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Don’t let your startup fizzle out – self-assess

Your startup – is it a high-flying, dynamic wonderland of go-getters and grand profits, or a pit of limping financial quarterlies, slumped employees and increasingly agitated customers?

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If the number of failed businesses is anything to go by, it’s probably the latter. In 2012, more than 400,000 businesses were set up. Out of that number, 50 per cent won’t be around to see 2015.

Looking at the financial landscape, it’s hardly a surprising figure. As high streets combust under pressure from the internet, businesses with older models or unmotivated employees are doing little but wasting their time.

Globalisation, increased consumer choice, companies (Amazon, most prominently) out-pricing competitors into submission – being a startup in this dog eat dog world is like being a Chihuahua in a gunfight against John Wayne. It’s going to end badly, and things will get messy.

Needs and wants of your customer

Despite this, company owners rarely attribute their failures to the marketplace.

Instead, according to business website Fortune, 42 per cent of those surveyed claim their startup failed because there was no market need for their product.

For some, however, this could be viewed as a bit of a cop out. The best team in a business can see the need for anything. Capitalism is not about needs, but wants – all your company has to do is convince consumers to desire your product.

Did anyone need an iPhone? Not particularly. Yet the mobile giants are set to make global sales of over 62 million in this quarter. The selling’s the thing and it’s your team who are responsible.

Indeed, 23 per cent of failed startup owners claimed their business failed thanks to hiring the wrong group. This shouldn’t be seen as bosses covering their own backsides, but as an indication that they failed to mould their team in the correct way.

Training, training, training

The right group of people don’t simply click into place like a jigsaw. They have to be rigorously trained to make the most of their skills.

Successful bosses understand that an effective team requires training. From an MA in Business Administration to a BSc in Team Management, the right university courses for off-the-job training could prove invaluable to your company.

You might think that the right team is all in the interview process, but you’d be wrong.

Those applicants who seemed like Don Draper during an interview might turn in on themselves when faced with actual work. Conversely, those wallflowers in interviews could behave like sharks come crunch time. It’s impossible to know.

No matter what the reasons for a business failing are, the buck always stops at the boss. But self-assessment of this kind should be the meat and veg of any failure. One startup’s demise could cause a far stronger one to rise from the ashes with proper analysis.

Look at where others go wrong – and make sure you don’t do the same.

Image take from here.

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