Of course there are also those who don't actually know that things are going badly, or at least that disaster is just around the corner. This is particularly the case for those who are doing it the first time because they have not found the pitfalls previously.
The classic cause of failure is cashflow. Few technical people starting out with their big idea for some new technical gadget really have their heads round cashflow and it is very easy to have a big gap between the the last of your savings / borrowings / angel investment and tje first real revenue from your product. It is at times like that a statup will regret the expenditure in the expensive espresso machine and those comfy sofas inreception!
In the UK at least, the crunch comes on 'quarter days' - that is 4 times a year when you have to pay the rent on your offices. As one of the quarter days is 25th December, there can be some pretty gloomy Christmases.
It is easy to be enthusiastic about your product development, the new clever things you have put into it, the energy of the team etc. But it is very easy to lose sight of:
1) will the money last long enough for us to sell product and become sustainable (or get bought up?)
Haha, well - it's interesting you should ask. Things are genuinley very good, but I was going to say that right? :-) If you ask that question I'll default to the good however, as Peter said, of you ask the intersting question "whats your biggest challenge" I would answer "keeping up with demand whilst keeping quality high."
Thanks, Simon. So I take it that you have a growing demand (which is great!) -- but how not to fall into the trap of making more profit by decreasing the quality is your challenge? That's a good problem to have.
@simonbarker Great column. But it's not just startups that have this willful suspension of disbelief. Think about almost any sales forecast, and the reluctance many companies have to forecast down believing that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. At least if you're honest, you can develop a strategy to deal with it, rather than living in lala land.
The company profile projected to me during my hiring interview showed some very good prospects about its capital, the IPs already owned by the company, the impressive prospective customer list and projected turnover and so on. It was all rosy.
I was offered such a handsome salary that I joined the company immediately.
Soon after joining I could see the real face of the company masked with the facade of "all is rosy".
The company was in financial trouble as its financiers had backed out . To get new financiers the company and to maintain what they said to their earlier financiers.
So whenever, we employees would ask this frank question " How is it going to be?" to our CEO, He would always re-assuredly say " Just wait for a couple of months and look at the larger picture - we are going to be a billion dollar company !"
Those couple of months turned out to be many years and still nothing happened.
Finally the mask melted and the company virtually closed down.