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What makes startups tick? Check out some surprising research on smart starts.
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This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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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.

Edition: May 2017

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