How to Assess if a Startup will Succeed

…how well can you answer this question:

What pain / worry / fear / concern is your startup solving or removing?

But why is this such a hard question to answer?

For some reason - we humans seem to be programmed that for our ideas to be accepted, they must offer some ‘better’ or a more ‘positive’ future.

Yet, we are designed to be twice as likely to want to avoid a loss as to seek a gain - as revealed by loss aversion theory (see

In addition, the prior experience that many startup founders have of corporate or institutional work, means we are conditioned to seek small low risk incremental gains.

Small incremental gains - at low risk - work for corporates but fail to work for startups that seek to scale, because with limited resource, no distribution & little money, our new startup business needs instant impact.

Startups need to standout:

The death of many startups is the ‘long slow no’. That is, prospects who ‘like’ what you’re doing / intend to buy but never do - because they are too busy dealing with crises & major challenges that demand their immediate attention.

Hence, a startup has to make an offer which requires potential customers to act urgently…

…and the way to make your potential customers react urgently to your offer and reach for their wallets, is to demonstrate that you can remove a pain, a fear or a worry.

Our human instinct is first and foremost survival. Our minds, therefore, are built to firstly avoid loss or risk - if you can help your prospects meet this need, they will buy from you and buy quickly.

What if my Startup hasn’t identified the pain?

Discovering a pain or worry or fear takes time and it best achieved by focusing on a small group of very similar customers and then ‘lean in’ to listen to what matters to them.

Listen not only to your prospects words, but listen to their actions! Our need for social acceptance means that few people will be completely honest in our words - but our actions reveal more!

Finding and articulating the pain takes time and experimentation or testing.

So keep working on your startup plan - by experimenting various different solutions / scenarios - until you arrive at a proposition that clearly addresses a real pain / worry / fear such that you can communicate that pain and your solution in a way that your prospect understands easily and quickly.

You’ll know your prospects understands your proposal - because they will get their phones out quickly and pay you!

How do you move forward faster with greater success?

Too many capable founders give up too soon! Partly because they don’t have immediate experience of setting up product to market fit experiments and partly because they don’t know anyone who can guide them.

Hence, work with a scaleup coach, like me, who has been through several successful startups & can help you unpick the pain / product to market fit for your startup.

Or come and join me at the Breakthrough Strategy workshop or other event.