Why 89% of Startups Fail, and What Can You Do About It

Your Startup is Going to Fail. Here’s How to Fix it.


Talk to most startup founders and entrepreneurs, and they’ll tell you they’re building the Next Big Thing.


They’re going to change the world! They have the solution that everyone wants and just doesn’t know it yet! It’s going to be a massive success!


Um……   Really?


Here’s a truth bomb for you: in reality, over 20% of new businesses fail within the first year alone.

60% in the first 3 years and if you make it past that milestone, you only have a 9% chance of making it past the 10-year mark according to the UK office of national statistics for SME in the UK


Now, that’s not to say it can’t work. I know for a fact that it can.


I’ve worked closely with over 100’s of startup and micro-business owners over the years, and I’ve seen both success and failure.


Because of the experiences I’ve had of working with these founders, as well as more established entrepreneurs, it gets clearer to me every day that actually, yes – you can make your business a success.


You can build the kind of business that does highly meaningful work, and really enjoy the process, and make money doing it.


You can solve huge problems and make other people’s lives better.


You can turn your ideas into reality!


Your success (or failure) is entirely in your own hands. So why do businesses fail, then? Surely no one chooses failure.


Well, most companies fail because they make mistakes they could have prevented.


The good news is that once you’re aware of these sneaky mistakes, you can pursue success by avoiding them.


Navigating these mistakes allows you to work on things that create real value.


If you want to build a successful startup, here are the biggest mistakes you might be making and their solutions…



Mistake 1: Not knowing your numbers or the rules of engagement in business

“Business is a game, played for fantastic stakes, and you’re in competition with experts. If you want to win, you have to learn to be a master of the game.”

                                                     ― Sidney Sheldon,

Starting out on the entrepreneurial path is a financial risk, and I don’t just mean potentially leaving paid employment.


You often have extensive setup costs, and cash flow – the speed that money is coming in versus how quickly it’s going out – is exceptionally tricky to get right, especially for those who don’t have a solid understanding of finance.


Even with the best planning, you may experience regular curve balls if, say, you have late-paying customers. This can not only affect the spending you had planned but even throw the future of your business into doubt.


There is no easy way to say this, you need to be a business owner first and foremost and whatever service or product is secondary, once you get over this you are on your way to understanding the rules of engagement of owning a business.



Mistake 2: You’re solely focused on surviving by building your business – and you’re not focused on your customers’ needs.

“There’s no luck in business. There’s only drive, determination, and more drive.”
                                                 ― Sophie Kinsella,

Your one and only goal with your business should be to solve a meaningful problem for other people. This may be a slight contradiction to the above point, but is most importantly, do your homework, know your target market, be as niche as possible, it helps with your marketing success.


This is crucial. 48% of startups fail because they didn’t solve a market need.


They didn’t do the groundwork to genuinely understand their customers’ needs, wants and desires. How can you, as a business, meet a need that you don’t know about or understand?


That 48% failed because they didn’t put others first.


So how does it happen? Well, it looks a bit like this:


    1. Founder gets an idea
    2. Founder builds a solution
    3. They try to sell it
    4. Nobody buys the solution (because it doesn’t meet their needs)
    5. The founder runs out of money
    6. The startup dies


There are no facts inside the building!


What does it mean, there are no facts inside the building? Simply put – the answers you’re looking for aren’t in your noggin. You need to get out of your own head, your own bubble – and actually talk to your users as much as you can, to get to the heart of their problem.


No business was built on nice-to-have features. The most important thing is to make your customer more successful by solving their biggest struggles, challenges, and frustrations.


Something nice-to-have won’t lead to a big business!


Another piece of advice? No plan survives its first contact with the market – so don’t spend months drawing them up!


Take five minutes to put your ideas on a business model canvas and go test them. The only way you’ll be able to grow your startup is by combining smart, agile business building with user research. By embracing feedback, you open yourself up to huge learnings and positive traction.


Want to build a successful startup?


You have to know what makes your solution valuable to others.



