If I only had [blank] my startup would take off

Many founders believe one key element will boost their startup, but real success stems from addressing a genuine, in-demand problem.

A.T. Gimbel
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October 31, 2023

Many founders believe one key element will boost their startup, but real success stems from solving a must-have problem with authentic demand

I hear some form of this statement a lot from founders. All they need is one thing to happen and the startup will begin rapidly growing. I love the optimism, but practically I rarely see that occur. Here are a few of the common ones I hear and thoughts on not falling into that fallacy.


Money is probably the most common one I hear. This could be at the idea stage; I have the best idea and just need money to start. It could be at the pre-seed/seed stage where you have an amazing vision and customers lined up, you just need money to capitalize on it. The reality is if you have found authentic demand, there are many ways to fund your startup without raising money. There are also many ways to show potential investors traction pre-revenue. Be careful assuming all you need is money.

[Head of Sales]

Another common theme from a founder is if they just hired a head of sales the customers and deals would start pouring in. The reality is as a founder you are the head of sales until you start closing some early deals. You need the lessons learned from talking to customers, refining the go-to-market strategy, and proving that you can sell the deals. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of money on a head of sales that will probably not work out, and you still won’t know if it didn’t work because of the person, idea, or value proposition.

[A specific product feature]

A third common theme from founders is that once they deliver this new product feature, they will magically start growing. While possible, I rarely see it work that way. Customers will always ask for lots of features, but that doesn’t mean that is the answer. They need solutions to problems. I have been burned many times by customers saying go build XYZ and then we will buy it; yet after I build that feature they still don’t buy. They really had no intention of buying.

So as a founder, be careful falling into one of these traps and believing that if you just had money, head of sales, or one more product feature everything would magically work out. Instead, really make sure you have uncovered a must-have problem with authentic demand.

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