This is the answer I provided on Quora….
I am going to stick my neck out on this one….
Most of the answers provided are brilliant and thought provoking – but I think there is something even more fundamental that we should reflect on.
Let me give an analogy of something not all that hi-tech as one understands the term. I heard this story from John Vamos, who runs a successful business coaching company in Australia.
There was once a baker, let’s call him Bob, who worked for a bakery. He was really an outstanding baker, his cakes were so good that people would queue up outside the bakery to buy his cakes before they got sold out. All the customers knew him personally and knew that it was he who produced those wonderful cakes.
But he was just an employee. He got his monthly salary, some annual bonuses and several pats on the back from the owners. The owners did not really value his services as they should have and did not have a strategy to keep him happy and loyal to the bakery.
One fine day, it dawned on Bob that he deserved better. Was he not the one to whom the business owed its success? Weren’t his cakes the main draw for that bunch of loyal customers?
So he decided to start on his own, something like techies tend to do.
He found a great location, set up the best baking equipment for the kitchen and then, one fine day, he started.
Next day onwards, he was busy doing everything that he was not good at…procurement, HR, Admin, advertising, interior decoration, furniture and fittings, trouble shooting etc…The one thing he did not have time for was baking, his passion.
As with those tech startups, one year later, he was once again working for someone else and had a pile of debt that he needed to settle.
Moral of the story – all my very own conclusion – like a lot of tech geniuses and entrepreneurs out there, who unfortunately contribute to the tech startup failure statistics – HE SHOULD HAVE HAD THE COURAGE TO RECRUIT A BOSS….
A lot of my techie friends do just what the baker did…there is nothing demeaning about being a great technical director in your own company and having to report to a managing director who knows how to run the business. They can still own the business through the shareholding but they should realise and accept that it is perfectly all right to let someone else manage the overall business while they concentrate on what they are good at and come up with great products.
To my mind, that is the Numero Uno reason for tech failures…..