How one little word leads to startup failure

Be honest. How many times have you said (or heard) one or more of the following lines? 

“We’re about to ‘launch’ our website.”
“We’re getting ready to ‘launch’ our brand.”
“In two weeks’ time, we’re ‘launching’ our product.”  

Then when said website is ‘launched’ – it’s launched to… crickets. 

When the new brand is ‘launched’ – it’s launched to… no one caring. 

When the shiny new feature-packed product is ‘launched’ – it’s launched to… nobody signing up to use it. 

Or just a handful of people hitting the ‘install’ button. 

It’s one of the biggest causes of startup failure: racing to ‘launch’ something too early and launching the wrong thing as a result.

Not only that, but also going about the process of a ‘launch’ in a totally erratic way with no coherence in the marketing in the lead-up. 

There are several factors that drive this haste to launch in startup founders, but one of the biggest contributing factors is startups seeking investment from VCs too early in the process.

What’s far more productive is to bootstrap as far as possible while looking for angel investors who really understand, and are aligned with, the problem you’re trying to solve. 

VCs are always talking about wanting to see a product because they want to invest and get quick returns so they can meet the needs of their investors who want quick returns. 

But when startup founders follow the push from VCs to get a product done – what happens on the other side of getting that product out is usually more of a fizzle than a bang.

The fact is, you’re not SpaceX launching a rocket. And at this very early stage, there’s not going to be some kind of big event just because you pressed ‘publish’ on a website or an app store. 

Any founder who thinks that all they have to do is press ‘publish’ on their SaaS platform and Google ads, then post “We’re live!” on their social media channels – and suddenly the masses are going to flock – is in for a rude shock. 

They’re not coming, and here are the reasons why: 

  • The user research hasn’t been conducted properly.
    (User research is when you go out and specifically talk to people in your target market and interview them about their challenges, pain points, and impediments)
  • The “pants on fire problem” has not been clearly defined.
    (The founder doesn’t know what pain points they’re really tackling)
  • The beachhead market segment has not been defined.
    (They’ve created a product with a load of features but no real signature solution for a specific market segment) 
  • The founder hasn’t thought through what their customers’ “jobs to be done” are and figured out a pathway to reduce and streamline those.
    (“Jobs to be done” are the actions a prospective customer has to do currently to solve the problem you’re planning to solve in a better way)  

At LeapSheep, we encourage startups to shoot first for an MVP concept, rather than rushing ahead to build a product.  

This is a Minimum Viable Product concept only – like a clickable prototype.

It should be rough – the “sticky tape and glue” version – but good enough that you can go back to the people you did user research with, show it to them, and ask them if they’d be happy to test it if you built it. 

Then, when you have built it, you go back to that same list of user researchers to test it – and it is these people who then become your early-adopter customers.

No ‘launch’ required. 

Launches – while they sound exciting and productive – are usually for more established companies that have already created a product that’s been successful in the market and have the marketing budget to craft an intentionally designed launch. 

The type of marketing campaign required to land a truly successful launch that has the masses flocking to your product is a carefully curated event with a big build-up during the weeks leading into it. 

It requires expert direct-response copywriting skills and deep strategic knowledge of how profitable launch campaigns are orchestrated – something you’ll almost definitely have to outsource – and you’ll need a robust budget to do so. 

This type of marketing outsourcing can only be done successfully with deep, intimate knowledge of your market segments, the nuances of the problems they face, and the detailed nitty-gritty on what their “jobs to be done” really entail. 

If you’re a founder navigating the early stages of your startup and you’re not sure what to do to ensure you build the right product, we can help. Fill out this short questionnaire, and we’ll get in touch to help you with your next steps.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.

If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.

  1. You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
  2. Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.

If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.

If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.


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