50 Reasons Why Some Businesses Fail While Others Succeed
By George Meszaros
Cofounder – Success Harbor successharbor.com
THREE PART SERIES: PART TWO
Why is it that so many businesses fail while so few succeed?
One of the great mysteries of entrepreneurship is why businesses fail. Some people start one successful business after another while others fail to succeed.
Why some businesses fail while others succeed?
The worst part about a failing business is that the entrepreneur is unaware of it happening until it is often too late. It makes sense because if the entrepreneur really knew what he was doing wrong, he might have been able to save the business. Some entrepreneurs live in a land of denial while others are unaware of their mistakes.
One thing for sure, a business almost always fails because of the entrepreneur.
“It’s not the plan that is important, it’s the planning.” Dr. Graeme Edwards
There are over 28 million small businesses in the United States, according to the SBA.
It’s an impressive number. The sad reality is that only about 50% of them survive. What’s worse is that only about one-third survive 10 years or more. The life of an entrepreneur is unforgiving. It is a constant challenge. There are many moving parts. Any one of them could put you out of business.
Businesses fail for many reasons. The following list includes some of the most common reasons:
If you are serious about making it as entrepreneurs, focus on the following:
19 – Make a plan – It all begins with planning. The biggest mistake many entrepreneurs make as they start their ventures is that they don’t sit down and write a business plan. The goal is to keep it concise. Don’t treat it like a business school project. Leave writing a 50,000-word business plan to academics. Let them waste their time. You can do a great business plan in one or two pages. There are some great books on business plans such as “The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan” and “Successful Business Plan“.
Your business plan should include the following:
20 – Core values – Your core values are the fundamental beliefs that drive your business. They are your guiding principles that should remain constant. Even as your company grows your core values should remain the same. Core values can also serve as a moral compass. Some of the more common core values are integrity, trust, excellence, respect, responsibility, and teamwork.
Don’t allow your core values to become empty words, make them part of your culture.
21 – Mission statement – A brief statement that defines why your company exists. Your corporate reason for being. It describes your target market and the services/products you offer. If you have done it right, your mission statement, in just a few sentences, will communicate the essence of your business to your business and to the world.
22 – Who are your customers – If you are going to succeed in business you will have a clear definition of your customer. It is not an abstract idea. It is something that can be expressed in numbers. For example, if your target customers are family law attorneys, you have to be able to put a number on it. For example, there are 175,000 (fictional number) family law attorneys in the USA and they are our customers.
23 – What is your product/service – It’s key to have a clear definition of the services you offer. Without a clear definition, you will be unable to effectively develop, market, and sell your services.
24 – Involve your customers in product development – Most businesses that fail create products/services without involving their customers. If you are serious about success, you will build your products with your customers. Businesses that fail build products based on assumptions.
25 – How will you sell and market your product/service – Marketing and selling your service could be one of your biggest business challenges. A sales and marketing plan is a must. Set measurable goals. Create systems to manage the process.
Proper preparation doesn’t require a 100-page formal business plan. The keyword is “proper,” not “planning.” If you do everything in your power to properly plan your business, you increase your chances for success. Don’t confuse planning with avoiding action or paralysis analysis. No amount of planning is a substitute for action.
“No matter what one does, regardless of failure or success, the experience is a form of success in itself.” Jack Ma, billionaire founder of Alibaba
Your first action item is to write your business plan. Completing your business plan will give you an opportunity to process your idea in detail. One of the best things you can do is to collect your thoughts before you make a real commitment to starting your business. If you aren’t passionate about writing your business plan, it’s unlikely that you’ll get passionate about your business either.
One day you might think of a product that could revolutionize life on earth as we know it. You might dream up something so great that no one ever thought of before. The reality is that most successful businesses are without revolutionary ideas. Instead, they modify or improve well-established products or services.
Must-Have Business Plan Components
If you don’t prepare a business plan, your initial enthusiasm will fade and you will fail.
26 – In the end, enthusiasm is not enough to succeed. It takes much more than that. You need to research your market, your competition, the financial feasibility of your concept, and more. As you fight through the battles of making your dream come true, you need to be able to go back to read and re-read your business plan. The concepts laid down in your business plan will help you to convince your bank to give you the loan you need, or to determine the best marketing strategy for your business. Don’t be emotional when you prepare your business plan. Treat it as a business process with goals and deliverables. Once you complete it, ask yourself, “Would I invest in this company?” Remember, you are going to have to convince others to support your idea. Bankers, corporate buyers, investors, partners, and the like will look at your business based on facts. Their decision is not going to be based on emotion. When creating a written business plan you give yourself a chance to think about your idea thoroughly. As you put your ideas in writing, you tend to give them more thought. You might think writing a business plan is boring, or a waste of time. Truly, it should be one of the most exciting projects you could ask for. You are writing your future.
27 – You are accountable – Many businesses fail because people treat them like hobbies. From day one treat your business as a business. Treat yourself as an employee. Set measurable goals and hold yourself accountable. If you only plan to work in your business a couple of hours a week, you can’t expect great results. Owning your own business requires focus and commitment. Educate yourself about the wide range of options and technologies. You can’t expect to get an ounce more out of your business than what you’ve put into it. If you are only willing to put in a few hours a week, expect to get a few hours a week of income. There are no shortcuts.
Entrepreneurs can stay accountable several ways:
28 – Write down your goals. Keep your goals in front of you and keep coming back to them, at least once a month.
29 – Build an advisory board.
30 – Join a peer advisory group. You will get feedback from fellow entrepreneurs. The best kind of peer advisory group is where your business is the smallest business. You definitely don’t want to be the largest or most successful business of your group. When you are the smallest you will be pushed harder to catch up to the others in your group.
31 – Find a coach. Try to work with a coach who has already built a successful business.
32 – Find an investor, an angel or venture capitalist.
33 – Forget the idea, take action – You should never start a business based on a great idea. An idea is just that: an idea. It’s worthless. It is not going to help you succeed in business. Ideas won’t do; you need action to succeed. Wantrepreneurs are full of ideas that never result in action. Entrepreneurs are action takers.
THREE PART SERIES: PART THREE OF “50 REASONS…” WILL APPEAR IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SOUTHERN OREGON BUSINESS JOURNAL
By George Meszaros email@example.com