Mistakes You Didn’t Know Can Ruin Your Startup (If You Ever Start One)



April 20, 2021, 6:48 p.m.

Statistics say 90% of startups fail. Truthfully, that's not even an exaggeration; it's the brutal reality on the ground. A startup is not all about the "build my own business and live the good life" rhetoric most people erroneously believe. It involves a lot of hard work, sweat, investment (and I mean consistency, dedication, ingenuity, and of course, money). With all these in mind, it's not difficult to figure out why your dream startup can quickly transform from a promising project to a pile of ash. That is why you will need to know the setbacks that can potentially ruin your startup if you manage to get it off the ground at all.

The primary factor that can potentially cause the collapse of a startup is the lack of proper planning. I totally agree with Benjamin Franklin's famous words, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail". Planning is vital for the success of every new venture as well as every other thing in life. Most young entrepreneurs usually start off attempting to build their businesses with nothing but an idea. Not to say ideas are bad, but they must be backed with proper planning, which comprises market research, strategies, consulting with experts, execution techniques, etc. An actionable plan must closely guide the entire process from start to finish. Yes, there are cases where things might sway away from what was initially planned, but it is better to be prepared than taken by a sandstorm of disappointing shock.

Moreover, a plan must be realistic, complete with definite timelines during which specific milestones must be achieved to contribute to your startup's growth.

Another common factor that causes startups to fail is inadequate education on how the startup ecosystem works. This particular point can be a whole non-exhaustible topic on its own, but we'll discuss that another day. For instance, certain startups out there are in dire need of seed funding but do not know the first thing about preparing a pitch deck to rein in investors. Others do not even know the alternative funding available to them aside from bootstrapping (yes, the funding itself is also another headache on its own!). Then there's another group of startups who do not know how to articulate their ideas in a business plan or create a business model canvas. Business accelerators, Innovation incubators, and Technology hubs have pulled their weight over the years in mentoring, educating, and guiding entrepreneurs on achieving some of these things mentioned earlier. However, it is imperative that startups, especially those who do not have access to such facilities, use open-source channels such as YouTube and Coursera to tutor themselves.

Finally, startups fail because they do not invest maximum effort into developing the right market fit. As humans, it is only natural to see things from our perspective first due to our unique individual experiences. In the world of business, the opposite is true. The more solutions are created to meet customer needs and eliminate pain points; the more entrepreneurial successes are chalked. Startups who do not follow this rule in business usually fold up in little to no time. Speak to potential customers/target audience, conduct surveys and interviews, indulge in focus group discussions. Observe, listen and consider the opinions of all the people you are trying to reach or impact with your startup idea. Continuously do this not just to validate your ideas, but rather to modify and prove them wrong. Put all these together and use the rich data to tweak your idea or improve the business model constantly. After all, the solutions will be of no use to anyone if it doesn't solve the actual problems people want to be solved. Interesting enough, after going through this process of putting yourself in the consumers' shoes, you might realize what you had in mind to introduce and what they need are not the same.

Starting up a business can be an exciting journey, but it's no easy feat. Different challenges will be encountered along the steep rocky route of nurturing your baby to become a leading name in the market. On that note, always stay on top of your game, have a feasible plan learn, network, and focus on building or iterating your solutions to meet the market you are trying to penetrate.

Do you have an article that can be relevant to the African Tech space?

Submit your news stories, articles or press releases to


tag: Ecosystem, Education, technology, Startup,


Dorcas Benewaa Author

Dorcas is an upcoming journalist. She loves the creative arts and loves to write about startups, digital arts and issues in the tech sector.