Mistake 3: No focus, no direction

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

– Zig Ziglar


Right. Here’s a list I like to call the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Why? Because they kill your business.


Are you ready? Here we go.


You need to stop:


  • Networking 
    • Seriously… Who are you networking with, and for what? Is your target market at that nice virtual networking session?  Probably not… You need to have a very clear idea of who you are looking for and why or you are just wasting your time…


  • Recruiting a board of advisors.
    • No! You don’t need a time-wasting board of people to tell you what to do. Get your solution ready, test it with customer feedback, and if you really need some accountability, then get yourself a real business coach, someone with real experience and credibility. Once you are established and making your millions then and only then look for your board.


  • Doing partnerships without proof of extra revenue.
    • What a great way to waste your time and money! Do you even know what you’re getting out of It?!


  • Spending time on PR and social media.
    • You get no points If you do this before knowing if you’ve got the right product for the right customer. What you’re doing instead is burning time and money on an activity that’s not going to have good ROI.


These four things will take the potential of your startup behind the shed and kill it.


Your business success relies heavily on you knowing what your customers really (really) want and then helping them find you with good branding and accessibility.


Basically, the only two things your startup needs to focus on right now:

  • End users (your customers)
  • Your product (the solution)


The only way to stay on track as a startup is to develop the product and talk to users. You just don’t have time to get caught up in other things.


Want to build a successful startup?


Stop spending all your time doing stuff that doesn’t create real value for you or your business. Get out there, talk to your customer, and create the product or solution they really want!



Mistake 3: Being a One-Person Team

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

                                        – African Proverb


There are three factors that combine to get a startup off the ground.

  1. Hiring good people
  2. Offering something customers actually want
  3. Spending as little money as possible…but if you need to, spend it on marketing when you have something to say!


My advice to each startup owner, entrepreneur or founder is this: find at least one person that comes from a different discipline and get them to join you.


Bring someone on board that can hold you accountable for your actions, goals, and plans. If you work with good people from the start, making something your customers actually want becomes so much easier.


Here at The Power Within, I have an incredible business partner. She also happens also to be my wife!


That extra bit of accountability from my business partner helps me focus more than anything. Because of that accountability, I live and breathe setting, planning for, pursuing, and achieving my goals every day.


My advice? Don’t be a one-person team.


Find someone to hold you accountable, or get yourself a good coach, but always make sure you do your homework.


    1. Do they have credibility?
      1. What’s their experience? Is it relevant?
    2. What can they bring to the table?
      1. What have they achieved?
    3. Check they can do what they say they can do!
      1. Ask for recommendations, testimonials, or referrals from someone who has achieved results whilst working with them


89% of startups will fail. The entrepreneurs behind them will continue fighting huge wars for average results.


That doesn’t have to be you.


Follow these three tips, and you’ll be on the road to that 11% of startups who really do get results.


Let us know – what’s your takeaway from today?



James Fleming

The Power Within Training & Development



0330 133 2975

Goal Setting Like a Champion – Everything You Need to Know – Part 2

Goal Setting Like a Champion – Everything You Need to Know – Part 2


“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar


In the first part of our series, we covered the importance of smart, specific goal setting. But let’s look at some of the other things that can help – and hinder – our goal setting.


Give Up Giving Up, be more resilient!


Over time, we give up, we need to be persistent, its the compound effect that matters most 


We cave and call it quits too soon, 


We fail to achieve our goals! And it’s not for lack of wanting or trying, but lack of not wanting or trying hard enough.


Let’s say that louder for the people in the back.


You’re not achieving your goals for lack of wanting or trying.


You’re not achieving your goals because you’re not wanting or trying hard enough.


If you want a goal as much as you want to breathe – you’ll make it happen.


Opportunities Created, not Found


When you focus on a specific goal, your plan of action helps you to consciously take the next right step.


But something else Is happening, too. Whenever you set a specific goal, you’re actually training your subconscious mind to tune in and focus hard on what you want. When your subconscious is this focused, you’ll be able to create your own opportunities.


Since so much of our daily behaviour is habit-driven, it makes sense that in order to achieve your goal, you have to really, really want it.


