Why Brand New Startups Fail

In 2018, a company called WeWork was valued at $47 billion. That’s a staggering amount of money for an office space-sharing company that is only ten years old. 

But people were willing to pay it because WeWork had managed to take something simple renting out office space and turn it into something enormously profitable. 

What was its secret? Part of the reason that WeWork has been so successful is the company’s cofounders.

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, have built the company on their unique brand of “woo-woo” philosophy a mix of inspiration and encouragement meant to make their employees feel more like they’re part of a family rather than part of a corporation. 

This makes sense in theory: While corporate culture can be soul-crushing and demoralizing in most companies, WeWork has turned theirs into something positive. But there’s also another explanation: With all its success and hype, some say that WeWork had grown too fast too soon.

Webinar: Why Startups fail with Tom Eisenmann
1. Startup failure is often due to a combination of factors, such as poor market research, inadequate business models, and fierce competition.
2. Thorough market research is crucial for understanding the target audience and identifying market gaps.
3. Sustainable business plans, effective execution, and strong leadership contribute to startup success.
4. Financial management plays a critical role in preventing financial crises and ensuring sound decision-making.
5. Continuous adaptation and responsiveness to changing market dynamics are key to startup survival.


Overvaluation is a common reason for startup failure. It’s when a startup is valued too highly, in terms of its ability to generate revenue and its potential to grow.

When a company is overvalued, its founders will likely spend more on salaries than they can afford and rent more office space than they need. 

They might also spend too much on marketing and hire employees without regard for their salaries or how the money will be used within the company. Over-spending helps lead to cash flow problems which cause startups to fail later on in their life cycle.

Understanding the intricacies of the market is vital for startups. Dive into our comprehensive guide on Marketing Research: 14 Best Practices to discover proven strategies that can lead your startup to success.

Lack Of Market Need

The first step for any startup is to understand the market. You need to know who your customers are, what they need, and how you can fulfill these needs. The second step is to make sure they want what you have to offer, as opposed to what someone else has been offering them.

For a startup idea or business plan to be successful, there must be both a strong understanding of the market and an ability on behalf of its founder(s).

And employees that go beyond simply understanding the needs of the potential consumers they have an innate sense of how those needs can be met by themselves or others within their industry.

Disagreements Amongst Founders

If you’re a founding team member, then you likely already know what it’s like to be in the trenches with your co-founders. You’ve probably argued over everything from who should be hired for an open position to what your next big idea is.

But there are some things that founders need to agree on if they want their startups to succeed and these things can get lost in the shuffle of everyday business planning:

  • A vision and roadmap for where you see your startup going
  • The type of team members you want working with you
  • Your company’s culture, values, and mission

Quantitative or qualitative? Choosing the right research method can impact your startup’s decisions. Explore the differences in our guide: Marketing Research: Definitive Guide to Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research.

Poor Marketing

Many companies fail because they don’t market properly. Marketing is one of the most important components of any business, as it helps you build your brand and create a need for your product or service in the mind of the consumer. 

While advertising is part of marketing, there are other ways to get your name out there that will help you grow your business more quickly and efficiently.

You can start by building relationships with customers through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

You can also use online forums where people share interests in common (like Reddit) to find like-minded individuals who could become potential customers or clients. 

Once these connections have been made, focus on providing value to them by answering questions they may have about what you do as well as sharing tips on how they might be able to improve their own lives using something unique that sets them apart from everyone else around them.”

Hiring The Wrong Team

One common reason why some startups fail is they hire the wrong people. This can happen in several ways, including:

Not hiring enough people. Sometimes founders think they can do everything themselves, but this isn’t sustainable and ends up costing them time and money that could have been avoided by bringing on more employees.

Hiring too many people at once. A startup shouldn’t hire an entire team all at one time because it needs to be careful about who it brings on board and make sure each person fits into the company culture before letting them go through training.

Or onboarding programs (which cost money). It may also mean hiring too many people if there aren’t enough tasks for everyone to do or if there isn’t enough work coming in from clients yet to justify paying salaries out of pocket.”

Unrealistic Financial Expectations

It can be easy to forget that you have to pay for your own business. You may have spent years working at a company where everything was free, or you may not know that there’s a difference between the cost of goods and services, and the actual price point offered to customers.

For example: if you are selling a $5 product that costs $1 to produce, but also needs packaging and shipping costs (which can be significant), plus taxes on top of it all it might seem like you need a profit margin higher than 100%. 

But once you factor in all those additional costs into your pricing model, suddenly things look different!

You can’t afford high-priced talent because you don’t know what it takes?

