18 May 2023
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Startup Realities: Navigating Revenue Challenges

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


In the tumultuous ocean of startups, many secrets bob beneath the surface, concealed by frothy waves of entrepreneurship, innovation, and the tireless quest for the golden goose - success. However, dear reader, be warned - for every buoyant beacon of truth, a murky depth of misconception lurks nearby.

Joe Procopio's recent assertions "Why Startups Hit a Revenue Ceiling and What to Do When It HappensDon't freak out. This happens to every new business", in Inc. are exactly such murky depths we need to navigate today. Joe paints a sobering canvas, grimly asserting that no startup, however seemingly miraculous, hurtles from humble beginnings to cavernous coffers of cash overnight. He presents the startup landscape as a series of trials - a veritable Herculean labor teetering on the precipice of revenue ceilings.

Procopio's grim prognosis merits a rigorous examination. It warrants the application of a keen, discerning lens - the very lens we shall arm ourselves with in this critique. Let's embark on this journey, peering into the darkness of each allegation, illuminating it with the beacon of truth.

Personal Reach

Procopio's first bone of contention - startups maxing out their personal reach. He raises the specter of a startup exhausting its list of personal contacts, leading to skyrocketing customer acquisition costs. He boldly advocates a complete divestment from personal networks, an intriguing stance. While it is true that a purely personal network may lead to inflated initial success, the notion of completely jettisoning it seems akin to amputating the proverbial nose to spite the face.

Personal networks offer a safe harbor for nascent startups to cut their teeth, experiment, stumble, and rise. They provide the fertile ground for feedback and even early adopter validation. While not an everlasting reservoir, such networks should not be summarily dismissed but rather nurtured and organically expanded.

Early Adopters

Next, Procopio prophesizes the inevitable demise of early adopter enthusiasm. He cautions that each product's initial allure eventually fades, leaving behind a hollow shell of fickle consumer interest. Again, while we can acknowledge the inevitable cooling of novelty-induced infatuation, we must not capitulate to this bleak forecast.

Instead, astute startups must stay ahead of the curve, continuously innovating, adding value, and keeping their offerings relevant and engaging. The key here is evolution, not abandonment. It is not merely about stripping down messaging or overhauling the offering but understanding the core value proposition and continually enhancing it to retain and attract customers.


Regarding curiosity, Procopio presents a fatalistic view of startups providing low-benefit solutions to low-impact problems. He warns of diminishing customer engagement and a disheartening rise in acquisition costs. His proposed solution - accelerated external and internal engagement cycles.

While there is merit in heightening engagement, let's recognize the problem's deeper root- the solution's relevance and impact. Startups must accelerate engagement and intensify introspection, refining their product to solve high-impact problems and deliver substantial benefits truly. No amount of external engagement can gloss over an irrelevant or subpar product.

The First Mover

Finally, Procopio mourns the loss of the first-mover advantage as competitors begin to swarm. While competition is an inevitable part of any business landscape, it need not signal the death knell of a startup. The moat that protects a startup is not merely a consequence of being first but of being the best. The real power lies not in mere novelty but in relentless innovation, impeccable customer service, and a clear, compelling value proposition.

Let's clarify: this is not a sweeping dismissal of Procopio's insights. Rather, it is a reminder that the startup journey is not one marked by fatalistic ceilings or insurmountable challenges. It is a vibrant canvas of opportunities, trials, triumphs, and learning experiences. Yes, personal networks may dwindle, early adopter interest may wane, curiosity may ebb, and competitors may emerge. But let's not view these as the ghostly specters of startup doom. Instead, let's view them as continuous improvement, innovation, and growth milestones.

The startup journey isn't about surviving against the odds, it's about thriving in the face of challenges. It's about the tenacious pursuit of excellence, the unswerving commitment to add value, and the indefatigable spirit of entrepreneurship.

So, dear readers, and dear Joe, let's not dwell on the tales of overnight success, or lack thereof. Instead, let's celebrate the journey, the perseverance, the vision, and the relentless hustle that define the very essence of a startup. For, it is in this journey, with all its peaks and troughs, that true success lies.


In the startup world, as in life, there are no shortcuts, magic spells, or dirty little secrets. There's hard work, creativity, resilience, and the unwavering belief that we can make a difference.

So, bring on the challenges, the so-called 'revenue ceilings.' We're ready for them. After all, we're startups - breaking barriers and defying odds is what we do best.

Tyrone Showers