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Analysis of 32 startup post-mortems  

I'm always wary of "Top N startup mistakes" type posts, because they're generally too specific to a single person's viewpoint, shaped by the specific events that happened to them. Moreover, being an expert in how startups fail does not necessarily give you the tools to make one succeed.

That said, this particular list is extracted from 32 startup post-mortems, and so has at least a veneer of objectivity about it (but remember, the plural of anecdotes is not data).

Ignoring your users is a tried and true way to fail. Yes that sounds obvious but this was the #1 reason given for failure amongst the 32 startup failure post-mortems we analyzed. Tunnel vision and not gathering user feedback are fatal flaws for most startups. For instance, ecrowds, a web content management system company, said that “ We spent way too much time building it for ourselves and not getting feedback from prospects — it’s easy to get tunnel vision. I’d recommend not going more than two or three months from the initial start to getting in the hands of prospects that are truly objective.”

This, for example, is a very common reason for failure - if you're working on your very first startup. Most people seem to make this mistake. But it's one that burns so badly that you're unlikely to do it again. So, is the list really valuable? You decide.

  1. Didn't value customer feedback
  2. Built a solution without a problem
  3. Had the wrong team
  4. Poor marketing
  5. Ran out of cash
  6. Didn't have a viable business model
  7. Released the product too early or too late
  8. Lacked passion and domain expertise
  9. Didn't pivot
  10. User-unfriendly product
  11. Pricing issues
  12. Didn't leverage connections
  13. Disharmony with investors/cofounders
  14. Lost focus, got distracted
  15. Burned out
  16. Got outcompeted
  17. Unable to raise funding
  18. Started up in the wrong location
  19. Lack of full-time commitment
  20. The recession

More details in the article.

More from the library:
Judging people based on grammar
Pick a goal
Why VCs lie
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