Here’s Why 90% of Startups Fail

By Naomi Peng Naomi Peng has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 20, 2021

Building a startup is not for the faint-hearted. As a startup, failure is almost inevitable. 90% of startups fail, and according to CB Insights, the prime reason for this is the lack of an actual market need for the product or service, while the second reason is the lack of sufficient funding. CB Insights found this fact in 42% and 29% of cases, respectively.

Not to dissuade promising entrepreneurs, but to reiterate that; being part of the 10% that succeed is no child’s play. There’s the need to work smarter and harder for your startup to achieve success. 

Remember, a startup often tests assumptions and ideas that haven’t been tried before, and even if those ideas do exist, a new startup in the ecosystem aims to do better than existing ones. Looking at this need to be different, one can understand the primary reason why most startups fail— no genuine and long-lasting demand for their products and services.

If you plan to establish a startup, here are a few things that can save you from crashing hard into failure.

Understand Your Target Audience; Is There Really a Need for Your Startup?

Don’t create products and services that no one wants, or that is based on the rave of the moment. Always aim for long-term relevance. 

A startup’s goal ought to be creating a scalable business model and understanding who and what to build for. On the contrary, some startups ‘blindly’ create, and hardly take time to evaluate what people really want. They are often so ‘obsessed’ with their idea and vision that they don’t realize that their proposed audience may not really need what their business is offering after all. 

Photo credit: Eren Legend, with permission

According to Eren Legend— professional athlete, world champion, and celebrity fitness trainer; when you understand your target audience, your business begins to fall in place, and things become less challenging for you. “Trying to please every kind of audience will only burn you out, and it also poses as inconsistency. As an entrepreneur, it is paramount to understand your audience. Things will begin to fall in place once you determine this,” he advises.

In September 2021, Epic Games announced the shutdown of its HouseParty app, which also included the ‘Fortnite mode’ feature. HouseParty allows people to talk and play games with others and create that ‘house party’ feeling. It is justifiable to say that HouseParty had increased relevance because of the pandemic and the lockdown that came along with it. People were confined to their homes, and they had a lot of time on their hands to interact on social media. 

Houseparty recorded 50 million new signups at the height of the lockdown, but as the pandemic gradually wore off, other video chat apps came into existence and gained more ground. And according to data from Apptopia, the number of signups has continually declined since the pandemic rally. And now, HouseParty has finally closed the curtains. 

Creating a product or service that stands the test of time and that your audience would need in the long run is essential to the success of your startup.

Research Into Your Existing Competitors: What Have Startups Done Before You?

It would be best if you don’t underestimate market research.

Always carry out preliminary research before you dive into establishing a startup. Research cannot be skipped. It is very essential, especially if your idea is not new and you’ve already got existing competitors. You need to know what others have done before you, and how your product or service may place you in the front row.

Proper market research must be done to understand your (proposed) target market. Knowing and understanding the needs of your (intended) customers can help you meet their needs better and even in a more proficient way than existing startups. Also, this research can give you insights into untapped opportunities in the niche, identify consumer problems, and maintain a competitive edge in your industry. And in the long run, this helps to boost your sales and business growth. 

As Canada’s first-ever Physique World Champion, Eren Legend exemplifies how he did thorough research before deciding to pursue his career as a high-level professional athlete. “At the time I began my career as an amateur, I had seen a void that needed to be filled. No natural athletes were emerging in Canada, and there wasn’t even a conversation at the pro level of what I had been pursuing. I realized that I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pave the way and cement history. The inclusion of the men’s physique division was new to the world of competition; therefore, there was an exceptional opportunity to make history,” he recalls.

However, keep in mind that you can’t just research at the beginning of your startup (or career) alone. You’ve got to do some research at various stages of your startup life cycle, as this will provide you with a sound understanding of your marketplace as things evolve.

Build the Right Team

Teamwork makes the dream work. And just like Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” 

Let’s face the reality of it; you can’t build a startup all by yourself. To bring your startup idea to life, you’d need a team to help you take action and implement it. Even if it’s a team of 5 people, it’s much better than trying to do all the work by yourself. 

However, this is where some business owners get it wrong; they don’t build a team that embodies their vision and mission. Startups need direction and a clear idea of the short-term and long-term goals. To achieve this, your team needs to have a sense of cohesiveness and harmony to achieve the startup’s ultimate goal. 

Photo credit: Eren Legend, with permission

Teamwork is important. Throughout my life and career, I can attribute a lot of my success outside of athletics and in the world of business; towards having the right team and systems implemented and in place,” Legend agrees. Values like teamwork and staying faithful to helping people achieve better body awareness, have made Legend a go-to fitness consultant, wellness coach, and celebrity trainer. He has been able to train actors such as Harley Morenstein (Epic Meal Time), Pablo Schreiber (Halo TV series) & Ricky Whittle (American Gods TV show).

Wrapping Up

In summary, these are essential and foundational tips to help your startup get on track while also saving it from failing fast. However, these are not the only factors that would decide the success of your startup. Others may include sufficient funding, appropriate branding & advertising, building customer satisfaction, among many others. 

By having these tips within your grasp, you’re a step ahead already.

By Naomi Peng Naomi Peng has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

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