And if you don’t want it that much? Well, it makes sense that you’ll go back to your old ways.


For example, if you want to lose weight, you might give it all you think you’ve got… for a few weeks.


But sooner or later, you’re going to hit that brick wall. Those extra pounds won’t shift as fast as you want them to. You get frustrated and disappointed when things don’t happen right away.


You lose sight of what you want and why you wanted it. Your need, your goal, you desire? It all gets lost in the daily grind.


So how can you push through the frustration and discomfort to reach your goals when they seem so far away?


Keeping Focus


One of the reasons why we fail to achieve our goals is an overall loss of focus.


We get it. It’s hard to stay laser-focused for a prolonged period of time!


Even for people that are highly driven, losing focus is common.


There are all sorts of interruptions in life that cause a loss of focus. Clearly, problems can and do arise often – but those issues are a constant. There will always be something to derail you – that’s life!


So, what are some of the ways we can keep our focus?


Having a Defined Plan of Action


Every goal you set should have a detailed action plan. And when we say detailed, we mean detailed.


Write down your big, juicy, audacious goals – yes, the ones that scare you silly! Then break them down by:

  • Year
  • Quarter
  • Month
  • Week
  • And by day (we call these your “Daily High Payoff Activities”)


You should have a list of actions you must take every day, to ensure you stay on track with achieving your goal.


Ensure Your Reason is a Good One


Most people fail because they either start without preparing properly – or they start for all the wrong reasons!


That’s a great way to set yourself up for failure before you even start.


Here’s a question for you. How did your goals, plans, and resolutions pan out so far this year?


When we talk about why you failed to reach a goal, we mean that you didn’t have strong enough reasons for wanting your goals, or that you didn’t know how to correctly set them.


You can’t just say you want to succeed because you want lots of money or lots of stuff.


It’s nice to have a shiny car or a bigger house, but those are superficial reasons. You need a reason that goes deeper than that.


Whenever you have a reason that’s as important as the air you breathe, you’ll do what it takes to achieve your goals. And let’s face it – a new conservatory probably isn’t going to cut it!


What is it you want? Why do you want it? Do you really know?


Here’s a trick to get you on track. Ask yourself the “five whys”.


Start with the question: “why do I want this?”. Now, keep asking yourself why. Come up with five different reasons – each one getting a little closer to the truth.


By your fifth “why?” you’ll be much closer to the real reason you want it.


Now you have you’re why, isn’t it easier to figure out the appropriate actions you need to take to achieve your goal?


Create New Habits

Creating a new set of habits takes time – but there’s no better way to go after a goal than by making it a habit.


Behavioural scientists say that we can create new habits by doing something over and over again, consecutively for a period of up to 66 days.


Two months – that’s it. You could make success second nature in just two months! Isn’t that worth a bit of discipline in the short term?


As we said in part 1, success doesn’t happen overnight. If you keep pushing, keep your focus sharp, learn to define and pursue your goals correctly, you will see results.


Have you ever heard it said that “You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way?”


Well – now you know. So, get out of your own way! Using the steps outlined in this series, you’ll be on your way to success in no time.


We hope this helps. And we’d love to hear about your goals. Let us know – what do you want to achieve in 2021?



James Fleming

The Power Within Training & Development



0330 133 2975

Goal Setting Like a Champion: Everything You Need to Know – Part 1

Goal Setting Like a Champion – Everything You Need to Know – Part 1


“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.”

Colin R. Davis

Successor Failure?

Here’s a question for you: which road did you decide to take?


And here’s another!


How often, as a business owner, do you find yourself thinking: “where did I go wrong?”

As we approach the end of the year, many people only now begin reflecting on how the last 12 months have played out. What did 2020 hold for you? For your business? For your career?


Now, granted, it’s been an unusual year!


But if you are anything like 93% of business owners and career professionals in the UK, you won’t have achieved your goals.


You’ll be sitting there wondering what went wrong. Mulling over how you lost your focus. Thinking about how you can shake things up in 2021.

