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笔译:创业公司为什么会失败

2014-10-13    来源:fortune    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

笔译:创业公司为什么会失败

据估计,每10家创业公司中就有9家会失败。创始人反省的失败教训多种多样,但首要原因是,他们的产品压根就没有市场需求。

笔译:When the founder of a startup company shuts down her or his business, it is customary to pen an essay that tells the rest of the community what went wrong, called a failure post-mortem. It’s estimated that nine out of 10 startups fail, which is why the technique has become so common as to be a Silicon Valley cliché. Some of these essays are honest, enlightening, and brave. Others point fingers or issue backward non-apologies. Medium, the publishing platform co-founded by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, is the preferred medium.
当创业公司的创始人关掉公司时,他们往往会写上一篇文章,对圈中人交代一下自己走过的弯路,这种文章就叫失败剖析。据估计,每10家创业公司中就有9家会失败,这也是为什么失败剖析文章层出不穷,成为硅谷的陈词滥调。这类文章有些写得坦诚、勇敢、发人深思,还有一些就只知道推卸责任,或是根本不认为自己有什么应该检讨之处。当创业家发表失败剖析时,他们往往最青睐由Twitter公司联合创始人伊万•威廉姆斯参与创办的出版平台Medium。

The proliferation of the failure post-mortem has helped create a bizarre cult of failure that seems wrong-headed. Celebrating failure (“Fail fast” goes the mantra) seems to let people off the hook for bad behavior. Upon closer inspection, it seems less misguided than necessary. Starting a high-growth business is a roller coaster. Founder-CEOs feel pressure to keep up the facade of success, even when things are actually falling apart behind the scenes. Only recently, after the tragic suicide of Jody Sherman, CEO of a startup called Ecomom, did the technology community begin to publicly acknowledge the problems with its “entrepreneur as hero” narrative. Publicly admitting to failure, and examining it, can take guts. It also distills the narrative to a case study from which other entrepreneurs can learn.
失败剖析文章风行一时,催生出一种荒诞的失败崇拜现象,这似乎是一种执迷不悟的举动。庆祝失败(“快速失败”成了口头禅)似乎可以让那些因行为不当而失败的人摆脱困境。进一步深入审视会发现,这么做似乎并不算过分。要开创一番高速成长的业务犹如坐上过山车。重压之下,创始人兼首席执行官必须时时摆出一副成功在握的样子,哪怕在光鲜的表面背后,公司实际上早已千疮百孔。也就是最近,在Ecomom公司首席执行官乔迪•谢尔曼悲惨自杀后,科技界才开始承认它一贯推崇的“创业家就是英雄”观点是有问题的。公开承认失败并加以检讨需要很大勇气。它还能将各种亲身讲述的经历提炼为案例,供其他企业家学习。

CB Insights recently parsed 101 post-mortem essays by startup founders to pinpoint the reasons they believe their company failed. On Thursday the company crunched the numbers to reveal that the number-one reason for failure, cited by 42% of polled startups, is the lack of a market need for their product.
近日,CB Insights公司深入剖析了101篇由公司创始人撰写的失败剖析文章,探寻了他们心目中自己公司失败的根本原因。对数据进行分析后,这家公司指出,42%的受访创业公司选择的失败首要原因,是产品缺乏市场需求。

That should be self-evident. If no one wants your product, your company isn’t going to succeed. But many startups build things people don’t want with the irrational hope that they’ll convince them otherwise.
这其实是不言自明的。如果压根就没人想要你的产品,你的公司当然不会成功。但是很多创业企业却恰恰制造了人们不想要的产品,同时又不切实际地希望能够说服人们接受这些产品。

The most prominent modern example of this phenomenon is the mobile phone. People dismissed it as a novelty in its early days. Obviously, they are no longer a novelty. The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” The problem is that entrepreneurs have taken that to heart. For every $19 billion company like Uber, the private transportation service, there are all manner of frivolous products that never evolve past the phase.
关于这个现象,一个最明显的例子就是手机。在手机刚问世时,人们觉得它只是个新鲜小玩意儿,不怎么当回事。当然,现在手机再也不算什么新鲜玩意了。苹果公司(Apple)联合创始人史蒂夫•乔布斯有句名言,“很多时候,人们并不知道自己真正的需求,直到你放在他们眼前时他们才会醒悟。”问题是很多创业者都太把这句话当真了。每出现一个类似打车软件制造商Uber这样估值达到190亿美元的公司,或许便有无数没有走出研发阶段的肤浅产品。

There are more practical concerns. Polled founders also cited a lack of sufficient capital (29%), the assembly of the wrong team for the project (23%), and superior competition (19%) as top reasons for failure.
当然失败还和更实际的问题有关。受访创始人们列举的原因还有,缺乏足够资金(29%),项目团队的人员组成问题(23%)以及竞争激烈(19%)。

The self-assessment lines up, for the most part, with what industry experts have said. Paul Graham, a partner at the Y Combinator startup accelerator, wrote in 2007 that startups usually die because they run out of money or a founder leaves.
这些自我评估中,绝大多数都和业内专家所说的一致。比如著名孵化器Y Combinator的创始人保罗•格雷厄姆2007年就曾在文中表示,创业公司倒闭的原因通常是耗光了资金或是某位创始人离职。

Steve Hogan, who runs a startup turn-around shop called Tech-Rx, says companies with founded by one person—that is, no partners—are most likely to fail. He ranks product demand, or a lack thereof, second. The existence of a co-founder helps avoid many of the reasons cited at the bottom of the CB Insights chart, he says, including disharmony, poor marketing, and the wrong team.
斯蒂夫•霍根经营着一家名为Tech-Rx的公司,教创业公司如何扭转不利局面。他表示,那些由一个人(也就是没有合伙人)创立的公司是最容易失败的。而产品需求,或者说缺乏产品需求,则排在第二位。他还表示,如果有联合创始人,就能规避掉CB Insights图表中一些靠后的问题,比如团队不和谐,营销不力,以及团队人员不合适等。

Running out of cash does not cause a startup’s failure, Hogan says—it’s merely a symptom of another issue. Excluding instances of “stupid spending” or the inability to raise capital in the first place, startups tend to run out of cash when a CEO has overlooked all other indicators of failure. “Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the only ‘symptom’ that the leadership sees,” he says.
他还说,资金用光并不会让创业公司倒闭——那只是其他问题的症状而已。如果排除掉“胡乱花钱”或是创办时就缺乏募资能力这些原因,创业公司之所以容易花光钱,主要是因为首席执行官忽视了所有其他失败的苗头。他说:“不幸的是,有时候缺钱却是领导层所能看见的唯一‘症状’。”(财富中文网)

译者:清远



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