Startups: Why Some Succeed While Others Fail

Ten successful business owners reveal the reasons why certain startups are successful while others flame out.

What is the ONE top reason that some startups succeed, while others fail?

This was the question posed to ten business experts. The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC),
an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most
promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC
recently launched
a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs
start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content
library and email lessons.

1. What’s Your Priority?

I worry when I encounter a promising startup with a viable business idea and significant growth but skewed priorities. It reveals a real danger. Twice in six months, I’ve been on the customer end of two startups whose skewed priorities (i.e., disregarding client/customer needs, basic functions of the product don’t work and aren’t fixed for months, etc.) sent me looking for alternate services. Dave Ursillo, The Literati Writers

2. Focus, Focus, Focus

Recently, “pivot” has been the sexy word on the startup block. If at first you don’t succeed, change your idea. Many failed startups don’t realize that startups take time and focus. You may not see results for 3, 6, or even 12 months. But if you are solving a real problem for customers, and you stay focused, the results will come. Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep

3. Trendsetters vs. Trend “Twisters”

I can’t count how many startups look at the current hottest trends and then emulate them with at best, a twist. This is not to say that ideas in left field will necessarily succeed, or that others don’t fail because they are ahead of their time, but I believe successful startups evolve from identifying a problem that needs solving, and then setting out to create the best solution to it. Michael Mothner, Wpromote

4. Adaptability Is Key

Many new startups believe their product/service is the best thing since sliced bread and have a close minded approach toward execution. Adaptability is imperative to the success of any business. Test your service, listen to feedback from your customers, and don’t be afraid to switch gears if something isn’t working. Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

5. Purpose Over Profit

Many entrepreneurs are told the purpose of business is to increase shareholder/investor value; however, the businesses that are succeeding in today’s New Economy approach business differently. They understand while the goal of business is to make money, the true purpose is to provide your customers with the greatest advantage or benefit to help your customer get closer to their ultimate result. Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits

6. No, Failure Is NOT an Option

There are many stories about how great entrepreneurs failed a few times times before they finally found success. Those stories are the reason I think some startups fail. They’re okay with failing, because the great have failed before. But be afraid to fail, be afraid that you can wake up tomorrow and lose it all, and you’ll put everything into your startup to make sure that it succeeds. Shahzil (Shaz) Amin, Blue Track Media, LLC

7. Tenacious E’s

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. It is a constant roller coaster that most people aren’t willing to ride, and startups often need to pivot and fight through tough times before making it to the next stage. Startups led by tenacious entrepreneurs that constantly persevere will eventually succeed. A startup can only fail if the founders give up. Kevin Tighe II, BrandStruck

8. Persistence

I feel people give up too easy and jump around too much. Focus on what you are good at and do that over and over and over and over again. You are BOUND to be successful if you do that. Jordan Guernsey, Molding Box

9. A Clear Vision

While undercapitalization is the most popularly cited reason, I think that many times what seems like a failure due to undercapitalization is actually a misapplication of the limited funds available because of a lack of a clear and well-defined vision. How can you effectively apply resources in a situation where you are not totally dialed in to what you are trying to achieve? Daniel Pirestani, InDemand Interpreting

10. Passion for the Mission

Starting a company is extremely challenging. In order for a startup to succeed every single member of the team must be passionate about the company’s mission and must establish a foundation built on trust. At Levo, we strive for excellence, without forgetting why we’re doing what we do every day — and the positive impact that we want it to have. Caroline Ghosn, The Levo League

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