How To Failure-Proof Your Startup

When the next crisis hits, will your company find a way to survive and thrive?

Joe Procopio

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Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

One of the lessons of the global pandemic is that you can never predict how external events are going to impact your business. No one saw worldwide lockdowns coming. Nothing like it had never happened in the modern business age. So how do you prepare for a crisis like that? And what about the next one?

There were obvious winners during the lockdowns. These were the companies that were naturally predisposed for growth once the world was forced to stay put at home — companies like Amazon, Zoom, Netflix, and DoorDash.

But there were also companies that bore the full brunt of the collapse of their business due to the lockdowns and were not only prepared to survive, but thrive. They did so by following strategies that they had already woven into the fabric of their business even before the pandemic emerged as a threat.

Look, no startup can be 100 percent failure-proof, and no strategy is 100 percent foolproof. But here are five steps to follow that will put your startup in its best position to survive and thrive — both in bad times and in good.

1. Satisfy your customers, to a point.

Yes, you want 100 percent happy customers all the time. But some startups target 100 percent customer satisfaction by trying to be all things to all customers while chasing growth at all costs.

That strategy isn’t sustainable, nor will it survive a crisis.

Growth at all costs is unchecked growth, which can’t be controlled. When a crisis hits, that lack of control will impact your startup both economically and internally — when all those new customers need a lot more care than your company has the capacity to give them. This always leads to customer churn and employee strife.

Lean on customer feedback and organic growth to keep growth steady and at high margins. To keep your growth organic, don’t go all-in on one product model, customer profile, or market segment. Instead, solicit customer feedback, listen to them, then experiment and expand your value proposition with more high-margin, high-value offerings.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com