Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Mistakes that kill startups


We have all seen the statistics on startups’ demise- depending on the source and the industry the start-up is operating in the numbers are anywhere from 30 to 80 percent.

Of course not all failures are created equal. Some of the most common mistakes credited with killing startups are going into business for the wrong reasons, wrong place at wrong time, lack of financial responsibility and awareness, lack of management experience, lack of market awareness, lack of clear focus, too much money (that one might be hard to believe but it is true) just to name few.

However I want to talk about something more specific- respect towards customers and a long term vision.  Can a great product survive poor customer service? Can business survive pushing a single sale versus creating authentic and interactive relationships with the customers?

So obviously I have something on my mind- a recent interaction I had with a startup. I like buying small and local, supporting entrepreneurs and artists. I like exploring new products with compelling story, differentiation and interesting founders. I encountered a startup with a great product, good story and expertise in their field. However bad customer communication that felt disrespectful and rude made me reconsider my purchases and look elsewhere for similar products. Every startup needs customers but more than that every startup needs repeated customers. And I know I won’t be buying from “that” company again.

So I started thinking what is really important in this very competitive marketplace especially when you are not very well established brand and every purchase is vital for the survival of the business? Would you put more emphasis on closing every sale at any cost or you would put time and emphasis on building relationships with your customers and convert them into your evangelists. I would pick the second every time.

Creating longer term relationship with your customers and investing the time and effort to develop a consistent customer relationship strategy and execute on it goes a long way in brand management and drives sales growth and brand exposure. Conversely more than 50 percent of unsatisfied customers get even by spreading the word about the bad service they received and with more than two thirds of all customers being influenced by other’s comments, word-of-mouth can quickly destroy the reputation of a company.

So what do you think- can a great product survive poor customer service? Can a business survive a shortsighted strategy of pushing a single sale versus creating authentic and interactive long-term relationships with the customers?