Minify your chances of failure: Startups

Creating a business from the ground up is tricky- there are no set rules to follow. Anything goes and you won’t know what works until you try. Your path to success and the most valuable lessons you learn are through trial and error.

A few years ago I was the Art Director of a startup design agency that specialized in startups. Working at that company I saw businesses fail and only the strongest persevere. After working with a variety of businesses, from escrow and healthcare companies to new tech and startups, I understood that it takes more than a good product or idea to succeed. Success requires continuous reflection and adaptation. It also requires making the right choices out of an infinite amount of options.

Minify the failure of your startup by asking yourself the questions below.

Do you have a good team behind you?

If you’ve had a business for a while and it’s growing, by now you can see that you can’t do it by yourself. You’re going to need a good team behind you. Part of owning a successful business means choosing the right people for the right job. Especially when you are starting out you can’t choose just anyone. You must invest time and money in the right people and people you can get along with! Some companies never get off the ground due to lack of passion or internal conflict.

Are you organized?

Processes, procedures, and programs are everything. Growing teams need clear ways to communicate, get new members up to speed and track goals.

Two struggles we faced as a startup company were not knowing how much to charge and hitting deadlines. Our old process of these two items consisted of sticky notes and note pads, but things would get lost! We considered different time and task management apps to tackle these issues. The programs we decided on kept our team accountable, on track and resulted in more happy clients. The more organized we were as a team, the more the clients could sense we were and realized the value we brought to them.

Do you have a game plan?

Think of each business like a house. Each house needs a solid foundation at least six feet deep. Without that foundation the house will crumble when an earthquake hits. That’s the same for every business. It’s okay to have an idea and run with it, to put your whole soul into your idea, but at a certain point you will plateau. It helps to have a plan or two to avoid crumbling when an earthquake occurs.

Put together a game plan before you put any ideas into action. Ask yourself what type of team members or companies you need to hire to be successful. Figure out your mission, vision, and brand proposition. Who your customers are, the value you bring to them and why you exist beyond making money.

Once any ideas are in motion it makes it hard to slow down. Put as many of your ideas on paper as possible. It will help you reflect on the past, present and future of your company and help you make strategic decisions as you move forward.

Do you have a good foundation that conveys the right message visually and verbally?

Businesses in the 80’s used door-to-door sales tactics. They also believed if the product is good, the product will sell itself. That’s not how the world works today. Every day we judge products, people and businesses by past experiences and preconceived ideas. This requires businesses to step up and create a business that people can trust- but trust isn’t easy to obtain. Gaining a person’s trust requires conveying the right message visually and verbally.

If you don’t have a great logo, website, or slogan, there’s a high chance your audience may not perceive you well. Consistency, messaging, and the way something looks helps us decide if we can trust it or not. If your product does not look good or sound good, you may not be able to launch your product to its full potential.

Are you waiting for the right time?

Some people say timing is everything. It’s true (sometimes) but for others the best time to start is now. It’s better to test, fail, learn and do things to get your business and ideas out into the world as soon as possible.

The top reason why companies fail is lack of a driving force. This could mean not knowing how to get out there in the world, but that’s when adaptability and drive come into play. Are you doing everything in your power to find the right people to help you get your product out there? Did you try something new you learned? Did you try out different ideas and fail a few times?

Maybe you even failed one too many times and you want to give up. That’s not right either. If you don’t roll with the punches and keep trying different methods, then you will surely fail.

Refine, Reflect, and Nurture.

Starting a company is difficult. The potential to fail is higher than the success rate of each new company. With the right resources and people, you can shape a startup into something valuable. You may start out with one simple idea, but as you build out your idea you learn what it takes to keep it afloat. The key to success is adaptability, reflecting and refining. Treat your business or product like a little human. Figure out the type of personality it has and then learn what it needs to grow. When you get to the teen or the adult years of your company continue to refine, reflect, and nurture.

Have Questions?

Do you need help on starting a company or putting a new project into the world? I am more than happy to guide you. Email me at or check me out at

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