Why do most startups fail because they do not know what is the beginning of wisdom?
The beginning of wisdom is – “I don’t know”
Kapil’s favorite free time activity was reading self-help books. He had read a lot of books that feature the success stories of entrepreneurs. By the time he completed his engineering, he had decided to start his own business. While many of his classmates were getting employed at corporate, he was loyal to his aspiration to be an entrepreneur. He did not know that the self-help books only feature success stories, and conveniently ignore the ones that are a failure.
Kapil was more lured by the lifestyle of a business owner, out of which, freedom and independence were on the top. Little did he know that it comes with a price! What is the price then? Self-discipline, making that dreading sales call, reaching out to new people and prospective customers, etc.
A new startup:
Being a Software engineer he decided to start a Computer training institute. He looked for and finalized an office space, customized it as per his dreams. Invested in cozy furniture and other assets like computers, classrooms, audio-video equipment, etc. He approached nearby universities and hired a handful of graduates promising a nominal salary for various jobs.
He hired a couple of instructors, a receptionist, and then initiated the institute with a bang. He enjoyed sitting in his dedicated cabin as that was his dream come true moment. What he failed to realize is that he had just accomplished one of the easiest and pleasant activities of blowing up the money.
Every day he came to the office and sat in his cabin, in front of his Mac, read some more self-help stuff. Made a few marketing cold calls, had some meetings with his employees, and then happily retired for the day. The so-called busy-ness gave him an illusion of doing something tangible.
How do most startups fail?
In any business, revenue is generated because of the sales of products or services. Sitting inside the office room and assuming oneself to be an entrepreneur is not going to bring in revenue. One of my ex-manager often used to quote “Ideas are cheap and execution is everything.”
Coming back to Kapil’s story, very soon his office cabin became his safe and comfort zone. He hated going out and meeting the right people, he hated making cold calls. Why? Because he hated rejections. Who loves “rejections” after all? We love acceptance and validations. But to arrive at one “Yes” you may have to traverse more than 10 to 15 “Nos”. Gradually once you become better at the art of selling the ‘Yes’ to ‘No’ ratio may increase.
Why do most startups fail?
He created a resume, updated it on a job site, and started looking out for a job. Though he was looking out for a job, he thought being an employee is a fall of grace for an entrepreneur like him. But what to do? Life situation had pushed him to seek a job. He also thought that as he was an entrepreneur he would be grabbed by companies like a hot cake. He never understood why do most startups fail and importantly why did he fail as a startup. When it comes to being in an illusion there is no limit to how deep one can be in. Destiny has its way, Kapil failed to get any interview calls.
The secret of progress:
Before understanding why do most startups fail? For anyone, to progress in life or career, it is paramount, to be honest with one’s own self. When things are not working, seek the guidance of the right people. By right people, I mean those who have been there and done that. You need not waste your remaining time on re-inventing the wheel. However, it’s not easy for everyone to seek help. It takes enormous humility and self-acceptance.
Kapil hated asking for help. He thought, asking help meant admitting defeat. However, life has a way to teach each of us the right lessons. Lots of time passed by without accomplishing anything of significance. Pressure started to build up and at last, he decided to seek some guidance.
He approached a career coach to help him land a job. Career coach created an effective resume, LinkedIn profile, and Job site profile (Learn how to do all of this in my course – The Art and Science of Getting your Dream Job). Kapil started getting many interview calls. However, none of the interviews took off beyond the first call. I have addressed this topic in my article – Is your candidature not taking off beyond the 1st interview.
The career coach suggested relevant reading materials, videos, practice exercises, and coaching sessions to help him succeed in interviews. Kapil ignored all of that saying –
“I am already a voracious reader and have read many self-help books and I know it all”.
Knowledge is certainly power but false knowledge is the biggest barrier for your success. Many a time we think the accumulation of information is knowledge, just like Kapil did.
The beginning of Wisdom is NOT “I know” but “I don’t know”.
It took some more time for Kapil before landing into reality and admitting his ignorance. Later he followed the advice of the Career coach, succeeded in interviews, and landed a Job.
Be teachable / coachable:
Another reason why do most startups fail is because people are not coachable. Being coachable is one of the most important skills one can possess. Accepting one’s failure, having the humility to learn from one’s own mistake and also another’s a mistake, ability to take advice from people who have been there and done that – are few out of many important qualities of a successful person.
The purpose of this article, why do most startups fail? is not to discourage one from being an entrepreneur, nor encouraging one to be an employee. Being an entrepreneur or an employee is a personal choice. Whatever you want to be, stay humble, and learn your lessons quickly enough, so that you can start adding value to your chosen field. The false knowledge and ego is a deadly combination that can ruin your life.
Hope this story helps you introspect and identify the Kapil within you. Use the comment section to share your comments or questions.