Is it timing, hard work, or luck? It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the stakes are high when building a startup. In fact, the widely spread statistic that 9 out of 10 startups fail has recently been confirmed, at least in the European context, by Stryber, whose research shows that startups in Europe do indeed have an 89% failure rate.
With statistics like this, it’s no wonder that founders long to know the secret behind building a thriving startup. However, perhaps better than asking what the secret is, we should instead ask whether a secret exists in the first place. In other words, is there a one-size-fits-all when it comes to startup success?
In this article, we take a look at hard work, timing, and luck to see what really makes all difference to startup survival.
It goes without saying that hard work is a good base for most things in life – not just building a startup. In the context of startups though, time and time again grit, inherently tied with sheer will, hard work, and determination, has been labeled as one of the key factors in developing a successful venture.
However, for that hard work to lead to success it will most likely need something else: purpose. With a purpose behind the hard work it takes to build a business, it’s much easier to understand who you need to connect with, prioritize needs and create a strong foundation.
Not only does pairing purpose with hard work help bring direction to your business strategy, but apparently it also resonates with customers. Recent studies show that customers are 4 to 6 times more likely to protect and champion purpose-driven brands.
Timing is everything; well, almost everything. It is true that timing can be an important factor in a startup’s success and luckily, finding the perfect timing for milestones like launching a product, for example, is something that can usually be prepared for.
In many cases, good timing is all about research and never losing sight of what the next peak in the market could be – recognizing which ideas are worth exploring and which are past their prime.
Above all, timing is about staying agile and being prepared to take a pivot when necessary. As we know, startups host a fast-paced environment, and whilst it may feel comfortable to stick to what you know, staying open to change and listening to the market’s demands is key to finding that perfect timing.
Hard work and great timing will get you a long way when developing a business, but what about luck? Well, while the “luck factor” may feel out of our hands there are certain steps we can take to improve our chances. Take the power of serendipity. If you want to meet the right business partner or co-founder for example, by proactively putting yourself in the right spaces, the likelihood of a serendipitous match is far more likely.
Despite this, there will always be an element of luck we just can’t control. This is perhaps best exemplified by the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on many startups and indeed larger companies too.
Whilst many startups were able to stay ahead of the curve in terms of the rapid digitalization the pandemic required, there’s no doubt that luck played its part in deciding which made it through the turbulence of 2020.
So what’s the deciding factor?
The truth is it’s most likely a mixture of hard work, timing, and luck that makes a successful startup and many other factors in between: finding the right funding, product-market fit, a strong team.
However, working with a purpose, staying agile and observant, and developing a top-notch risk strategy (and getting familiar with all the potential outcomes) will take you a long way.