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But there really were (and there still are) good reasons for making energy a priority. And the truth about cleantech is more complex and more important than government failure. Most cleantech companies crashed because they neglected one or more of the seven questions that every business must answer:
1. The Engineering Question Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?
2. The Timing Question Is now the right time to start your particular business?
3. The Monopoly Question Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
4. The People Question Do you have the right team?
5. The Distribution Question Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
6. The Durability Question Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?
7. The Secret Question Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

We’ve discussed these elements before. Whatever your industry, any great business plan must address every one of them. If you don’t have good answers to these questions, you’ll run into lots of “bad luck” and your business will fail. If you nail all seven, you’ll master fortune and succeed. Even getting five or six correct might work. But the striking thing about the cleantech bubble was that people were starting companies with zero good answers—and that meant hoping for a miracle. It’s hard to know exactly why any particular cleantech company failed, since almost all of them made several serious mistakes. But since any one of those mistakes is enough to doom your company, it’s worth reviewing cleantech’s losing scorecard in more detail.
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