Four Years on Average for Startup Success

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There’s a variety of opinions online about how long it takes to start a company from scratch and have it be successful (depends on your success definition but for me it is $1 million+ gross margin (not revenue), growing, profitable, and not dependent on a single key person). I’ve talked to entrepreneurs that were able to do it in 18 months and I’ve talked to entrepreneurs where it took 10 years (most fail).

After being in the technology startup community for 10 years I’ve come to believe it takes four years, on average to be successful, if the company is ever going to be successful. That’s four long, hard years to be successful. I’ve also found it takes two years, on average, to know if the business is viable and on the right track. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What else? What timelines have you seen to know if a startup is viable and if a business is a success?

One thought on “Four Years on Average for Startup Success

  1. Several of us started a company and we got to $1.3 million in year 2. If the product is 10x better than the alternative, then I think you can get to the M mark in several years. (ok, 10x is pretty high but you get the idea, right?)

    The problem is when it’s only 2x better, if even that. So many entrepreneurs think they are 2x better..and it’s not really 2x better..and even 2x usually doesn’t grab the buyer’s attention..and so no viral growth.

    10x is unusual and that’s the main reason, imo, that success with start-ups is also unusual.

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