Startups usually don’t survive. But there’s a chance.

I talked to a software startup founder in London yesterday who was in a bit of a mess.

His MVP software was late, they are running out of money, not sure about customer demand, and have big co-founder disagreements.

Sorry to say, it’s the usual stuff when you are just starting.

Somewhere in the last 20 years, startups became popular and “normal.”

They now seem almost easy and obvious, but they aren’t. They never were.

Starting a new thing that will change something big in the world is still abnormal, messy, and risky.

That’s why smart people at big companies can’t do it.

“A few cofounders with a big vision” is how we hear how the big success stories got started.

But that just creates the myth that it always works.

We only see the 1% of the 1% of serious startups that made it to the big time.

We don’t see the 80% of startups that never make it to the next level.

  • The 80% of big ideas that never make it to a first usable product with a paying customer
  • The 80% of in-revenue startups that never make it to $1M ARR
  • The 80% of $1M software companies that never make it to $10M
  • The 80% of $10M software companies that never make it to $100M
  • The 80% of serious VC-funded companies that never make it to a big exit or IPO

Every early-stage startup investor knows this. (Except some of the recent crop of first-time investors.)

If someone with startup experience isn’t sharing this reality with you, they are selling something.

If you ask experienced angel and early-stage investors who see a lot of startups, they would probably say the 80% number is too low at every stage.

Back to our founder in London.

He’s facing the usual barrage of really hard issues that can kill a startup at any stage. That’s normal.

I encouraged him to acknowledge each of these brutally hard issues and have frank discussions with his co-founders and advisors.

I didn’t have an answer to whether he can overcome these challenges or not.

Most startups don’t overcome all the brutal challenges to get to the next level. And the new challenges at the next level after that. It never stops.

But there’s a chance.

There’s a chance they will keep solving all these new issues and grow a serious software company.

“There’s a chance” is why we are all here.

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