Top 10 reasons why startups fail

Top 10 reasons why startups fail

Wednesday September 24, 2014,

5 min Read


Startup culture is growing rapidly in India with startups coming up all over the country. Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai remain the key startup hubs but other areas like Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, etc. are not too far behind. There are a lot of positives but the fact remains that 80% of startups fail in the first three years. It's harsh but a fact. There are multiple reasons why a startup fail and after going through much of the web, I came up with a list of 10 major reasons for startup failure:1. Building a wrong product

Building a product without actually validating the product idea through potential customers is a bad move. And so is building a product that solves a trifle problem in a customer’s life rather than one which is the major pain source for them.

2. Not being able to build the right team

Often in a hurry to launch their product early, startups tend to build teams with people who have little or no interest in the product idea. This leads to product failure as the people working never give their best for the product.

3. Lack of unique value propositions

If your product fails to deliver one or more UVP as compared to similar products available in market already, your product is bound to fail. Before you start building your product, figure out at least four UVP which will help you stand out and give a competitive advantage increasing your profits.

4. Lack of persistence

If the startup founder does not have a strong passion for their product, they will not be able to persist through the bad times, which is a given in a startup run, more often than good times. Bad times question the faith of founders in their product. Lack of faith often leads to discontinuity of the product, which leads to startup failure.

5. Failing to pivot/change direction

Often due to the love for their initial/first product, startups, despite knowing that they are building a wrong product, do not pivot. This leads to wastage of time, resources and money too, eventually leading to failure.

6. No mentors or advisers

It is always good to have a mentor for your startup. Going alone there are more chances of you making mistakes that may lead you to failure. Mentors can guide you in your day to day decisions to avoid falling off the cliff.  

7. Slowness to launch 

Firstly, every idea dies if it is not implemented on time. This is because of the simple fact that we start losing interest and start under prioritizing as time passes. Secondly, in today's fast moving business world, everyday thousands of products are solving the same problem. In such a scenario, delaying the launch of your product might actually leave you behind the competition, which will eventually lead to product failure.

8. CEO / founder(s) unable to make decisions

A founder must always be clear of what his vision is for his startup. This helps in making quick and efficient decisions in critical times. Often startup founders are not clear of what they want to achieve with their product; about where they want to go etc. Unclear of their own path, these founders face problem while making decisions, many making wrong decision all along.

9. No business plan

You might wonder why I have put this at number nine. But it is indeed comparatively less important than the above listed eight reasons. Every startup once sure of their vision, and having got a mentor, must create a business plan to articulate every single aspect viz. customer segment, distribution channels, cost and revenue models etc. of their business. Business plan will give you a clear idea of your operations. Failing to create a business plan might lead you to lose one or other important aspects of your startup.

10. Unaware of competitors and changing market condition

Having figured out everything listed above helps an entrepreneur kick off the startup for a sustainable long run. But there is one more thing which should be addressed regularly and carefully, and that is market condition and competitor’s current performance. Many times, startups blinded by the passion for their product, forget to address this aspect of business, thereby launching something which is already there in market or over pricing products which are available at cheaper rates etc. A good market study, along with competitor analysis, can help startups to accelerate their growth by providing product and services which are still missing in the market.

Few more reasons

Out of control growth

Poor accounting controls

Not enough cash cushion

Operational ineptitude

Operational inefficiencies (spending too much)

Declining market

Obscure or marginal niche

Lack of succession and/or exit planning

Single founder

Bad location

Inability to change direction quickly

Making bad hires

Here's an infographic by the super-talented folks at Funders & Founders:


About the author:

Nitinkumar Gove is an entrepreneur, business enthusiast and a startup evangelist from Pune, India. He is a passionate blogger at 72, Leocraft which is an online blog addressing various aspects of startup world. He likes to meet new like-minded people and collaborate with them to create better tomorrow. He can be reached @NitinkumarGove.