Startup Tip 51: Set a failure point and stick to it

This is a guest post by Carolyn Kane.

Failure isn’t something you want to think about for your startup, but it’s going to be essential to your success. I have never seen a startup that didn’t have at least one failed strategy or idea.

The people who are still in business benefitted from their failures in one way or another. Failures give you useful data. They tell you that something doesn’t work, and you can probably figure out why. Then you can use that information to guide you in moving forward.

Consider setting failure points for crucial elements of your business. If a program or aspect of your business isn’t working after a certain amount of investment or time then it maybe time for change. Setting a failure point will alert you to the need for change, rather than letting something that isn’t working continue longer than it needs to. The variables will be different for every business, but you’ll be able to figure out how much experimentation your business can support before it’s time to change or risk going by the wayside.

A failure point should be specific and may be related to:

  • Time (We must reach 10,000 subscribers in the next 6 months using our current marketing strategy) or
  • Milestones (We need to sign contracts with X, Y and Z suppliers to make this startup work.)

Either way, the best way to use them is to make sure you are hitting the key milestones and key success factors for your startup when you need to be.

Some entrepreneurs even set failure points for the business as a whole, and if it doesn’t work by then they get out completely. Perseverance is important, but knowing when to cut your losses is just as valuable.


Set a failure point for something in your startup. Identify one or two of your key success factors or milestones. Pick out your latest business strategy, action plan, or anything else and set a failure point for it.  If you hit the failure point, evaluate why and decide whether to switch to a new plan or strategy or modify the old one. It’s that simple.

Carolyn Kane is a guest blogger and business expert. She helps people find the right order management software when she isn’t writing.


  1. How do you know if the failure point you set is the right one – if you are new to business?

    For example, when you mention a target of 10,000 subscribers in the next 6 months…what if that was an unrealistic target from the start, and ,say, 1000 was more realistic.

    I see, I could fail before I have given things a chance, if my targets were unrealistically high (and I did not know it because I am new to business)….

    I hope you get what I mean in this comment..:(

  2. Failure points are something that a lot of business, entrepreneurs, and all-around webmasters neglect to think about. It’s really idiotic, too – if you keep trying the same thing over and over and expect a different result each time, you most likely aren’t going to get anywhere. Imagine where we’d be if those thousand attempts at a working lightbulb consisted of the same test over and over – you know what I mean?

    I am all for A/B testing, and so I make sure everything I do is tested in full on small scales, then move it up to larger scale testing. If it doesn’t work and convert during a specific time period, it has to go. Great stuff!

    • I agree that testing is a great strategy – both for the overall concept of the business and the individual elements. It doesn’t have to be a tech thing either. Talking to potential customers is a way of testing your idea.

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