The article was originally published on softwarebusinessgrowth.com
by Sergey Kizayn, CTO, Intetics.
Every startup goes through three basic stages as it strives to become the next Uber or Amazon: idea, launch, and growth. Each individual phase of this life cycle presents unique challenges that can make or break any company.
The secret to becoming a successful startup lies in knowing your strengths and weaknesses and overcoming all the obstacles you will face along your journey. Preparation is key. Having the right help from the right people at the right time is the magic bullet.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the main reasons startups fail and how you can avoid these problems by choosing strategic partners at the most opportune moments.
Why Do Most Startups Fail? No Market Need.
According to Crunchbase, there were 3,002 startups launched globally in 2018. The standard failure rate for startups is 90 percent. This means that only 300 of those companies are probably still operating today.
So, what did those successful startups know and do that the other startups didn’t?
A 2018 report by CBInsights zeroed in on the top 20 reasons for startup failure. The number one culprit? No market need for the product or service.
All startups begin with an idea. In order for that idea to turn into a successful startup, it has to solve a common everyday problem in an uncommon way. But not only that. There also has to be a definitive target market and need for the solution.
During the initial ideation of the startup life cycle, it is imperative to spend whatever little funding you have to validate your idea and test the market to see if customers will actually pay for your product (and how much!).
Everything about your business depends on the results of this questioning, including whether or not you will be able to get funding, how much funding, who you will be able to hire, etc.
At this stage, it’s time to call in the experts.
Stage 1: Bring In The Consultants
Partnering with the right consultant during the ideation phase of your startup has several crucial benefits. They know best practices. They know the industry. They know market trends and whether or not your product fits. And if it doesn’t fit, they know how to make it fit.
Yes, you are doling out money that is not going directly to the development of your product but hiring the right consultant at the outset can save you a ton of time and money in the future, not to mention many, many headaches. Plus, consultants know how to help you get that first round of funding, which you’re going to need in order to launch your product.
If you want to survive the ideation phase and move on to actually launching your product, hire the right consultant.
Stage 2: How To Avoid Running Out Of Cash During The Launch
According to the CBInsights report, the second reason startups fail is because they simply run out of cash. The launch phase of the startup life cycle is all about making your idea a reality. And you’re going to need a lot of money to do it successfully.
There are two important partnerships you will need to seek out during this phase: venture capitalists and a great software development services provider.
It’s time to build your product. You need to hire a team, obtain office space, and start creating a buzz about your company. You’re also going to need to raise your first round of seed funding. Enter venture capitalists!
Venture capitalists not only provide promising startups the cash needed for day-to-day operating expenses, but they also deliver strategic advice and business expertise. They’ve been here before. They’ve done this many times. They know what works and what doesn’t. They know exactly the best ways for you to spend the money they are investing in you and your idea.
In addition to getting financial help from venture capitalists, one of the best decisions you can make during the launch stage of your startup is to find the right development partner for some or all of the programming and testing. It’s incredibly expensive and time-consuming to hire a full staff of developers in-house. This is especially true if you are located in one of the more expensive tech-hub regions (San Francisco, New York, London, etc.).
Software development service provides can provide as many or as few developers as you need for any given time, all with the exact skills you are looking for at the moment, all at a much lower cost than hiring full-time staff and having to deal with expensive benefits packages. You also will save money on office space and computers. Plus, the launch phase is when you will start to get initial user growth, so the product needs to be user-friendly and properly tested at various stages of development.
Partnering with a reputable service provider for a large chunk of your development needs is the number one way to control your burn rate during this phase of the startup life cycle.
Stage 3: Scaling Without Failing By Hiring The Right Team
The third most common reason that startups fail is because they don’t hire the right team.
When you reach the growth stage, it’s all about scaling your business. You’ve had a successful launch and are growing your user base. This is also the time you’ll want to grow your development staff, not only to handle upgrades and new features but also to provide the best user experience possible at this crucial time. At this point, how you scale your development team will either make or break your startup.
Perhaps you want to add more features to your product or create another product altogether. When you’ve been working with a trusted development partner throughout the launch stage, they already know your product and business processes inside and out. They can quickly pivot and provide the expertise you need to send your startup into unicorn land.
For example, Intetics worked with a medical device startup company to create a brand new application to simplify surgery preparation. By trusting their dedicated team, the startup founders were able to focus solely on promoting and improving the app rather than all the nitty-gritty development details. Through this strategic partnership, the startup scaled its business even further with another useful product, all while saving thousands of dollars in development costs.
While it is certainly sad to consider the astronomically high failure rate for most startups, there is a lot to be learned from their trials and tribulations. Knowing the challenges ahead of time can provide a roadmap and game plan to overcoming the obstacles and successfully moving through each phase of the startup life cycle. But you won’t be doing it alone. Working with experienced consultants, venture capitalists, the right service provider, and other important partners is the real key to success.
In other words, you’ll get by with a little help from your friends.