Why do start ups fail? Shit Happens! Personal experiences and examples

Projects can always fail. Somewhere I once picked up the saying, “Shit happens! Make a T-shirt out of it” – true words, because projects can always fail. More about: Why do Start Ups fail? 90% fail in the first 5 years: Top 11 Reasons why Start Ups fail.

Shit happens! Make it a T-shirt

Projects fail due to internal or external influences that you as an entrepreneur can sometimes not count on. For me it was the “Social Analytics” investment, for example. A few weeks after the launch of our software “Social Analytics”, Monitoring and Influencer Management for Instagram, we had to stop the service again. Our mistake, we had underestimated the risk that Facebook would restrict third-party access. Almost three quarters of a year of work and preparation were within seconds for the cat. So it’s not always just about opportunities and risks, advantages and disadvantages, even access restrictions, whether from social media networks or suppliers, can quickly put you in your place. After all, you have a beautiful story and learn from your experiences!

Many have failed with a business idea

As strange as it sounds, many icons from the business world say that they have always learned the most from their mistakes, sometimes even more, than from successes and the best ideas! You can then contribute your expertise to many discussions or projects. In this respect, you no longer have a business model, but your history and learnings, which will certainly be of interest to others.

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At this point I would like to point out three quotes from great entrepreneurs, which I find very inspiring myself. Mister Thomas Edison has also had the experience of failure, the man to whom we owe the light bulb, among other things.

Quotes on failure

Even he liked to talk about his failed projects and still shapes entrepreneurs worldwide:

Mr. Thomas Edison

“I didn’t fail – I discovered 10,000 ways that didn’t work” – Mr. Thomas Edison

In the area of the great inspiring quotes and the great entrepreneurs, it is also worth taking another look at Mister Henry Ford. The man I already mentioned in relation to the calculation of marketing tasks with the sentence: “For every dollar you put into your product, you have to have another one ready to make the product known”. Henry Ford also frequently referred to the topic of “failed projects” and “failure” per se. The second quote that I will mention in the context of the book refers to the absolute beginning, the foundation. Starting a business is like playing football with friends as a little boy. It’s just fun! If you don’t take that into account, you give up quickly and that happens in most cases. If you manage to stay in the market alone for three, five, or even seven years, that’s half the battle, because most of your initial competitors automatically disappear after some time. So you don’t have to focus too much on the others. Concentrate on your success and on yourself as an entrepreneur. That’s why Henry Ford said:

Mr. Henry Ford

“There are more people who surrender than those who fail” – Mr. Henry Ford

To achieve all this, you need attention to detail and precision! That’s why here’s my favorite quote from Confucius. From spontaneous device failures of several notebooks in the office, to spontaneous flu waves in winter and high levels of illness, to demanding customers and projects, to waiting for the craftsman.


“If one is not patient in small things, one brings the big projects to failure” – Confucius

Not only the old teachers have failed, of course the younger icons in business have also fallen on their noses a few times with projects.

Lose fear of the risk

So that you can continue to lose your fear of risk, here are three truly fascinating examples from the business world. Trial-and-error, that means trying and failing. The principle belongs, so to speak, to good entrepreneurship! Who does not also fail sometimes, dares in the reverse conclusion too little new. When they fail, it’s similar to the great buildings of history: We’re all talking about the pyramids that are still standing. Thousands and thousands of pyramids have been built. So that we do not always look only at the great successes, here is also a look at the attempts of large entrepreneurs to establish new business models.

failure at a young age: Today’s icons

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and currently the richest man in the world – despite a billion divorce and costs of over 35 billion – failed with several Amazon projects. Morten Lund, founder of Skype, one of the communication platforms for video telephony, slipped into bankruptcy twice. Then the story of Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, his first software first nobody wanted to have. In the end, he even offered it for free, but nobody used it. Shortly thereafter, he founded Microsoft. The rest is history! These three giants in the digital industry are friends of principle trial-and-error. A small excerpt:

Jeff Bezos (Founder: Amazon)

Beside all successful projects, like one of the biggest online shops of our time or current and new the space travel and the colonization of the moon, there were also a few projects which did not go down so well with the society. His search engine A9 should become a competitor model to Google. Market shares could not be gained and so the project was terminated at the end.

