Running a business is not easy. According to research published in Forbes, around 90% of all startups fail, and the reasons for this tend to be fairly uniform across the board.

Generally, such failures come about because:

- There is no audience for the business

- The product/service has not been priced or marketed in the right way

- The company attempts to grow or expand too quickly

- They don't have the right team members in place

- They run out of money

So, given that the reasons for failure are well established, what should startups do if they want to achieve success and thrive while other companies fall by the wayside?

1. Understand what the audience wants

It doesn't matter how interesting or innovative your product is if you don't have the audience to sell it to. Your customers – and potential customers – are the people that will ultimately keep your business afloat and bring in that valuable revenue, so you need to both speak their language, and give them something that they genuinely want.

It is worth noting that customers want more than simply a strong product or service. Did you know, for example, that 85% of people have a more positive image of a brand if they associate it with a charity they care about? Or that 66% of people are willing to spend more on a product if it has been sourced responsibly?

Consider what makes consumers commit to a purchase, and do all you can to give them a reason to become your customer.

2. Provide a product or service that is valuable

This really should go without saying, but it can be difficult to know exactly what your audience will consider valuable and what they regard as unnecessary. This all begins by considering the first point in this list – understanding your audience. Is there a gap in the market that they would like to see you exploit? Is there a product on the market already that they would like to see improved? Is there an option to simplify a process or service that is currently overly complicated?

Remember that a good product or service doesn't have to be completely unique; it simply has to be better than other products or services on the market.

3. Develop the right culture

Developing the right culture, and then promoting this culture, is absolutely crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. The average adult will spend around a third of their life at work, so creating an environment they want to be part of is key.

And, though this is solid advice for startups, it’s a mentality that is adopted by some of the biggest companies in the world. Did you know, for example, that Amazon employees are encouraged to bring their dogs into work?

Or that there are specially designed 'thinking spheres' filled with plants at the company's Seattle offices that aim to encourage innovation?

This is surely part of the reason why Amazon is reportedly the second most admired company in the world.

If you want your business to be successful, research what makes for a healthy and productive work environment and do all you can to adopt the right mentality.

4. Make employees feel valued

All startups tread something of a tightrope. Profit margins are generally tight, and because the operation tends to be fairly small for the first few months/years, having the right employees in place is absolutely vital. However, it is key to remember that if someone is incredibly talented and has the capacity to help a business grow, there's a strong chance that a competitor – or a larger organisation with more resources – could try to poach them.

Of course, as a startup, it's unlikely that you will have the financial clout to offer an employee a huge wage increase, so your best tactic is to make them feel valued and give them reasons to stay.

But what exactly do employees want from a company?

- 40% of employees say lack of growth opportunities would make them consider leaving

- 77% of employees want to benefit from flexible working hours

- 68% of millennials want the chance to work from home from time to time

By understanding exactly what your employees want from their role, and by being honest about what you can offer them, you will stand the best chance of keeping strong members of staff happy.

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