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



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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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