As part of my research into FAST I read an interesting article in Fortune Magazine on the Why Startups Fail According To Their Founders, which was both shocking and surprising, and also confirmed the need for FAST.
The article was shocking because according to the survey 90% of startups fail, but also surprising because many of the key reasons for failure could be avoided with just a little bit of work, and this is where using FAST would have helped.
In FAST I talk about Focus which is the What, and do you have the right What. But when you see that 42% of businesses that failed didn’t have a market need for their product, that 14% ignored their customers, that for 13% of products were mis-timed and 13% just lost focus it would seem that their Focus was an issue.
If we don’t have the right Focus, it doesn’t matter how hard we work or how good a job we do, we’re going to fail.
You would think these were easy problems to fix or avoid. A little bit of market research would help you determine whether or not there is a need for your product and/or if now was the right time for your product. If you don’t focus on your customers, or even worse ignore them, then your pretty much consigning yourself to the scrap heap right from the get go.
In Accountability I talk about the Who, Who is doing the work, do they have the right skills, tools and authority to be successful, and how are you going to hold them accountable. We need to ensure that we have the right people doing the right job.
Yet here again we see that a lack of accountability is a key issue, with nearly a quarter of startups, 23%, failing because they had the wrong team in place.
We need to take as much time over getting the right people as we do over making sure we have the right products,
Transparency is all about ensuring that we have done the due diligence into whats needed to be successful and having visibility into our performance. For entrepreneurs this is about understanding costs, pricing, profitability, cashflow and sound financial tracking, yet this is clearly something lacking when 29% fail because they run out of cash, and 18% fail because of pricing issues.
I can’t imagine anything worse than having a greta idea, a great product but having to give up because we just ran out of money, it would feel like we were snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Every business needs to have a business plan, even if it’s a simple high level plan. We need to be able to explain how we are going to be able to make money, how long before we think we’re going to be able to break even and then we need track against this.
Often this lack of transparency can be because we have made our businesses too complex, we have too many products and services, or too many moving parts. We need to keep things as simple as possible.
Simplicity is key as it allows not only us, but also others, to understand what it is we’re trying to do, so that we can get their advice and input.
It’s good to learn from our mistakes, but I think it’s even better if we can learn from the mistakes of others.
If you want to know more about FAST you can find out more here.