Why Startups Fail and How to Prevent It

why startups fail

Key takeaways:

Why startups fail? It’s typically due to one or more key factors, such as a lack of preparation and planning, poor understanding of the target customer’s needs, and/or not developing a product or service that adequately solves customer pain points (which is more commonly known as not achieving “product-market fit”).

Financially speaking, poor cash flow management and inadequate funding can also cause major roadblocks. Finally, a poorly scoped execution plan with limited prioritization and unclear milestones will also lead to a slower-than-expected rate of progress and potential startup demise.

Table of Contents

An astonishing percent of tech startups fail every year. The common adage is that for every 10 business ideas launched, only one will become successful enough to turn a profit and remain viable in the long term.  Those are long odds!

Startups falling into this failure range often have several commonalities including a lack of funds, an inadequate team or mismanagement of resources.

Recently, some of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile startups have met their end. Take WeWork, an office-sharing firm that was once valued at $50 billion and had plans to revolutionize the traditional workplace with its flexible leases and modern design aesthetic. Its meteoric rise came crashing down when it failed to secure a much-needed capital infusion from its main investor Softbank Group Corp., leading to layoffs and corporate restructuring.

Another household name in Silicon Valley, Juicero, had ambitions to make juice-making easier with its juice press machines powered by connected packaging cartridges filled with fresh produce. It was one of the biggest VC investments during its launch in 2016 but soon after publications like Bloomberg revealed that you could achieve the same result by squeezing the pouch with your own hands instead of relying on the expensive machine. The company eventually shut down operations in 2017 due to unsustainable losses.

The once-promising ride-sharing app, Sidecar Technologies Inc., is another example of why many startups fail despite receiving millions in funding and having industry veterans on board as advisors. Launched in 2012, the company had plans to be a major disruptive force within transportation services but sadly succumbed to litigation woes and financial pressures when Uber Technologies Inc rolled out its own competing product just two years later.

Munchery Limited was another promising food delivery startup that hit hard times due to competition from other replacement services such as DoorDash which offer cheaper prices as well as more convenience options like delivery tracking apps. Despite raising 25 million in total venture funding ($85 million Series B) and employing almost 500 people at its peak, Munchery announced it would be failing in 2019 due to declining demand for meal delivery services allowing larger companies like DoorDash overshadow them completely.

Finally there’s Nutrino Health Ltd., which raised over $20 million but failed miserably because it didn’t take into account consumer preferences correctly when launching its product – personalized nutrition insights (via data analysis). Without addressing consumer feedback quickly enough or mapping out a long-term marketing strategy , Nutrino Health couldn’t keep up with competitors who were already offering similar products at cheaper prices or even for free! As such they abruptly shut down operations earlier this year leaving many investors at risk of losing their entire investment amount.

These five examples readily demonstrate why so many Silicon Valley startups fail despite having impressive teams, attractive valuations and big ambitions – there are simply too many variables involved which can lead to even experienced entrepreneurs struggling when faced with unexpected challenges or changes in customer behavior towards their product offerings.

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Top Reasons Why Startups Fail

While there are countless factors why startups fail, some common reasons can be identified for why so many startups and tech companies don’t make it, including:

reasons why startups fail

1. Insufficient Funding

A lack of adequate funding is often at the heart of why businesses fail. Without sufficient capital to hire staff, develop products and services, pay for marketing or cover unexpected costs like equipment repairs or customer refunds, startups can quickly find themselves in financial trouble with no way out.

2. Poor Planning & Execution

Starting a business takes careful planning and execution in order to be successful. Failing to create a realistic business plan or doing a poor job of carrying it out can mean missing major milestones and ultimately running out of time and money before your goals have been met.

3. Lack of Market Need

No matter how great a product or service may be, if there’s no need for it in the market then there’s no reason why people should buy it – leading to inevitable failure for your startup. It’s important to understand your target customers, their needs and how you can fill them with your offering before you get too far into developing your product or service offering.

4. Poor Management

Many entrepreneurs get too caught up in the day-to-day operations of running their business that they lose sight of their ultimate goals and objectives. This leads to organizational chaos over time as tasks start falling through the cracks and nothing gets accomplished effectively anymore due to mismanagement from above.

5. Competition

The marketplace is often crowded with similar offerings all vying for consumers’ attention and dollars. This makes it hard for new entrants (like startups) to stand out among the competition without immense effort and resources that they often don’t have access to early on when trying to gain traction in the marketplace.

However, by understanding why many startups fail before getting started can help entrepreneurs increase their chances of success by ensuring they are doing everything possible from adequate funding sources to planning and execution.

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What You Can Do to Avoid Startup Failure

The fact is that many startups and tech companies fail due to poor planning and lack of knowledge about running a successful software business. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand why so many businesses don’t make it through the first year so they can take steps to ensure their business is well equipped to tackle any issues that may arise.

The following are pro tips to help startups avoid becoming yet another statistic:

Have a solid plan

Before launching your business, it’s essential that you create a detailed business plan outlining your goals, objectives, budgeting needs and market strategy. This will help you stay organized and on track when it comes time to implement your ideas into action.

Minimize risk

Startups should evaluate their options thoroughly before making any major decisions that could put the company at risk. Rushing into investments or partnerships without due diligence will only increase the likelihood of failure—so always think several steps ahead before taking the plunge!

