense there's just one mistake that kills startups: not making something users want. If you make something users want, you'll probably be fine, whatever else you do or don't do. And if you don't make something users want, then you're dead, whatever else you do or don't do. So really this is a list of 18 things that cause startups not to make something users want. Nearly all failure funnels through that.

1. Single Founder

    2. Bad Location

    3. Marginal Niche

    4. Derivative Idea

    5. Obstinacy

    6. Hiring Bad Programmers

    7. Choosing the Wrong Platform

    8. Slowness in Launching

    9. Launching Too Early

    10. Having No Specific User in Mind

    11. Raising Too Little Money

    12. Spending Too Much

    13. Raising Too Much Money

    14. Poor Investor Management

    15. Sacrificing Users to (Supposed) Profit

    16. Not Wanting to Get Your Hands Dirty

    17. Fights Between Founders

18. A Half-Hearted Effort

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