Surviving the Startup Punches: Do You Have What It Takes? 

Dear Founder, 


“Do I have what it takes to build this startup?” 

It’s a common question I hear from founders. 

They painfully describe their journey as one step forward, then many steps back.  

There’s no doubt – you’re going to get punched in the face so many times building your startup. 

You’ll encounter countless knockbacks, rejections. 

You’re going to build things that you pour your heart and your soul into, and people are going to say, “I’m not interested” or “I don’t care”. 

Building a startup really is not for the faint-hearted. 

This is where resilience and mental fortitude come into play. 

It’s like running a marathon; you hit that wall of exhaustion, and every part of you wants to quit.  

And somehow, you’ve got to find that willpower to keep going. 

A lot of athletes will tell you that it’s just as much a mental game as it is a physical game. 

And, really, startup building is no different in that way. 

And, so, you’ve got to have a way of creating that mental fortitude to be able to continue on. 


An incredibly motivating way to do this is to talk to your potential customers in your target market that need help.  

 If you can see them struggling, and you have a passion for the problem you think you can solve, it reminds you this is a really worthwhile pursuit. 

It provides reassurance that it’s worth the time solving the problem you’re solving. 

This is also a clue to another important aspect of knowing if you have what it takes to build your startup. 

That is being sure there’s market demand for the problem you’re solving. 

This point is simple, but often underrated by startups. 

No matter how hard and smart you work, without market demand, your startup will not succeed. 

Ask yourself: Could this be a key contributor to the knockbacks and rejections I’ve been experiencing? 

And is this leading you to perhaps question if you’ve got what it takes to build this startup? 

It’s something that shouldn’t be ignored. 

So, what do we do if we suspect market demand (lack thereof) is an issue?

Market research is your best friend here.  

This involves investigating and confirming: Is there a market segment, all with the same significant pain point, that they are desperate to have solved? 

It’s crucial to validate the above to know there’s a real need, a real market demand. 

It’s a key factor to avoiding the trap of building something that nobody wants. 

(This is the ultimate startup killer reason.) 

Take the case of Twitter, which started as a podcasting platform called Odeo

When they realised there was no demand, they pivoted based on user feedback and created the social media giant we knew as Twitter (1,2). 

So, it’s important you understand the context of “do I have what it takes”.  

And differentiating between personal shortcomings and market realities. 



#1. Undertake Market Research: 

  • This is also sometimes known as User Research or Customer Discovery.  
  • It’s about talking to your target market or target customers, and discovering what their challenges and pain points are, in the context of their situation. It’s crucial to understand which pain points are the most significant and urgent they want solved.  
  • Also, have clarity on the specific segment of the market you’ll target with your solution. This market segment should share the same urgent and priority pain points and contexts.   

#2. Revisit Your Market Research:

  • Go back to your market research to ensure you haven’t missed any critical insights.  
  • Also don’t assume your market remains unchanged over time.  
  • Validate your assumptions with fresh data. This means undertaking further Market/User Research and see if there are new trends or high priority unmet needs you can address. 


#3. Pivot or Persevere: 

  • Decide whether to pivot your target market segment and/or idea based on the feedback and data collected.  
  • It’s surprisingly common to have to iterate on your initial target market segment as we explain here
  • If there’s potential in a different target market or different solution approach, make the necessary adjustments. If the original target market and idea still holds promise, refine your approach. 


#4. Stay Focused and Resilient: 

  • Set goals aligned to your priorities to keep you focused. Break these down into objectives, with outputs, measures and actionable tasks so you have clarity on where to spend your time.  
  • Reflect on your learnings and progress at regular intervals eg. fortnightly. Doing this intentionally reveals headway you might otherwise not notice, helping keep you motivated.  


Remember, every great founder has faced the same doubts about “Do I have what it takes to build this startup?”.  

It’s your resilience, mental fortitude, your drive to solve a real problem, and your ability to build something truly better that will see you through. 



If you’re facing seemingly endless obstacles and knockbacks, fill out this short questionnaire to tell us about your situation, and we’ll be in touch with your next steps in how we can help. 





Jump Ahead!




(1) Stone, B. (2014). Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind. New York: Grand Central Publishing. 

(2) Bilton, N. (2013, October 14). “All Is Fair in Love and Twitter.” Article in The New Yorker.


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, unsure of who to turn to for advice.

2. You’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice, wondering how to move out of that situation and into better guidance.

If you’re ready to get the help you need growing your startup, our Startup Builder™ solution was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you 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, share your situation with us by filling out this short questionnaire and we’ll get in touch with your next steps.


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