Most successful startups start with an MVP to test their business ideas or hypotheses before launching a full-scale product.


Forming relationships with industry professionals who have extensive experience in starting and running their own businesses can be invaluable for learning more about why some startups succeed while others fail. Mentorships are also great for providing startup founders with advice on how best to manage their finances and apply effective strategies for growth over time.

Diversify revenue streams

When looking at why startups fail, one common problem is having too much reliance on a single source of income such as advertising or contracts from particular clients. As such, companies should aim to diversify their sources of income by expanding into complementary industries or developing new products/services along similar lines which would provide an additional stream of revenue should anything happen with the existing source(s).

Strive for efficiency

Efficiency is key in ensuring all aspects of your business run smoothly and cost-effectively—from marketing campaigns down to daily operations like accounting/finance tracking and customer service/support systems. Implementing strategies such as automation wherever possible can drastically reduce costs while still offering customers top-notch customer service experiences—something which could be vital when determining why startups fail or succeed in difficult markets!

Know your customers inside and out

Understand customer’s needs thoroughly and be ready to respond to any changes quickly, including pivoting if needed while staying abreast of changing trends in customer behavior or technology advancements that might affect market conditions.

Measure performance regularly & be hyper responsive

Keep track of key performance indicators regularly – revenue growth, cost reduction, marketing campaigns and more – using analytics tools or manual reviews at regular intervals for better decision making.  Moreover, stay connected with customers through your website or social media channels to address their queries or feedback promptly.

reasons why startups fail

Develop a strategy for dealing with bumps along the road

Have an open-minded attitude towards mistakes and missteps.  Learn from failures and move forward positively with knowledge gained from those experiences instead of fearing it too much.

Listen & implement customer feedback whenever possible

Collect customer feedback proactively through surveys, interviews etc. and analyze it properly. Identify patterns by segmenting data based on various factors whenever possible. Implement collected feedback into product/service versions if viable after assessing all the aspects including cost vs benefit analysis.

Invest properly in technology

Forging meaningful relationships and taking advantage of cost-efficient opportunities can be the difference between success and failure for any startup.

In terms of software development, offshoring provides an excellent option for smart startups as it allows them to access experienced talent and deep technical knowledge at cost effective rates.

Additionally, offshoring provides a much bigger pool of talent than you can traditionally find in a local market, and it enables you to boost productivity since developers in different time zones can extend the total number of hours that your software development team can be working in a single day.  Not surprisingly, for these reasons the vast majority of successful startups and tech companies offshore at least some –or all – of their software development efforts.

startup failed

What Venture Capital Firms Say About Startup Failure

Startup failures are a fact of life in the venture capital world. VC funds want to protect their investments, so when a startup fails, they take the time to carefully consider what went wrong and what lessons can be learned from it.

Here’s common wisdom you’ll often hear from venture capitalists during conferences and webinars:

why do startups fail
  • Understand the Problem: Many VCs believe that failure often happens because the team didn’t completely understand the problem they were trying to solve. They suggest taking time to really dive into customer needs and do extensive market research before proceeding with any decisions or investments.
  • Appreciate Growth Opportunities: Failure isn't always a bad thing; many VCs view it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. By taking failure as an opportunity to explore different angles or approaches, companies can learn and build on prior experiences instead of passing off blame or making excuses.
  • Be Open About Failure: Recognizing and being open about areas where mistakes were made can help teams better understand how they can grow and improve in the future. VCs appreciate teams who are honest about their failure, rather than try to conceal it, which only causes more trouble down the line.
  • Don't Take Things Personally: The most successful startups tend to recognize failure as just part of doing business instead of letting it weigh them down psychologically or emotionally; this allows them to move on more quickly without dwelling on past events too much. Taking things too personally will often lead to over-analyzing behaviors which can ultimately distract from focusing on product development and innovation, two important aspects of maintaining a successful business venture.

By understanding these points, startup founders can better prepare for potential failures by creating strategies and plans upfront that address these issues head-on—and keep their ventures heading in a positive direction no matter what happens along the way!

If all this sounds like too much hassle and distraction, give turnkey a call. We specialize in hiring the best and brightest software developers for startups.

What is the #1 reason why startups fail?

The #1 reason why startups fail is a lack of market need. To succeed, startups must provide a product or service that meets a market need and is in demand. Without an identified customer base or target market, a startup’s chances for success are significantly diminished. Additionally, even when there is an identified customer base, if the startup does not properly gauge user needs or design its product to meet those needs, it will likely fail as well.

How can offshoring your software development help startups avoid failure?

Offshoring can help startups access a larger talent pool and lower operational costs. By using offshoring, startups can offshore labor-intensive tasks such as customer service, software development, or design to international locations where the cost of living is lower and resources are more readily available. This allows startups to focus their energy on serving customer needs without having to worry about stressful recruiting and retention problems on the development team. Additionally, by leveraging the skills from offshoring locations, startups can create a unique product that helps them stand out from the competition.

February 21, 2023

TurnKey Staffing provides information for general guidance only and does not offer legal, tax, or accounting advice. We encourage you to consult with professional advisors before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or legal rights.

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