1. Little to no market for the product. You could be ahead of the market, you could be priced wrong, or you could just really not be in demand. Find the truth using your mentors, an open mind and data.
  2. It costs more to acquire a customer than that customer brings you in profit. Use your mad math skills to avoid this one.
  3. Poor management. Poor leaders take a weak product to market, poor leaders don’t do the math, poor leaders hire poor people, poor leaders can’t retain good people. Know your strengths and hire to shore up your weaknesses.
  4. Cash runs out before the company is able to attract more cash. Strategic planning, strict budgeting and project management skills solve this. See #3.
  5. CEOs in a cash-strapped frame of mind don’t have the guts to go when it’s time. Trust yourself, your data and your top advisors when they say you’re good to go!
  6. Legal challenges can come out of nowhere. If your product was heavily “inspired” by somebody else’s product, expect a challenge. You should have spent time at the patent office while still in the planning stages. If you’ve really innovated and built something unique, prove it with lots of documented detail about your thinking, design, iteration and market testing phases. Hire the best lawyer you can afford.
  7. Burnout can stop a great idea dead in its tracks. Avoid this by getting good help early so the load is shared and the group can take on the 24/7 duties of a new startup.
  8. Failed expansion. Money can come before you’re ready. Don’t press go just because you can. Careful planning, testing and consultation will help you avoid fatal expansions.
  9. An idea usually comes at its time, so you’re not likely to be the only one innovating. Be on the lookout for competitors and decide early whether to work together or compete hard. If you decide to compete, fight for every percentage of market share and milestone you can get.
  10. You love your product but working with potential customers is hard. If you avoid testing or consultation, you will likely build a battery-driven pickup truck that is ugly and nobody will buy it. Enough said. Product + Users = Sales.

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Further reading