Startup Success Starts With Traction: What It Is and How to Find It

If you’re taking one step forward and two steps back, you might have lost direction

Joe Procopio
5 min readAug 30, 2021


You’ve got a great product. You’ve found market fit. You’ve got customers — maybe a few, maybe a lot. Now what?

You’re making progress, but you’re lurching forward. Or worse, you keep taking one step forward and two steps back. You’re having awesome days when everything seems to go right, followed by dreary, everything-is-failing days.

I’ve been there so many times that I just call it Tuesday. This is a perfectly normal path on your startup’s way to finding traction.

What Does Traction Mean for a Startup?

Traction is not to be found with a minimum viable product. It’s not a badge earned from a product’s initial sales. It’s not a guarantee backed by a startup’s early success.

If you’re looking for traction, you’re looking for sustainable, scalable growth.

That kind of growth doesn’t happen when you’re flat-footed. And in most cases, a startup has to fail multiple times before it finds the right combination of product evolution and market expansion along the way.

So if you can’t seem to get traction, it’s usually because you’re stuck on either the product or the market side.

Understand You Must Improve Continuously

You can’t rest on your last success. By the time your product organically builds more market share, these events will undoubtedly set you back:

  • New entrants into the same market will come after your share.
  • New customer problems will emerge that you’ll need to solve before someone else does.
  • New external factors will sneak up on your business.

So you’re going to have to perpetually improve your offering. This means change — which is risky and painful.

Sometimes change means addition by subtraction, which will anger certain customers. Sometimes it means going after a new market with a completely different value proposition, which will alienate certain customers…



Joe Procopio

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