But he also wanted to create a competitive model for eBay. This means that not only professional traders can trade, but also private individuals. “Amazon Auctions was the name of this project. This was also discontinued without success after a short time. Here you can see how difficult it is to compete against good and established products and to dare something new and to establish it on the market. Google, but also eBay are already so well positioned and function almost independently that it is difficult to get people to move to new platforms and switch.

  • Search engine A9 – fail
  • Amazon Auctions – fail

Morten Lund (Founder: Skype)

Morten Lund, Skype founder, is an excellent example of the skipjack of today. He had his first insolvency at a young age. His first business model: to sell Abitur hats. In Denmark, Abitur hats are the absolute bestseller for school leavers. Unfortunately, he did not manage to sell his hut, as it is an extremely seasonal business, he had to declare bankruptcy in 1994, immediately after the graduation celebrations. It shouldn’t be that way! Fifteen years later, he went bankrupt for the second time, in 2009. In fact, he had managed to organise all the money earned by Skype, the investment in 2003 and the subsequent growth spurt, in such a way that he went bankrupt for the second time. Nevertheless, he has not given up and since 2016 he has actually been debt-free again. A great example of a role model for someone who also fails in higher spheres and not only with a single project, but also privately.

  • 1994 Insolvency (sale of high school graduation hats in Denmark)
  • 2003 Invest in Skype, made millions
  • 2009 Insolvency #2
  • 2016 Debt relief

You can learn from Morten Lund’s story as an entrepreneur. Give up? What’s the matter with you? Those who really believe in themselves should always go on and believe that they will make the breakthrough at some point. Others have finally made it!

Bill Gates (Founder: Mircosoft)

Bill Gates is one of the most fascinating companies in the world for me. Not only did he start his business out of a garage, he became the richest man in the world and gave up half. What Bill Gates also deserves credit for is that he managed to leave his own company at a very good time. Many remain in the company until they are old and then do not find the right successor. Bill Gates took early care of a structure that would replace him. Hats off, Mr Gates! From garage to richest man in the world and back to privateer. Everyone starts with their first business idea. Will it directly become a million or even billions of ideas?

His first business idea was born in the high school “Traf-O-Data”. The software made it possible at that time for the very first time to carry out automated traffic counting, no longer by people with pen and paper. During the first presentations, however, the demonstration did not work without errors. The interested parties were less enthusiastic and so in the end not a single authority was interested in the software solution. Bill Gates was so frustrated that he ended up offering his software completely free of charge. Still, she didn’t want an agency. A typical moment to say, “I can’t do it.”

But no! Short time later, he developed in collaboration with his high school friend Paul Allen “Microsoft”. Since the beginning of the computer era, the world’s most popular operating system for computers and notebooks.

  • High School: “Traf-O-Data”: Demo did not work (road traffic census), later free of charge, yet no authority wanted it
  • Learned intensive software writing
  • foundation “Microsoft”

Three icons whose products everyone knows. Amazon, Skype and Mircosoft. Three entrepreneurs who have experienced setbacks in their lives and yet remained steadfast. Believing in yourself moves mountains, as you can see from these examples, it is not a saying.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is currently even competing with other American greats such as Elon Musk or Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson. You and other multibillionaires are about to conquer nearby space. Elon Musk company SpaceX focuses mainly on logistics between earth and orbit. Jeff Bezos wants to be the first to colonize the moon permanently and thus provide a stopover for future Mars landings. Virgin goes mainly to space tourism and flights in nearby orbit…

Think big!

And already we are away from failure and from the big ideas that change the world! The perfect transition for you and your business idea.