The Startup Therapy Couch: Reason 1 of 7 your startup is failing - "Hocus Pocus, Lack of Focus"

Harvard did a study that showed almost 75% of all venture-backed companies ultimately failed*. Statistic Brain did a study that showed 50% failed within 5 years, and almost 70% failed within 10 years. Those are some quite staggering statistics, so how do you avoid being a statistic? What were the findings of these studies that can help you watch out for the most common pitfalls and potholes?

Reason #1: Lack of focus
Trying to do too much will absolutely kill your startup. There's a reason that "minimum" is the first word in the acronym MVP, "minimum viable product". Doing too much (read: trying to be everything to everyone) will have dramatically negative side-effects, including never getting to market at all or spending more on ineffective advertising that is too vague or trying to reach too many disparate audiences.

You must figure out what your core competency is, that one thing your target audience can't live without, that provides value day one for user one, and STICK TO IT. Figure out the best solution for 85% of the users with the problem you're trying to solve, and go with that. And ONLY that. You can never make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time, so don't try. You'll only fail faster and end up solving the problem for no one.

How do you keep your focus? Early research and development of your idea to identify the real problem you're solving, understanding that problem fully, and then doing customer and market validation to understand whether your solution resonates with the target audience.

This can be a difficult step to take because in the moment of "Aha! I have an idea!" your initial desire will be to hurry up and build the thing... That will be, in all likelihood, to your detriment.

Get focused, stay focused, laser focus... And you'll be ahead of a lot of those statistical failures.

* FastCompany article discussing more about the Harvard Study