The Science Behind Why 90% of Companies Fail – and How You Can Avoid It

How to F*ck up Your Startup

We all dream of success, but the reality is that the majority of businesses are doomed to fail.

How to F*ck Up Your Startup is a journey through the pitfalls that cause companies to crash and burn—and the crucial remedies entrepreneurs can use to avoid (or fix) them.

And how do I know, you ask? Quite specifically through:

14 years of structured analysis
Numerous founder interviews
Data from 160,000 failed companies
My very personal f*ckups as a serial entrepreneur (leaving me broke for years…)

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Learn from the best… – and the worst

Kim Hvidkjaer takes us on an entertaining and enlightening adventure through the complex patterns of failure in the life cycle of a business, covering:

  • Attitude mistakes
  • Business model blunders
  • Market research missteps
  • Funding and financial fiascos
  • Product development errors
  • Organization oversights
  • Sales snafus
  • Growing pains

Most important, Hvidkjaer tackles how to avoid these problems and what to do when your business has gone wrong. Chock-full of easy-to-follow lessons that will keep you from f *cking up your own startup, this down-to-earth guide offers crucial, actionable advice for seasoned business owners and startup founders alike.

A master class in failure, How to F*ck Up Your Startup is required reading for maintaining hope in the face of missteps and for achieving success.

How this book is structured

1

Attitude F*ckups

Entrepreneurs routinely take blows from all angles, making attitude a central part of the game.

Strap in, as we will discuss both Not Starting,  Impostor Syndrome, the Passion Pinch, Plate-Spinning and Lone-Wolf Syndrome

2

Business Model F*ckups

With attitude on track, we’re now down to business. No doing business without a viable business model, right? The reality is unfortunately different.

We’ll cover the Poor Business Plan, Idiot Industry, the Problem-Less Solution, Co-Dependency Collapse, Terrible Timing, as well as the Mini-Mindset

3

Market Research F*ckups

Insufficient (and downright stupid) market research is a common cause of failure.

In this chapter we meet famous f*ckups including the Doppelganger Danger, being Unnecessarily Original, Competing with the Network Effect, (lack of) Customers, the Messed-Up MVP, Analysis Paralysis and of course also Cheating and Ripping People Off.

4

Funding F*ckups

Ask the founders of any failed startup what went wrong and you’ll get the same answer every time: “We ran out of money.” Reality is (much) more complex.

We will take a tour through Getting Funded, Convoluting Capital, Bad Budgeting, The Cap-Table Capsize, Amateur Accounting and Inadequate Early Profitability. Oh, and of course Death by Overfunding.

5

Product Development F*ckups

For better or worse, product development is where many startups actually begin.

This let us dive into the FNAC, the Big Bang Release,  the Mashup, Identity Crisis, Overcorrecting Success and Failure, as well as Overzealous Outsourcing and the f*ckup of Not Stealing from Giants.

6

Organizational F*ckups

People are behind all the best mistakes, so with the team in hand we will move from simple to advanced failures.

We start with the Flawed Founding Team, moving onto the Missing Co-Founder, Friends and Family On Board, Rush to the Altar, Hiring Freeze, Horrible Hiring, Hiring Men (yikes!), Firing Phobia, through having Awful Accountability and believing you’ll be the Forever CEO.

7

Sales F*ckups

Selling sells. Except when it fails.

Reasons include Lacking Sales Talent, Missing Sales Metrics, Non-Structured Sales, The Flawed Product-Market Fit, Product Pleasing, Building Sales on a Weak Product, PricingPredicaments, Over-Promise, Under-Deliver and of course Rejecting Revenue.

8

Growth F*ckups

Growing pains? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for ruin later in startup life.

In this chapter we look closer at Poor Pivoting, Wrong-Work Distractions, Bad Decisions, Overcomplicating Operations, Growing Too Fast, Giving Up Too Soon – and just Not Knowing When to Quit.

9

All the F*ckups You Never Saw Coming

In our last, lofty chapter we’ll cover the business black swans and grey rhino’s that you may never meet, but should still keep watch for.

More specifically we will dive deep in the mistakes of Not Believing the Future Is Predictable and The Future Is Certain but Unwritten.