Startup Success: Steps To Take When Failure Is Not An Option

when failure isn't an option in a startup

If you’re on the brink of launching a startup, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the statistics. It is estimated that around nine out of ten new businesses fail. This figure is likely to make you anxious and apprehensive, but what’s to say that you can’t make it into that exclusive 10 percent club? If you’re aiming for startup success, here are some steps to take when failure is not an option.


If you’ve ever watched Dragon’s Den or read heroic stories of entrepreneurs whose fortunes have changed overnight, you may be thinking that it can’t be that hard to start a business and turn over a decent profit. There may be a few examples of overnight success out there, but the reality is that creating a successful business is often a painstaking process, which takes a lot of time and effort. If you’ve got an idea for a new business, it’s so important to make sure you do as much preparatory work as possible before you invest time and money. If you’ve got a product, you’ll need to make sure that there’s a market out there. Are people actually going to buy it? Is there anything similar already available? You’ll also need to get an accurate idea of how much it’s going to cost you to set the business up and keep it going. Once you’ve got figures, the next step is to make sure that you have means of financing the company. Where are you going to get the revenue you need to get it off the ground?

Preparation is key in almost every aspect of running a business. From financing and marketing to product development, pricing, and logistics. Even when you’re up and running, you’ll need to ensure that you’re one step ahead at all times.

Before you start working on logos or thinking about who you’re going to employ, do some background research on the marketplace, and make sure there’s an opening for your product or the service you want to offer. If the market is already saturated and you’re not offering anything new or different, you’re going to find it hard to make a splash.

Get To Know Your Customer

It’s wise to get to know your customer from day one. Before you’ve even got a product on a shelf, you should find that market research proves incredibly valuable. If you’re selling something, it pays to gain an understanding and an insight into the person you’re targeting. How old are they? What do they do? How much do they earn? What do they like to spend their money on? Do they shop online or in-store? What kinds of features or incentives are most appealing to them? How much would they be willing to spend on a product like yours? What do they consider important when they’re shopping around?

If you can answer all these questions, it will help you put together effective plans, which are tailored to your audience. You can use the information you obtain to shape your pricing strategy, your marketing plans, and the way you go about trying to attract new customers and maintain the interest of existing clients. It can also help you to develop and promote your USP.

There are many different ways you can conduct research. Examples include surveys and questionnaires, focus groups, feedback and comments boxes, interviews, and observations.

Protect Yourself

Business disasters can have a catastrophic impact on multinational corporations worth billions of dollars, let alone fledgling businesses. As a startup owner, it’s always a good idea to try and protect yourself from issues, rather than attempting to address them if and when they pop up. If you understand the risks involved, and you have methods of coping, you’ll reduce the chances of encountering obstacles, and you can ensure that you react swiftly and minimize disruption. Consider switching to a cloud server rather than depending on a physical server or downloaded programs or software systems. If you need to recover documents or backup files, you don’t need to stress or call in technical experts at vast cost. The cloud gives you an easy, hassle-free solution, which enables you to backup and recover files immediately, as well as facilitating safe and efficient collaborative working and giving you access to instant updates.

Technical hitches are not the only barrier you may come up against. Although downtime can be costly, there may be other things to think about. Consider legal issues, such as trademarking, patenting, and employee rights, and take steps to avoid disputes. It’s always good to have access to legal expertise to protect your reputation, your products, your brand, and your finances.

Anyone can make mistakes in business. Even if you’re brilliant at what you do and you have an incredibly skilled workforce, there is always a risk that things that may not go quite to plan. If you’re doing a job for a client, and one of your employees makes a mistake, this could break you. To prevent this from happening, it pays to have insurance. You don’t just need insurance to protect your business premises and the equipment you own. You also need to have a backup plan in place if errors are made. If you have a policy, this will cover the cost of legal fees or compensation if a client does make a claim against you.

Hiring And Firing

To be the best, you often need a team of star players around you. It’s very rare to be able to propel a company to the big time without relying on others to help you get there. When it comes to hiring, make sure you have an effective recruitment strategy in place. Work out what skills you need and what type of candidates you want to attract. Think about the best places to advertise vacancies, and provide information about the role, the company, and the kinds of tasks the successful applicant will be carrying out on a daily basis. If you don’t want to consider people who haven’t got specific skills or qualifications, make sure you stress that these are essential in the advertisement.

Interviews can often be enlightening, so make use of the time you have with each candidate. Get to know them, find out more about who they are and what they can offer. Consider the kind of candidate they are on paper, but use your gut and intuition as well. Sometimes, personality is more important than an extra year of experience.

No employer wants to think about firing employees, especially in the early stages, but there may come a time when you have no choice but to let somebody go. If you are thinking about redundancy or somebody has crossed the line, make sure you do things in the right way. You may benefit from checking with a legal adviser before you take any further steps. Sometimes, it may be necessary to alter your staffing structure in line with demand. If you’ve got work coming in, you may be considering hiring more people If it’s a short-term project, think about the financial impact of adding to your payroll on a permanent basis. Instead of advertising for a new role, it may be worth your while looking for freelancers or hiring somebody on a temporary basis.

Marketing Your Business

If you’ve got a viable business model and you think there’s a good chance that you’re going to make your venture a success, the next step is to make people aware of what you’re selling. When you’ve got a watertight business plan, you’ve got the product ready and waiting, and your finances are in order, you need to spread the word and start marketing your business and getting those orders flooding in. Your market research should have given you some useful information about the kinds of methods that would be most effective for your brand, so make sure you use feedback from your target market.

Consider the demographic and the type of business you’re launching when you’re drawing up plans for your marketing strategy. Social media and SEO are very effective strategies for modern businesses but don’t just assume that they’ll make your business fly. If you’re targeting older people, for example, or you’re focusing on the local market, you may find other, more traditional techniques will work better. If you’re not an expert in marketing and you don’t have a marketing team on-site, consider working with an external agency. They can help you decide which methods will suit your business best, and they can use the latest analytic tools to streamline your approach and see which techniques are proving most successful for you and your rivals.

If you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into a new business venture, you may feel like you simply cannot afford to even consider the option that it won’t be a success. Sadly, most startups fail, but that doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to the scrap heap. There’s no reason why you can’t be in the minority if you prepare properly, you have an original idea, and you understand your market. Plan ahead, take advantage of expert advice and try and prevent problems, rather than attempting to cure them. Aim to hire the best people for the job and keep your team happy, and make use of market research. If you know your customer well, and you have effective marketing and selling strategies in place, you could go far.

With over 9 years of search marketing experience, Sandra is cross skilled between PPC and SEO. Her experience in search spans across different verticals including Technology, Retail, Travel & Automotive.