Success isn’t Easy

Starting a business is hard, very hard. I don’t write this to dissuade you, nor anyone else interested in starting a business, but to just preface that startups are a lot of work, and a lot of joy, but ultimately a risk. Things only become more complicated if your startup or startup idea is in a new category of its own (has it been done before?).

In fact, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, over 50% of startups fail within their first five years and over 70% within their first ten. Citing similar statistics, Small Business Trends found that “incompetence” accounted for nearly half of all small business failures, and that a whopping 82% failures are due to “cash flow problems.”

There’s a wide range of types of startup companies, types of businesses, types of markets, types of customers, and types of solutions. Needless to say, there are a wide range of challenges to overcome. From my experience dealing with creators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and small business associates for well over ten years, the number one reason for failure-by-ignorance is lack of iteration.

This we can change.

by Deskmag

The Plunge

Failure-by-ignorance, is more often than not, a failure-to-iterate. We don’t know what we don’t know -right? So let’s take a few minutes to overview a method for learning.

The most common failure scenarios startups encounter can easily be summed up in terms of stakeholders (1) not asking questions, (2) not learning from answers, (3) not changing from said answers, and (4) not asking more.
As individuals, we often get stuck on an idea, a solution; that thing ‘we know’ will just do it, but in actuality does not. We push that thing forward, and we elevate that idea to an inflection point, but often do we neglect to learn about the larger contexts of said problem, and whether our idea is the ideal solution. Once we’ve ‘landed’ on our solution; once we’ve reached that fiscally-bound or time-bound inflection point, we’re likely not turning back.

You’ve just likely failed.

Learn to Swim

Ideas are not the hard part.

Take the necessary time to learn about the waters you’re jumping into before you take the plunge with yours. If incompetence is the root cause of business failure, and those failures are likely to be correlated to fiscal issues, take the time to learn about the (1) problems, (2) existing solutions, (3) potential and existing market, and (4) their related communication channels.

Discovery is the hard part. Take the time to discover if your idea has merit. Focus your nascent startup resources on teasing out the idea, to qualitatively (and quantitatively ) account for your course of action. Ask questions. Talk with people. Capture everything.

This is just an outline.

Spring into Action

To tackle this issue, LIGHTS is partnering with local economic development and small business development experts to help you nail that first dive. We don’t think any aspiring entrepreneur should find themselves floundering aimlessly in the fierce waters of competition. We want you to have had a purpose for every action, and not spend your time ‘just’ treading water.

To this end, we’re putting on Springboard – A six-week program that enables new and aspiring inventors, entrepreneurs, and makers, with tools and insights to create a practical company. Learn how to put your idea and yourself out there, how to work with others on everyone’s compelling (perhaps even competing) ideas to simulate real-world experiences.

Learn how to validate your ideas. Bury the bad ones (or set aside those for which are inconclusive). Learn how to present your findings in a public setting, and sharpen your communication and presentation skills.

Take the successful plunge into your future business.


In the Muskingum County (OH) area? Interested in a specific idea, problem, or field? These types of events may be right for you. While we’ve passed our registration date for this event, you can still take advantage of LIGHTS free one-on-one services to help you move forward.

If you’re interested, please reach out!


About LIGHTS: Ohio University’s Innovation Center founded the LIGHTS (Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability) program in 2016. LIGHTS’ Innovation Network catalyzes the creation of companies to create high-wage jobs, and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The Appalachian Regional Commission generously funded the program because of its unique way of matching complex problems and opportunities facing corporations, communities, and individuals to a network of two strategically-placed Innovation Hubs and seven Gateways. New marketable products arise from these problems. The Gateways and Hubs are new business incubators and makerspaces serving a 28-county area.