And let’s be brutally honest…you probably said the exact same thing last year, didn’t you?


And yet here you are, right back where you started. No further forward, no better off.


So why does this happen? What’s the underlying issue?


Happily, I can tell you it’s one of two things.


You didn’t set any goals for the year.


You failed to correctly set, define, and pursue your goals with consistency and focus.


Hard Truths


Now you may be reading this thinking “I tried my best! It wasn’t my fault! Everything conspired against me!”


Aye, right.

Think about it. Really think about it.

Did you actually try your best, or were you just caught up, doing stuff?

Reacting? Being busy without knowing where you were headed? Careering off without a defined destination?


Suppose you’re feeling uncomfortable – good! It means you’re ready, to be honest with yourself.


You got stuck in your own action vortex.


What’s an action vortex?


Think about it this way. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and getting the same results.


If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.

It’s Called a Rut


Now, look – I know you’re trying your best. We all are, in our own way.


But without anything to focus our actions on, it’s like trying to shoot a target in the dark with a blindfold on.


Keep shooting, and eventually, you might hit something…or you could just turn on the bloody light!


If you want to succeed, you need to set goals.


Without goals, you will lack focus and direction. It doesn’t work any other way.


Goal setting not only allows you to take control of the direction you’re heading in; it also provides you with a benchmark that helps you measure your success. And if you can measure it? You can manage it.


The power really is within you.

Question Time:

Why are success and failure so similar?


They both take motivation, effort, thought and action. The difference is that the quality of the actions you take is what determines the results you get.


But let’s also be real. It’s hard to achieve our goals!


More often than not, we fail to follow through.


Either we lose focus, change our minds, or give up. For one reason or another, things get in the way, and our mentality shifts, life happens, and we just stop trying.


You know the feeling, don’t you?


We’ve all failed to achieve one goal or another at some point in our lives.


I’ve definitely been there – more times than I’d like to admit!


But the most interesting thing isn’t really whether or not we’ve “failed” – it’s the why behind the failure.


Then why is everything? And the why applies even after (maybe especially when!) we achieve our goals.


When most people reach a goal, they stop trying. That’s it! They’re done. They’ve achieved their goal.


Sounds like a recipe for complacency to me.


So why do we throw in that proverbial towel – whether it was before meeting a goal, or after?


Did we fail because we didn’t consider our tipping points? Did we fail to put a plan in place to counteract something we knew would be a challenge? Did we decide not to set a stretch goal? Why?


The answer lies in the asking. This is why “why?” is such a potent question.


A New Tool for Your Kit


The one thing that will keep you committed when it comes to defining and setting your goals is solid, honest preparation.


You have to prepare for the buts, the what-ifs, the whys behind your previous failures. And you prepare by building them into clearly defined action plans.

All too often, we rely on pure motivation and excitement to see us through.


In the beginning, we’re excited about the changes we want to make, and the thrill of doing something new!


But over time, that focus and determination wane (usually right around the moment you realise that actually, achieving goals is damned hard work – and that this work requires discipline, guts, and determination to face down the difficulties that lie between you and your biggest dreams).

So how do you find the success you’re dreaming of?


Specificity is the Key


All success and failure starts with your mindset.


Does success happen by chance, luck, or coincidence?


Success never has, and never will be created by chance, luck, or coincidence.

All success happens because of specifics. Namely – specific actions that you take to get a specific set of results.


Setting clearly defined, specific goals helps you create both motivation and discipline needed to pursue your goals.


And specifics are woven into every aspect of goal setting! You can’t simply say “I want this” and expect it to happen. That’s daft!


Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve.


The middle of this process is made up of very well-defined steps (think of these detailed, defined plans as smaller goals) that help you achieve your bigger goal.


Knowing how to leverage these steps helps you to formulate goals that you can accomplish in small, incremental steps. These little stretch goals give you a boost every time you achieve them – which is a powerful motivator.


Join us in part 2 of this series, as we dig deeper into goals, your mindset, and making your own success…



James Fleming

The Power Within Training & Development



0330 133 2975