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Work It

What makes startups tick? Check out some surprising research on smart starts.

It's better to be fast to market than to wait until your offering is perfect. And even technology firms shouldn't make advanced technology their highest priority. Those are among the findings of a four-year study of 350 young companies reported in Startups That Work (Portfolio, $25.95) by Joel Kurtzman, former Harvard Business Review editor, and Glenn Rifkin. They also identify nine key factors in startup success, including market size, competitive position, business model and cash flow.

Some unexpected results: Startups with two or more co-founders did significantly better than lone entrepreneurs, and generally, the bigger the co-founding team, the better. Another interesting finding: After four years, 300 of the group were still going, an 80 percent survival rate. This research-based report is a significant improvement over many reports on small-company success, which tend to rely on more subjective factors.

Nothing But the Truth
Does it cost five times as much to get new customers as to keep old ones? If you believe so, read Loyalty Myths (Wiley, $24.95) by Timothy L. Keiningham, Terry G. Vavra, Lerzan Aksoy and Henri Wallard. These market researchers thoroughly dismantle that and many other customer-loyalty shibboleths, and offer better ideas.

Mark Henricks is Entrepreneur's "Staff Smarts" columnist.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the October 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Work It.

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