My first Fast Company article was published today! Most of us have experienced this problem at some point. This comprehensive guide can prevent your career from stalling. “It can be challenging to push back or ask for clarification, especially with some bosses. But, you can’t settle for ambiguity in your job requirements or fuzzy feedback on…Read More
16 tasks for December that will help you nail your performance review, get a promotion, or even land a new job You may be thinking about the 12 Days of Christmas right now, how little time you have left in the year, and how much you need to get done. I know that the holidays…Read More
How to overcome the biggest barrier to adopting successful habits How many times have you shared advice with someone only to have them say, “Pssht, is that all? Everyone knows that. It’s common sense.” But, I’m sure you’ve noticed that common sense does not naturally translate into common practice. During my decades-long career, I can’t…Read More
Redefining your career, starting a new business, and improving your life are all “marathons.” You can’t try to sprint to the finish line and hope to achieve sustainable success. Don’t treat your “marathon” like a sprint from Larry Cornett on Vimeo. I’ve made this mistake in the past too. We all want success as quickly…Read More
I read a very interesting article on TechCrunch today about why startups fail. They shared data from research that Blackbox conducted for their Startup Genome project, which is trying to uncover what makes Silicon Valley startups succeed vs. fail. You can gain access to the free full report here. I highly recommend that you take the time to read through it. Pretty fascinating data.
My biggest takeaway from all of this? Startups absolutely need great mentors. Surprisingly, hands-on help from their investors did not have a significantly positive effect on their performance. I believe that most startup founders assume that they are going to get the guidance they need to be successful once they have secured the backing of a solid VC firm. This certainly does not appear to be the case. As I look through the key findings from the report, these points of failure seem to quite avoidable if a startup had a strong, smart team of mentors that they could turn to for advice on these issues. In particular, the most common reason for startup failure was “premature scaling” along one or more key dimensions (i.e., Customer, Product, Team, Financials, and Business model). Knowing how and when to scale a startup appropriately along these dimensions is something that an experienced mentor understands (e.g., someone who has learned from his or her own scaling successes and failures).
15 Key findings from their report
- Founders that learn are more successful. Startups that have helpful mentors, track performance metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth.
- Startups that pivot once or twice raise 2.5x more money, have 3.6x better user growth, and are 52% less likely to scale prematurely than startups that pivot more than 2 times or not at all. A pivot is when a startup decides to change a major part of its business.
- Premature scaling is the most common reason for startups to perform worse. They tend to lose the battle early on by getting ahead of themselves. Startups can prematurely scale their team, their customer acquisition strategies or over build the product.