How to F*ck Up Your Startup: The Science Behind Why 90% of Companies Fail, and How You Can Avoid It – Kim Hvidkjaer Book Summary

How to F*ck Up Your Startup: The Science Behind Why 90% of Companies Fail, and How You Can Avoid It – Kim Hvidkjaer | Free Book Summary

How to F*ck Up Your Startup: The Science Behind Why 90% of Companies Fail, and How You Can Avoid It – Kim Hvidkjaer

“How to F*ck Up Your Startup: The Science Behind Why 90% of Companies Fail–and How You Can Avoid It” by Kim Hvidkjaer is a practical guide to help entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls and mistakes that can lead to startup failure . In this book, Hvidkjaer draws on his own experience and research to frame the discussion around the science of startup failures. 

He identifies the top reasons why new ventures fail and offers actionable advice on how to avoid them. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to start or grow a business and wants to ensure their success.

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The Beginner

Not Starting

You can’t win a race you don’t start. Don’t let your startup go stagnant on the starting block. Get set. Take a breath. Run.Free book, podcast summaries

Impostor Syndrome

That momentary worry about not being qualified or enough of an expert to do something can be healthy. Letting it consume you to the point of inaction isn’t.

The Passion Pinch

Following your passion is not enough to achieve success in today’s highly competitive business environment, but without it, you’re completely screwed.

The stuff that fails


Imagine the circus act where a performer sets multiple plates spinning on their hands, shoulders, head, and knees. It’s fun to watch but hard to do.

Lone-Wolf Syndrome

As a solo founder, you have full control and all the profits, but also all the problems, losses, hardship, investments, footwork, and anxiety—and an increased risk of failure.

A Poor Business Plan

A surprising number of businesses fail simply because they fail to produce a meaningful business plan.

The mistakes we make

Idiot Industry

Your choice of industry directly affects your outcome. It’s better to be an idiot in an intelligent industry than intelligent in an idiot industry.

The Problem-Less Solution

Starting with the solution instead of the actual problem is a real problem. No problems to be solved equals no profits to be gained.

Terrible Timing

Who knows the cliché “timing is everything”? Like most clichés, this one is true. Understanding your industry gives you great timing insight.


Entrepreneurs have a tendency to think “too big” in the early stages of a startup, but many startups fail because the founders think too small too soon.

The customer and the product

Doppelganger Danger

Cloning usually fails. Copy all you want, and you’ll always be one step behind. Stay original with your startup and let the world copy you.

Customers—What Customers?

Founders and CEOs, meet your true boss: your customers. Your customer is in charge and can fire everybody in your company. Pay adequate attention to them.

Messed-Up MVP

Not having a minimal viable product makes your startup as likely to succeed as a team without a single Most Valuable Player.

More ways to screw up

Analysis Paralysis

Bogged down by statistics, research, and more? Stop and take a breather. Research is essential to making sound business decisions, but don’t let it stop you from making a decision at all.

Cheating and Ripping People Off

It sounds like a no-brainer, but the temptation to cheat your way to possible success is a real problem in the startup world. Spoiler alert: It never ends well.

Not Getting Funded

If you aren’t independently wealthy with money to burn, funding is something that cannot be ignored when creating a startup.

Money and Delegation

Convoluting Capital

There is such a thing as “too much money,” just as there is “not enough money.” Keeping capital simple is essential. A good startup can get funded. A bad startup can burn through capital.

The Cap-Table Capsize

There are only a few mistakes that cannot be undone. Messing with your cap table is one of those. Be the captain of your Cap-table.

Amateur Accounting

When it comes to running a business, if you don’t have a background in business accounting, save yourself a lot of time and hassle by finding an expert who can help.

The growing pains

The Big Bang Release

Releasing products with a bang might sound sexy, but in practice it is dangerous and might end up burning your business.

The Mashup

Mixing two good things does not necessarily make something great. In the world of startups, it’s actually quite often the opposite.

Identity Crisis

Founders fuss about identity. The fact is that most identities do not contribute or impair much. Spend your energy accordingly.

The Employees

The Flawed Founding Team

Surround yourself with people who are smart, hardworking, and can fill in your deficits. The best teams are complementary in nature rather than carbon copies.

Hiring Freeze

Not hiring can backfire. Startups often struggle with knowing when and who to hire and are reluctant to take the next step. Avoiding hiring has dire consequences.

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