There are a lot of reasons why startups fail.
You can make 1,000,000 different mistakes and no business book can cover them all. There are, however, some typical ones that pop up occasionally.
The partnership didn’t work out. Your investors didn’t give you enough money to keep afloat long enough. You under-raised. You over-raised. You lost interested in the initial idea. Your product sucked. Competitors stole your idea. Etc, etc, etc.
But the most common reason for those entrepreneurs who wanted to succeed and did (according to them) everything right, is failing to achieve what business schools call product/market fit. Your product wasn’t accepted by the people you marketed it too.
In other words: you gave the wrong thing to the wrong people.
It may be that your product was shit and there is no audience that would have liked it. Or it may be that your product was amazing — it’s just that you failed to realize that grandmothers don’t need a “cheap version of the Apple Watch”.
Product/market fit is the killer of startups. It’s the bitch that created the “90% rule”: 90% of startups die in the first year.
And in the media and content world (the one I live and work in), it’s pretty much the same. I called the asshole: content/audience fit. Similar to startups, achieving it, is the keystone to your content’s success. In fact, it is the definition of any content’s success.
Successful content — is the one that reached it’s audience and resonated in a meaningful way.
Think about it:
- You wouldn’t give your grandma read porn magazines
- People who like to read about baseball don’t want to read about soccer
- And your posts about high school traumas are not interesting to people looking for concrete business content
Failing to achieve your content/audience fit is giving the wrong content to the wrong audience. Blogs that lived long enough to achieve this fit are the ones most successful.
If your content has this fit secured, it doesn’t need promotion. It’s growing by itself, as ideas spread horizontally (by recommendation from person to person).
The opposite is true as well: if your content is not fit to its audience (and vice versa), it won’t grow. It also won’t build loyalty or engagement.
How do you achieve this content/audience fit?
By experimenting with the only 2 variables we’ve got: content and audience.
When successful bloggers say “experiment” they mean precisely that:
- Try out different topics, different writing styles, length, editing, etc. and see how you audience reacts. If something is successful — do more of that.
- Try reaching out to new, different audiences through paid marketing or otherwise. You may be surprised that your content may be liked by people who you never thought could actually be your audience.
But most importantly: every time you test a new content hypothesis, you need to define it publicly. There are tons of blogs on the Internet that talk about self-development, golf, bitcoin, startups and also give dating advice.
Don’t be one of these blogs. Define your theme. Define topics of your posts. And define the audience you are trying to reach.
Until you reach content/audience fit, it’s literally useless to do any paid advertising or promote yourself in any way. It’ll all be ineffective.
You’ll reach this fit if you have 1000 people who love you (not ‘like’, but really LOVE). Then it’s time to expand your reach to more similar people.