building a startup that won't fail

According to this report, 90% of all startups crash after the first five years. Horrible, right? I know the feeling. Imagine having to lose your business in less than five years despite all you invested in it. I’m sure you would be willing to do all you can to ensure that you build a formidable startup that won’t crash.

The best option you have is learning from other people’s experience.

While experience is a good teacher, the best teacher has always been other people’s experience. There are so many examples to justify this claim. You spend four – 7 years or more in college to get a degree, but if you cumulate the years of study it took to develop the content and curriculum, it definitely will run up to decades, or even centuries.

You also do not have to get hit by a train to know that a train do not stop for you to cross the road – you must have been told, or worst still you must have witnessed it.

It is wisdom to learn from those whose past is your future. Many have tread the path you just stepped foot on, and it will save you years of having to learn stuff through experience, just by contacting those people.

I’m going to be sharing with you 10 lessons from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and I hope you get one or two… or ten things from these people.

Steve Jobs

building a startup that won't fail, steve jobs


  1. Value and Price are two Different Things

As a startup, your focus should not be on making more money, but on delivering more value. Now, this is not saying you should not make money, it is saying you should focus on what attracts money. Focus on serving your customers what will give them value for their money.

As a matter of fact, people will pay more to get more value. Apple products are always in demand because of the value they bring to the table – their design and functionality.

2. People Tell You what They Want, Not What They Need

Smart entrepreneurs have one thing in common; they discover what people need even before they realize that they need them. How do they do this? They look inward most times. Truth is, what you need, is what many other people needs (especially those around you).

For example, in the 1980s, Apple’s customers wanted a better, faster and cheaper Apple II, but no one wanted a Macintosh. Apple Inc. went on to create that, and today it is a huge success.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new,” Steve said in 1989.

Aliko Dangote

building a startup that won't fail, Dangote


3. Start Small, Dream Big

I’ll just share these words by the Richest man in Africa, and the Richest black person in the world – Aliko Dangote and leave it there:

“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”

Aliko runs one of the largest conglomerates in the world – The Dangote Group.

4. Build a Brand

Aliko Dangote says that to succeed in business, “you must build a brand and never destroy it. One competitive advantage I had when I ventured into manufacturing was my brand ‘Dangote’ which I diligently built in the course of my trading commodities”.

As a startup, you have to create what you want people to know you for; such that when they hear your name (or name of your company), they automatically link it with what you have always been DOING. Build a reputable brand.

Warren Buffet

5. Understand Your Business

This one is a no brainer. You’ll never succeed in an endeavor you do not study. It’s just like walking into a forest you are not familiar with – you’ll definitely miss your way.

Two quotes by Warren Buffet come to my mind when I make this point: “Never invest in a business you can’t understand.” And “If you understood a business perfectly and the future of the business, you need very little in the way of a margin of safety.”

building a startup that won't fail, Warren Buffet


6. Surround Yourself With Positive and Inspiring People

“It is better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you will drift in that direction.” – Warren Buffett

Someone said something to me one day, he said, “If you move with 5 wise men long enough, you will be the sixth, and if you move with 5 foolish men long enough, you’ll be the sixth”. You have to surround yourself with people with the same sense of people like you. Of course this includes the kind of general and business books that you should read. This goes further to how you employ staff, and choose partners also.

Bill Gates

7. Be Ready to Take Risks

This really is not different from living. Going out each day involves taking risks, and for the entrepreneur you must recognize that you will have to take risks at every step of the way in your business. Bill Gates said: “Business is a money game with few rules and a lot of risks”.

bill gates


8. Do not let Failure Bring you Down

Failure is like the tuition fee for success. No successful businessperson have ever come out to say that they never failed or made wrong choices in business. But you know what keeps them going, they grab the lesson from failure and let go. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you LEARN” was the title of a book by John Maxwell.

Two more lessons. These two are general tips, so let’s finish this!

9. Believe there is Money to be Made

It is called the abundance mentality. There is enough money everywhere for everyone. Follow the tips above and you will get your market share.

10. Persevere

Resistance is an integral force of life, without it, most things will not work. You have got to always prepare in your heart and your head to fight every obstacle until you reach your goal.

Failures may come, disappointment may follow, and loss may be just behind them; you should not allow them deter you, your goal should keep moving you to keep on keeping on.

Armed with these, you are good to go!