In my experience studying and advising early-stage startups, it has become obvious that they primarily fail because of inadvertent mistakes made by the founder or founders. External forces are seldom the reason for the death of the startup. Success therefore primarily depends on the success of the founder.
How can you, as a founder, prevent slowly killing your startup? Get naked. Figuratively, of course.
Do not assume anything. Anything you accept as truth must be backed by proof. Analytics should back all major decisions.
Do not be biased. Biases are built into our psyche, so they are especially difficult to strip. Have an inner circle of friends, peers, advisers and mentors who can help you identify and remove biases.
Forget your failures. Learning from failure is overrated. It is often better not to analyze major failures, move on, and let the lessons incubate naturally.
Stripping assumptions, biases and failures may seem obvious, but it is counter to most founders’ nature. Founders are superheroes; they are out to save the world. How can you be a superhero without the costume? The founder must consciously strip layers off of the costume. Otherwise, the startup will suffer a slow death.
But do not fret, you do not always have to be naked. After some experience, both success and failure, you can start putting layers of your costume back on (a developed assumption that is based on experience may prove true in most cases). With time, you will become the superhero you were always meant to be.
A version of this post originally appeared on Medium.
Naveed Lalani is a product and business strategist advising early to mid-stage startups. Previously, Naveed was Chief Strategy Officer at DonorNation.org, and Co-Founder at Rally.org. Naveed gives back by advising the Thiel Fellowship and leading entrepreneurship initiatives at the Ismaili Professionals Network.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.