Not true! Hiring great people is important but only after finding out how much money they need from day one. In an ideal world, everyone would work for free until they’re proven worthy… but this isn’t an ideal world; 

It’s real-life with bills to pay every month so make sure everyone knows what is expected from them before committing any more time or energy to this project beyond just initial conversations about salaries/compensation packages etcetera.

Unlock the potential of marketing research as your startup’s secret weapon. Learn how to wield this tool effectively in our article: Marketing Research: Why It’s Your Secret Weapon & How to Use It (Marketing 101).

Not Knowing When To Pivot

You’re never going to get it right the first time. The best startups are those that pivot, adapt, and evolve as they learn more about their customers and the market conditions. 

It’s often this kind of flexibility that makes companies successful in the long run and that means you should be able to look at failure as a sign of future success rather than something to fear.

Pivoting is also an important way for new businesses to test assumptions about their product or service such as whether there is demand for what they have to offer, or whether there’s something better out there. 

It’s a great way for entrepreneurs who are still figuring out what works best for them (and what doesn’t)

They Didn’t Solve A Problem

The most important thing for your startup is to solve a problem. You can’t build something that doesn’t solve anyone’s problem and expect it to be successful.

But what if you don’t know what the problem is? In this case, ask yourself if people are willing to pay money for a solution. If they are, then you’ve found your business idea!

Let’s say there aren’t enough jobs in your town would people be willing to pay money to get more jobs in their area? This would solve their problem of not having enough money or things they need because they’re not working as much as they could be or wanted

If yes: Congratulations! You’ve just discovered an idea worth pursuing! But before you get too excited about starting your business right away (or even continuing reading this article).

Let’s make sure there aren’t any other potential problems lurking below the surface that might prevent us from succeeding with our venture (and instead lead us down a path of failure).

The Idea Came Too Late

It’s not always easy to know when you should start a new business, and sometimes you may think you have all the time in the world and take too long to get started. 

You may also find that you waited too long because of other factors, such as not having enough savings or resources available at that particular time.

Navigate the challenges of decision-making in the startup world. Gain insights into effective strategies with our guide: How to Make Better Marketing Decisions.

The Idea Came Too Early

If you don’t give yourself enough time to work on testing out your idea, researching it, making improvements, and doing market analysis before taking it public then it could be considered as coming too early. 

The market may not be ready yet for what they need so they have no interest in buying from your company just yet!

Out Of Control Burn Rate

It’s one thing to run out of money. It’s another to have no idea your company is running out of money.

The first step to controlling burn rate is knowing how quickly a dollar leaves your business and taking action immediately when things look bad. 

To figure out its burn rate, a company subtracts the amount it spent in a given period from the amount it had at the start of that period, then divides by the number of days (or weeks) that have passed since it invested those dollars in their product or service offerings.

If you run an online business with high traffic volume and high-margin products, this calculation may be simpler than if your business sells lower-priced merchandise or services.

In which case you may want to do some research into how other companies calculate their burn rates so that you can keep pace with them (or maybe even beat them).


The competition is good. It helps you understand your customers and the market better, and it makes you a better business. If there were no other options for a product or service, people would be less likely to buy from you (or even consider buying from you).

When people talk about competition, they often think of it as something negative but competition can teach us valuable lessons about what our customers want that we might not have realized otherwise.

The competition also shows us where our strengths are and where we need to improve for us to serve our customers better.

Bad Location Strategy

Location is important in a business. Where you are is not just about where you are physically, but also where your customers are.

If you’re running a retail business, for example, it makes sense to locate near schools or universities to attract young adults (your potential customers). 

If you’re running a restaurant, then it makes sense to be close to office buildings so that people can pop down for lunch during their break.

But location isn’t just about the physical location; it’s also about the location of your business in the minds of your customers.

And this is where marketing research comes into play. Marketing research helps companies identify new opportunities for growth by identifying new markets.

And understanding how consumers will respond to them before making investments like opening up new stores or launching new products into existing markets.

Applying a scientific approach to marketing research can provide valuable insights for startups. Learn more about this methodology in our article: Observation, Inference, and Testing: The Scientific Approach to Marketing Research.

Didn’t Define Customer Needs Early Enough

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new product or service. When that happens, it’s easy to forget about your target customer.

If you don’t know what your customers want and need, then how can you design a product or service that meets those needs? That’s why defining the customer experience is one of the most important pieces of any startup business plan.

It’s also important for startups to think about when their customers will use their products or services and what they may be doing at that time. This helps ensure that whatever product or service is being offered fits into people’s lives as seamlessly as possible.

