The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups
October 2006 In the Q & A period after a recent talk, someone asked what made startups fail. After standing there gaping for a few seconds I realized this was kind of a trick question. It's equivalent to asking how to make a startup succeed—if you avoid every cause of failure, you succeed—and that's too big a question to answer on the fly. Afterwards I realized it could be helpful to look at the problem from this direction. If you have a list of all the things you shouldn't do, you can turn that into a recipe for succeeding just by negating. In a sense there's just one mistake that kills startups: not making something users want. 1. Have you ever noticed how few successful startups were founded by just one person? What's wrong with having one founder? But even if the founder's friends were all wrong and the company is a good bet, he's still at a disadvantage. The last one might be the most important. 2. Startups prosper in some places and not others. Why is the falloff so sharp? 3. 4.