The startup environment is like playing the slots: exciting, nervous, disappointing and exciting again. A cycle that only ends if you hit it big or run out of money, and too often it is the latter. Startups fail, large or small, and the majority of them fail. After a lot of late night thoughts reminiscing on my own startup experiences, a light bulb went off. Startups fail when they do not possess three crucial factors. The right product, at the right time, with the right message.
Product is where the value lies. A bad product is doomed from the start. Most startups I have encountered suffer from products that are either not necessary or not scalable–from another Social Network to a WifeSwapping app (yep, true story). So before even venturing into the startup world be sure the product holds up to those two things. This isn’t to say a bad product won’t find investors, but a good product makes everything easier.
It really is everything, especially in the digital space. Startups need two things to grow: product interest and money. The latter is usually in the form of investments, and investors tend to invest in fads. In the last 10 years we have seen them flock to Social Networks, Content Websites, AdTech, Fintech and now Cryptocurrency. Sometimes you just need to have a good enough product at the right time to succeed.
This is probably the most overlooked element for a startup, and it needs to be a primary focus. You need to really sell your product, not just to customers but to your employees and investors too. When you have employees simply there for the paycheck you lose a lot of value, and even a boring product can get employees excited if presented correctly.
All of these points sound like no-brainers, but I have been surprised as to how many startups fail to focus on them.