The critical mistake that’s killing nearly 60% of startups

growth growth journey learning & development Dec 17, 2022

I’m going to get right to the point in this blog post. I’m digging into an important topic this week — if you checked out this episode of Hardwired for Growth, this topic is going to sound very familiar to you. But it bears repeating (and multiple formats), because this is such a widespread problem that is SO fixable or preventable. It may very well be the difference between success and failure for your startup.

What’s the critical mistake to which I’m referring?

Not checking their business data

Research shows that 56% of startups rarely or infrequently check their data. Another 3% have NEVER looked at it. 

It’s mind blowing, isn’t it? 

And yet, it’s…not. 

What’s preventing startup founders from checking data?

The most important question we can ask when looking at that startling statistic is this >> Why? Why are so many startup founders skipping or barely reviewing data? In my experience working one-on-one with startups, I can confidently state that these are some of the most common reasons:

They’re really busy

I mean this one is a given, right? And yet, it’s really so important (and true). The fact is that many startup founders are simply drowning in too many other important decisions and tasks. They don’t have the time to review data and to use that data to help their businesses grow. 

They aren’t comfortable with it

This is fair and completely understandable. There is a LOT of data out there, particularly for startups. How can you really make sense of it? The stress of trying to sort through and figure out not only what’s important, but what needs your attention, can be overwhelming.  If your business is doing okay and you haven’t bothered with data yet, why start now? 

They’re afraid of making a mistake

Sometimes you can be too careful. If the data suggests one thing but your advisors, customers or even your gut are telling you another, you may prefer to simply ignore the data and go with your other resources. 

Why data should be a focal point for startup founders

When I am coaching startup founders with an aversion to data, I like to use the doctor analogy. You wouldn’t want your doctor to make a diagnosis or offer treatment without data to back up his or her decision, right? 

So why would you run your business without data? 

Here are two big reasons why data deserves your attention:

1. It can help you accelerate growth. 

Using data to make informed decisions is like pouring accelerant on a fire — it speeds things up tremendously! 

I have met many startup founders and business leaders who prefer to go with their gut, nearly all the time. I get it. If your gut hasn’t steered you wrong yet, it can be tempting to run with it for the length of your career.

But I think we all know that it can be dangerous to take this approach. I mean my gut tells me to down an entire pint of ice cream right before bed. And I’m fairly certain that’s not a good idea.

Okay, that might be a bit extreme, but I think you’re with me on this, right? Our instincts can be VERY sound, of course. Using your gut can cause needless delays while you repeatedly test out hunches and instincts. Making informed decisions eliminates those delays, speeding up growth considerably. 

2. You’ll reduce costs.

As a follow up to the previous point, speeding things up — especially growth — means reduced costs. It’s very straightforward and doesn’t require much explanation. But it’s obviously incredibly important. Reduced timeline = reduced costs (and more quickly. Increased revenue).

3. You’ll also reduce your growth learning curve.

These three points really lead into each other. Faster growth. Lower costs. Together with those comes a faster learning curve. Because when you’re constantly reviewing data, you’re more easily and quickly learning what’s working and what doesn’t. It’s empowering for startup leaders to have such critical data at their fingertips. And when you can make faster, better decisions with that data, you become a more experienced, intelligent leader. 

Want to dig further into data?

As I mentioned earlier, I go further into this topic in a solo episode of Hardwired for Growth. Check it out here and be sure to subscribe for more interviews and insights for startups. And if you’re looking for more guidance and strategic coaching to help you take your startup to the next level, shoot me a message. I’d love to learn more about your business.