Knowing how customers feel about their product is just as important as knowing what they think of it. 

If people aren’t satisfied with their purchases, then they won’t continue buying from you over time and this could affect your company negatively down the road (for example: if more competitors enter into the competition).

Knowing Too Little About The Market

If you’re new to the market, the first thing to do is learn as much about it as possible. Know your competition, know your customers and what they care about, know the problem you’re solving for them and how big that market is.

 Make sure you understand exit strategy and timing too if a company can’t buy itself out or go public within 2-3 years of launching, then it’s probably not worth investing in at all.

Ineffective Cash Flow Management

It’s also important to make sure you have enough cash reserves for unexpected expenses. Cash flow management is the process of managing the cash that a business has on hand and the money it will receive or payout in the future. 

Startups are at a higher risk of failure than established ones. The reason for this is simple: startups don’t have any reliable revenue streams, so they need to be able to finance their operations until they’re making money. 

If they rely too heavily on debt financing which can include taking out loans from banks.

Or investors may find themselves unable to meet their obligations when their revenue doesn’t materialize as expected, leading many entrepreneurs into bankruptcy before their businesses even get off the ground!

This means that effective cash flow management is critical for new businesses looking to keep up with demand and stay afloat during tough times (like during recessions).

Ignoring Balance Sheet Basics

The balance sheet is one of the three fundamental financial statements. It’s a snapshot of a company’s financial position at a given point in time and is comprised of three sections: assets, liabilities, and equity (or net worth).

The balance sheet provides insight into how well your company can meet its short-term debt obligations with its current levels of assets and existing cash flows. 

The information contained within it can be used to determine whether or not your business has enough capital to fund its operations now, as well as in the future.

Not Having An Exit Strategy

Exit strategies. The term seems to have become a buzzword for startups who are looking to sell their company, and it’s easy to understand why. 

An exit strategy is an opportunity for you to take advantage of your hard work and put a cash value on it before you go out of business or get acquired by someone else.

But, unfortunately, not all exits are created equal nor do they happen in the same way. And because there’s no single right way to go about exiting your startup once you’ve reached that point (or even if you haven’t).

Focusing too much on having an exit strategy may keep you from making progress toward actually building up your business.

Here are some things every entrepreneur should know about how exits work: they’re not one-size-fits-all; they don’t happen overnight, and they should be detailed in writing early and often throughout the process so everyone involved knows what’s going on at any given time.

Not Focusing On A Target Audience

You’re not alone. Many startups make the same mistake. They don’t focus on a target audience and instead try to be all things to all people, or they don’t think about who their product is for in the first place.

Why does this matter? The first thing you need to know about your target audience is that it’s not the same thing as an “audience.” An audience is anyone who might be interested in your product, like potential customers or even current customers (if you have any). 

Your target audience is a subset of that larger group of people with whom you want to reach out and connect through your website, social media channels, blog posts, and other marketing materials.

Your target audience also isn’t necessarily made up of friends and family members although some businesses have been built from close relationships within families!

Focusing Too Hard On Competition

Focusing too hard on competition is a common mistake, but one that can be easily remedied. It’s okay to be inspired by what your competitors are doing and how they’re doing it, as long as you don’t let it become a distraction. 

Focus on what makes your business unique and what sets you apart from the rest and remember that being in a crowded market isn’t necessarily bad for everyone. 

It just means that there are plenty of people out there who have the same needs you do and will be more likely to choose you over the competition if their needs are met by your product or service.

So go ahead: enjoy the competition! But make sure not to focus too much on their products/services and lose sight of your own goals as well!

Not Being Able To Delegate Or Handle Stress Well

When you are the one who is responsible for everything, it can be very challenging to delegate tasks to your employees or take a break when you need one. You may feel like you’re not up to the task or that someone else will be better suited for the job. 

However, this is an important step in growing your business as well as maintaining healthy habits yourself.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by stress and pressure at work, here are some ways that might help:

Take time off from work (not just weekends). 

Even if it’s just half a day each week, this can help reduce stress levels and allow your mind to recharge itself so that when you do return to work on Monday morning after having had some time away from it all over the weekend…you’ll have fresh ideas ready for implementation!

Poor Leadership

Poor leadership can lead to poor morale and high turnover. It’s a fact that the leaders in your company are responsible for setting the tone for their teams, which is a big part of what makes them so important. 

Unless your organization has an amazing culture, you’re going to have trouble retaining valuable employees who feel like they’ve been neglected or let down by their bosses.

Poor leadership can lead to poor decision-making. When everyone is working towards one goal, they all must have access to the same information so they know how their work fits into the greater picture and how it will be used once completed (or not). 

