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Management article
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Reference no. R2103D
New product
Published by:
Harvard Business Publishing (2021)
Revision date:
26-Apr-2021
 
in "Harvard Business Review"
Length:
11 pages

Abstract

If you're launching a business, the odds are against you: Two-thirds of start-ups never show a positive return. Unnerved by that statistic, a professor of entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School set out to discover why. Based on interviews and surveys with hundreds of founders and investors and scores of accounts of entrepreneurial setbacks, his findings buck the conventional wisdom that the cause of start-up failure is either the founding team or the business idea. The author found six patterns that doomed ventures. Two were especially common: 'Bad bedfellows'. Other parties besides the founders - like employees, strategic partners, and investors - can all play a major role in a firm's demise. Quincy Apparel, for instance, was undone by weak support from its investors and factory partners and inflexible employees. 'False starts'. Many overlook a crucial step in the lean start-up process: researching customer needs before testing products. Like Triangulate, an online dating start-up, they keep rushing to launch fully functional offerings that don't fit any market needs. The good news is, firms can avoid that pitfall by rigorously defining the problem they want to solve, getting one-on-one feedback from potential customers, and validating concepts with real customers in real-world settings.

Topics

Entrepreneurship; Business failures; Entrepreneurial finance; Product introduction; Founders; Entrepreneurs; Entrepreneurial management; Start-ups

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