Common reasons why startups fail by Failory.com:
- Marketing mistakes were by far the most common, and they were generally speaking the most deadly with 69% of all mentioned marketing mistakes being fatal. In fact, the fatal marketing mistakes were more numerous than all other fatal mistakes combined (56% vs 44%), as can be seen in the pie chart below. By far the most common reason for shutdown was lack of product-market-fit which constituted more than half of the marketing mistakes, but more on that below.
- Team problems – friction, lack of experience, lack of motivation, etc., were the second most common. They were some of the least-deadly percentage-wise (only 39% of all mentioned team problems being fatal), but because they are abundant they were still the second most common reason for shutdown.
- Financial problems and mistakes were the third most common. That said, bearing in mind more than 50% of the projects didn’t have any budget to begin with and more than 75% of the projects were self-funded, it’s a surprise that only 16% of the projects point at financial problems as the major reason for failure.
- Tech problems were extremely rare, which is surprising considering almost all projects in the data have a technical side to them. The most common remark was that too much time and effort was spent on tech that proved to be useless in the long run. The most common answer to “a thing you would do differently next time” by far was “I’d talk to customers and validate my assumptions before writing a single line of code”. That said, a big % of tech problems were fatal: e.g. relying on a 3rd party API that changes can ruin a business overnight.
- Operational problems were quite rare and not that deadly, but it’s important to mention that most interviewees ran software projects, so operational problems (e.g. suppliers, distribution) are not as common as in brick-and-mortar and physical product projects by definition.
- Legal problems were rarest, mentioned only four times, but two of those four proved to be lethal. For most early-stage startups the legal side is a non-factor. Yet, there are still industries where you can’t afford to ignore it (food, finance, etc.).