A lack of communication between departments means there will be more confusion as people struggle with tasks without understanding why they’re doing them or where they fit into the bigger picture. 

Poor communication leads directly back into this topic: if employees aren’t engaged with their work and don’t understand why certain decisions were made about it, then things are never going to end up well!

Poor leadership can lead to poor communication within teams themselves; especially those spread across multiple locations such as offices around town or even across continents! 

There’s nothing worse than having someone say something on Friday morning only for another person from another office overseas to hear about it on Thursday night.

They’re already two days behind everyone else when there should be no need since everything happens instantaneously online these days…

Hiring The Wrong People

Hiring the wrong people is costly, in more ways than one. First of all, it’s hard to find and hire good people. It takes time, energy, and money to get them on board, and then you need to invest in training them and keeping them motivated. 

You’ll also have to pay them while they’re learning on the job instead of getting results for your company that could have been put toward revenue growth or product development (or both). Worse yet: If you’ve hired someone who doesn’t fit into your company culture or isn’t a good fit for his/her job, you could be setting yourself up for failure by hiring this person in the first place!

It may seem like common sense that only hiring talented employees would lead to success but many startups struggle with this nonetheless. While some founders are excellent at identifying talented employees, many others aren’t so lucky: 

A recent survey found that 58 percent of small businesses had difficulty finding qualified candidates during their most recent search process!


Over-ambition is a common reason for startup failure. It’s easy to fall into this trap when you’re so excited about your idea that you want to do everything yourself, but it’s important to remember that nobody can do everything well at once. 

If you’re over-ambitious, you’ll likely find yourself lacking focus and repeatedly having to rework your strategy as circumstances change or new problems arise. You may also have difficulty delegating tasks when they need doing, which will slow down your progress even further. 

If none of this seems like much of an issue yet (and why would it?), consider how much worse it could be if your business ever did get off the ground: if there are no processes in place at all or none that are working properly.

Then any time spent on improving them will go straight out of the window when things inevitably hit turbulence later on down the line!

If this sounds like something that might apply to your startup ideas—or if you simply want more information about ways in which these things can affect startups generally—keep reading our blog posts on Why Brand New Startups Fail!

Lack Of Planning

While many people think that planning is boring, we believe that it is essential to any business. It’s the first step towards success! If you don’t plan for your startup, chances are high that it will fail.

Here are some tips on how to start planning:

Write down all of your ideas and make a list of them in order of importance or interest. This may sound basic, but many people skip this step and later regret it when they can’t remember their initial thoughts and ideas.

If an idea doesn’t work out, write down another one; do not get discouraged! When trying new things (especially with startups), there will be many failures along the way before finding something successful enough to make money off of it – so don’t give up at the first sign of difficulty!

Once all relevant information has been documented about each project idea then decide which ones should receive more focus than others; 

Also, consider how long each task would take if completed successfully then use those numbers as motivation during times where progress seems slow or difficult.”


So did we learn something? Yes, it seems that most startups are doomed to fail because their founders’ inexperience and lack of business knowledge get in the way. This is not to say that startup failure is inevitable, though! 

The good news is that there’s always a solution to every problem, even if it might be hard at first. The key here is finding out what your weaknesses are as early on as possible, then focusing on strengthening them before they can become fatal flaws for your company.

Further Reading

Explore more insights on why startups fail and how to avoid common pitfalls:

Understanding Leading Causes of Startup Failures A comprehensive analysis of the primary reasons behind startup failures and actionable steps to mitigate them.

The Reasons Behind Startup Failures: A Deep Dive Delve into the statistics and factors contributing to startup failures, along with expert advice on increasing your chances of success.

Study: Top Reasons for Startup Failures in 2022 Get updated with the latest research on the specific reasons that led to startup failures in the year 2022.


What are the main causes of startup failures?

Startup failures can stem from various factors such as inadequate market research, lack of sustainable business models, poor financial management, and fierce competition.

How can startups avoid common pitfalls?

Startups can minimize risks by conducting thorough market research, creating a robust business plan, managing finances meticulously, and continuously adapting to market changes.

Is there a single factor that determines startup success?

No, success depends on a combination of factors including a unique value proposition, effective execution, strong leadership, adaptability, and proper resource allocation.

What role does market research play in startup failure prevention?

Market research helps startups understand their target audience, identify market gaps, and refine their product or service offering, reducing the risk of launching something unwanted.

How important is financial management for startups?

Proper financial management ensures startups have a clear understanding of their expenses, revenue streams, and cash flow, allowing them to make informed decisions and avoid financial crises.