How to Ensure Success at a Time When 90% Startups Fail

Success mantra: "I will give more than what I get – to my family, to my organization, to my customer and to my society."

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By Shiv Khera • Nov 24, 2018


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The grass on the other side always looks greener. It has two dimensions – it may be genuinely greener or it may be an illusion. Most of the time it is an illusion. Entrepreneurship is very similar to the greener grass. No wonder, 90 percent of startups fail and only 10 percent succeed. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur — and everyone wants to be the founder of a startup that can hopefully be acquired or go IPO and rake in tons and tons of money. Those who think entrepreneurship is a get-rich-quick scheme are heading for a disaster. Entrepreneurship should be looked at in a far-sighted manner with a long term vision. Some companies have valuations in millions without any tangible assets to their names. A number of key ingredients are required to ensure success, no matter what the business or industry. The key ingredients are:


What does that mean? In the business community it means – fire in the belly. It means the ability to bounce back when you fall down. It means persistence, not giving up, doing things the right way without compromising your values and ethics. It means persevering. Start today in whatever way and do not give up.


When you start small, mistakes are bound to happen but your mistakes will be small and you can recover from them. Start big and your mistakes are likely to be big and such that you may even be wiped out. So start small. Learn from your mistakes and evaluate what went wrong and what you could do differently going into the future. Now, with your new learning you can scale up. And it's a lot easier to do when you have a pilot that has worked. Start small, think big and then scale up.


Value addition can be done by identifying a need and filling it, which can be tangible or intangible. Providing value addition does not mean that you need to be a scientist and add something new. It can be a modification to any current products. In fact, if you look at some of the great companies today they have taken existing products or services and improvised on them e.g. Apple is known for innovation, which is their value addition. If you are contributing to another person's existence, then they will depend on you for the most basic service or product. Fill someone's need. Any need. It could be a functional need or an emotional need or a go-to resource for something. Whatever it is, add value, serve a need.


If you go by the life history of successful people, who have achieved success, sustained success and then maintained goodwill you will see that they have all lived by this one principle: "I will give more than what I get – to my family, to my organization, to my customer and to my society." If you live by this one principle you have no completion, you are the competition. If you do this, you will have success and very little competition. Most people barely work enough for what they are paid for, much less "earn' their living. The majority of people are merely getting by. You will outperform your competition if you practice the mantra of always "give more than you get.'


There is a big difference between reputation and character. Reputation is what other people think of us. Character is what we think we are. This will carry more weight than undercutting the competition. Products like Sony and Daikin airconditioners are more expensive than other brands and yet we purchase them. They are synonymous with three words — quality, reliability and dependability and people are willing to pay for these three words.


What is the difference — when a trained mountain climber wants to go to Everest he is taking a risk. Whereas an untrained climber keen on climbing Everest is gambling. What is the best time to decide to take a risk? It is when the following three elements are present: i. The upside is open and lucrative. ii. The downside is limited and will not wipe you out if things go wrong. iii. The odds are in your favour and that is the time you take risks.

Success is not guaranteed for anyone. And failure is not final. Entrepreneurs when they fail are discouraged but they are not disheartened. It is when you give up or repeat your mistakes that's when you have lost the game. Follow the above steps. Tread carefully and prudently. Test the idea in a small way. Make sure you have the cash flow and financial strength to do this so your family and dependents don't suffer. Start with enough savings to give the business the cash flow it requires. If you do the above, you will definitely have set yourself up for success.

(This article was first published in the November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

Shiv Khera

Activist and Author of You Can Win

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