Original question from Quora:
What are some startup ideas that frequently fail?
That is, year after year, there are entrepreneurs who attempt variations of that idea despite nobody having ever succeeded in that space before?
There are many, many startup ideas that frequently fail. I’d go so far as to say the actual number of startup ideas that fail is something like 93%. Or maybe it’s even higher.
In fact, if you think about the kind of ideas that fail as compared to what makes a business success, most startups are doomed to fail.
That might sound crazy, but it will make a lot more sense if I tell you a story.
There once was a city sounded by farmland and countryside. Every week it would hold a farmer’s market where farmers and merchants from all around would sell their goods to the people in the marketplace.
People came from miles around both to sell their produce, livestock, and other products, but many also would travel to the city to have an opportunity to trade and shop for whatever they needed.
It was a popular event and each week’s marketplace gathering was the talk of the town.
One week, a strange man appeared selling solid gold coins. He had what seemed to be a bottomless treasure chest full of solid gold coins and he was selling them for $1 each.
It seemed quite strange to the people, and quite frankly it seemed to be too good to be true. But, people tested the gold coins and they were real gold through and through…
This was the deal of the century!
As you could imagine, before long the man was swamped with customers. When someone is selling solid gold coins for $1, word travels fast.
The strange man couldn’t keep up with demand and even after the marketplace closed for the day, people followed him around, begging him to sell more coins. It didn’t matter if he was eating or sleeping or wanting to enjoy some peace and quiet. Everybody wanted to buy gold coins.
The other merchants took notice and they thought it was unfair. How dare this strange man practically give away gold coins! Nobody was interested in their food or clothes or anything else that day.
The gold coins were so popular that almost nothing else was sold! People were taking every dollar they could find and buying up gold coins and there were no dollars left for any of the other merchants.
It was utterly remarkable.
And after that day, the strange man with the gold coins was never seen again. The town became the richest, most prosperous city for miles and miles. People flocked there to trade for the gold coins. An entire economy was built around those gold coins.
Most startup ideas are the opposite of the strange man selling solid gold coins and that is why they frequently fail.
Be the man selling solid gold coins.
P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.