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MARK EVANS

When strategic vision isn’t shared, startups may be headed for failure Add to ...

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about why failure isn’t something that entrepreneurs should fear. In many ways, failure is an important part of the entrepreneurial journey that can lead to success.

Over the next couple of weeks, I want to drill down into some of the many reasons why startups fail, which can happen even when they have the right product at the right time.

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Let’s begin with visionary failure.

In many cases, a startup is created by two or more founders who come together to build something that they believe will fill a need in the market. In the beginning, there is a lot of enthusiasm and optimism about what is going to be developed.

Problems, however, can start to appear if people have different ideas about how a startup should proceed. Should the focus be on developing the service? Should there be more emphasis on marketing to raise awareness, or on sales to drive revenue?

When different strategic paths are seen as more important, it is easy and quick for cracks to appear within a team that seemed to be on the same road.

The reality is that visionary failure can happen overnight because founders may have different skills, ideas and experience about what should happen. It doesn’t mean one person is right and another is wrong; it means they are simply not on the same page.

In an ideal world, startup entrepreneurs put their views on the table for everyone to discuss. At some point, the group, or perhaps the chief executive officer, has to make a decision about what to do and how to do it. At this point, everyone has to buy into the decision for the team to move forward in a cohesive and united way.

But what happens if someone believes the wrong decisions are being made? From personal experience, this can be a stressful and troubling environment, particularly if there doesn’t seem to be any way of changing things.

In this case, there are two options: You bite your tongue, accept the situation, and move forward in the hope that things will work out, or you determine whether it makes more sense to move on to another startup or different opportunity.

In my personal experience, stepping away from a startup because of differences in vision was a good decision, but one that should have probably happened months earlier.

At startups and small businesses, teams don’t operate well if they are not moving in the same direction or don’t share the belief that the path being followed makes sense. The last thing they need is dissension, second-guessing and skepticism.

At the end of the day, everyone should have the same strategic vision. If not, there is a strong possibility of failure.

Next: Hiring failure

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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