Founders Stories: Why Some Startups Never Take off


I took some weeks off writing but I am back. I will be focusing on the startup community sharing my experience and that of others. I may not have built many successful brands but I have some in the kitty. So, I have got some experiences to share. If you want to follow my story, click here. So, what’s happening this week? I am starting a “Founders Stories” series today and will be sharing true life stories of successful entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs-in-the-making via this series.

Why is it that most ideas remain forever in the mind? In my short life, I have seen many people with great ideas. Yes, beautiful ideas but fast-forward to several years ahead, the ideas are still in the idea form. Many even started but soon gave up. So, why do most people never pursue their business ideas? Fear of failure. Most people fret at the possibility of experiencing failure. They just can’t stand it and this is why they continue to sit on their ideas. The good news is that many people have gone ahead in this journey.

Thomas Edison tried thousands of different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.” Edison replied very confidently,

“Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We know that there are thousands of elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.“

Wait… you do not have to make all the mistakes yourself. You can learn from the mistakes of others. That is why you are not the first person going that route. Some people have gone that route before you. Whatever you want to do in life, you will surely find someone who has done it before or someone who has done something related to what you set out to do. Irrespective of how new the line of business is, you will definitely find someone who you can learn from. Your responsibility is to study their story to see how you can avoid their pitfalls and then apply your lessons to your situation.

Some years back, I started an IT company with 3 other guys. Each of us had different skill sets which we aimed to harness. We were bringing different values to the company. Everything looked too good to fail. We set out to offer quality and affordable services. And yes, we believed in ourselves. The start-up phase was great. We completed our company registration with the Corporate Affair Commission and got an office space which was renovated. Each new day brought us enough reasons to believe that the company was meant to be successful.

Within weeks, we got some contracts to setup local area networks and offer internet services in some companies both within and outside Lagos. On a particular occasion, we got a contract to supply 50 computer systems to a company. This was at the time that internet cafe business was just picking up in Nigeria. It was a dream come through. Things were working as planned. The god of business was really smiling down on us. How else could we explain the successes we were experiencing at the time? Suddenly, we lost it. Within just one year of existence, the company collapsed. It was as if I was dreaming but it was so evident that something was missing. Something was wrong with the company structure we had put in place.

Our technical skill sets failed us. We did virtually everything wrong. Then, it hit me that you need more than technical skills to run a successful business. You need a combination of so many skills. I learnt my lessons and I do believe the other 3 learnt from the experience. The whole experience was a very painful way to learn but I am glad I took that step at that phase of my life. Could I have been better off if I had not gone into business at that time? Probably not. Some of the lessons learnt are still very useful today.

You miss a lot of opportunities by not acting.

The steps you did not take today because you are afraid of mistakes may be gone forever. I am glad to let you know that you are not shut out forever, and that there is a goal you still can reach. Start today…Dare your fear and take those steps. Your products don’t have to be perfect before you launch it. Test the water.  Success is around the corner. If you need some help launching your business, drop me a line. I may be able to connect you to some people who will be of help. Just do it. Launch!

Image credits: Miller Info Commons