Your startup will probably die.

I'm speaking from the vantage of statistics and personal experience.

I've tasted failure. I've seen dozens of startups crash and burn. I've watched gung-ho entrepreneurs go belly-up. It happens. Startup failure rates are real.

But for all the weeping and wailing about startup failure, there is good news. The entrepreneurs who succeed rise up from the challenge, dust off their pants, and start another company. A bigger one. A better one. One that doesn't fail.

So, startup death seems like a bad thing. But startup resurrections are a good thing.

If your startup is going to die, you need to be the one who clenches the sword in your rugged fist and gives it the death-dealing stroke.

When you're the one who kills your startup, you're more likely to build something that matters next time.

It hurts more when you kill it.

Do you feel the pain?

Good. You're supposed to.

While I'm not trying to be masochistic, I want you to sense the searing, crushing, brain-numbing blow of losing the startup you loved so much.

Why? Because that's the sensation that will inspire you to rise up and do it all over again.

You learn more when you kill it.

Every failure is a learning experience. I don't like to think of startup failures as "failures," because that word sounds so conclusive and negative.

A "failure" is a rebirth of sorts. You learn so much.

If you are the one who realizes it's time to close up shop, then you are the one who learns valuable lessons.

You know when it should die.

It can be extremely difficult for a startup entrepreneur to know when the startup should die. You're blinded by the fact that you're so close to it.

If you make a concentrated effort to distance yourself, however, you begin to see very clearly the signs of the startup's demise. This is your chance to make a decision--is it time to pull the plug?

You know best, and you can decide.

You remain in control when you kill it.

You never want to surrender control of your startup, even when it's going down in flames. When you are the one who puts it out of its misery, you are also the one who has the power and control to start another company.

Always maintain control. You not only feel stronger when you're in control; you are stronger, even to the bitter end.

You can salvage more when you kill it.

When a startup dies, all is not lost.

You have the lessons that you learned, but you probably have something else. You have relationships, business plans, resources, software, files, designs, templates, budgets, and spreadsheets.

You don't have to throw everything away. You can save the stuff that will help you in your next venture.

You can preserve relationships when you kill it.

In my opinion, one of the most discouraging things about a dying startup is the fractured relationships. Not everyone has the emotional resilience to last through the breakdown of a startup.

It's tough. There goes your work, your income, your hopes, your equity, and your dreams.

Some people join startups for the wrong reasons. These are the people who will probably leave when the startup declines.

If you are the one guiding your startup to the grave, then you can also take care of the people who are being affected. You can show them why it needs to happen, and what's going to come next--a new vision, a new business, and a new hope.

You can refine your strategy when you kill it.

One other thing that remains when your startup is gone is strategy.

Perhaps it was a lack of strategy that plunged your startup into failure. Perhaps it was an overeager strategy. Perhaps it was the wrong strategy.

Whatever the case, you can take the vestiges of that strategy and shape them into something that will be successful next time.

You feel ownership and responsibility when you kill it.

It's important to take full responsibility for the death of your startup.

There are two ways a startup can die--by external forces or by an internal decision.

When external forces crush the startup to death, we tend to take on a victim mentality. It's not our fault! We are the victims of a cold and cruel economy. We were unfairly edged out by the big budgets of the establishment. We were sidelined by powerful critics.

The feelings of victimhood are not beneficial. They certainly won't enable you to rise up and start a new business.

If, by contrast, you take responsibility for killing your startup, then you are the one who can recover as well.

Remaining the responsible party puts you in the driver's seat, not only for the demise of the company, but for the rise of the next.

You feel a greater sense of motivation to start all over again.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of killing your own startup is the fiery motivation that it gives you to start all over again.

You're going to grieve. And that's okay.

But as soon as possible, you're going to sink your teeth into the next big thing. You're going to use the angry energy from your erstwhile startup to start from the ground up once again.


As your startup gasps its final breath, you're ready to move on to your next big thing.

The death of one startup simply paves the way for your next startup.

Learn from your experience, wipe away the tears of grief, remember the pain you felt, and go build something new.

Have you faced the death of a startup? How did it motivate you?

Published on: Mar 3, 2016