What Makes Businesses Succeed or Fail?

Posted on 1st June 2017 in Business

Written by Freya Hughes

We’re always preaching the importance of forecasting your figures, no matter how established your business may be. In this blog we’ll look at ways to get your business looking healthy, and where you might be going wrong.


“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” – Thomas Edison on his perseverance inventing the lightbulb

By this point in your career, you’re aware of the risk factors and statistics that accompany starting a business. Your venture has been a learning curve since you began, and you’ve had to reroute your plan more than once. But what separates you from the pack is your unrelenting passion for success. So, how are you going to translate this passion into practice?

We might not have lightbulbs (in the way we know them at least) had Edison not kept trying to get it right. He quickly tired of using the known and ‘traditional’ method of inventing, so forged his own path – which is what we encourage entrepreneurs to do ourselves. What if Steve Jobs had failed and Microsoft hadn’t bailed Apple out? Life, as we know it, would look very different.

Let’s take Disney Corp, one of the biggest and most recognised brands in the world, as a real world example. After several major financial setbacks in the 1920s and 30s, the company was in $4 million of debt (in today’s terms that’s about $51 million). It seemed like a lost cause, especially after losing the rights to popular Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Fortunately, the company had one last trick up its sleeve. As a final push to survive, Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1938. This blockbuster saved the company, earning enough revenue to skyrocket the company out of bankruptcy.

Perseverance can help us succeed and depending on what trajectory you’re on, perseverance can change the world. Sometimes things aren’t meant to be but, when you have an entrepreneurial mindset, there is always next time. 

Keep in mind that failure itself can create some of the handiest inventions around. Hello, plastic and penicillin. If Alexander Fleming hadn’t failed to clean up his equipment – which could have been disastrous – we wouldn’t have the latter. And plastic? Two accidents changed the way we live and work: Charles Goodyear combined rubber and sulfur and accidentally put it on the stove for a period of time. Meanwhile, John Wesley Hyatt accidentally spilled a bottle of collodion, only to discover that when it dried it formed a flexible-yet-strong material. What a nice way to have your lightbulb business moment!

Who is the most likely to succeed?

Even big businesses like KFC didn’t have an easy start. The famous secret chicken recipe was rejected over a 1000 times before any restaurant decided to try it out. The Colonel founded KFC when he in his sixties, after a long life of working in different jobs.

In terms of financial success – and security – those who succeed are those on the cloud. With automation in place, you’ll save hours in front of spreadsheets, able to see a snapshot of where your business stands at a glance. Platforms like ours give you the option of collaboration, which enables you to delegate such things as staff hitting targets, therefore frees you up to continue paving the way to business success. Be a strong leader and prepare to trust your staff.

Using cloud-based technology will enable to you track each and every control factor in your business. Keeping tabs on each KPI you’ve set up shows you if any area of your business is starting to get into trouble. While KPIs in the traditional sense are important to measure, what we think is even more crucial is to measure them as Key Predictive Indicators, as projecting your future figures will enable you to see exactly what path you’re on.

You’ll be able to tweak the discourse of your business before anything goes wrong. If you have no idea what’s going on in the present, get tracking and then evolve your metrics to be future-focused. Have a look at our KPI Library if you need some inspiration.

When it comes down to it, this is your show. Make sure you’re leading in a way that will reduce the chances of mistakes and burnout

Don’t forget your downtime. Have a look at what could help you that you’d not necessarily thought of before. Studies suggest that reading before bed will help you sleep. Two birds, one stone.

Are you hitting the mark?

With an abundance of competitors on the market, it’s important to stand out. Bearing in mind the rapid development of technology and connectivity, here are a few of the main reasons that businesses fail:

  • Not having a product or service customers need
  • Not being versatile enough
  • Growing the business too quickly
  • Not planning properly
  • Not seeking help from an advisor
  • Leadership failure
  • Not learning from your mistakes
  • Ignoring market trends

If you’re still concerned about how to cope with misfortune in business, we recommend you seek support from your advisor. They’re there to help you navigate the rough seas ahead and can sit down and strategise with you. There’s a lot of help out there just waiting for your call so be brave and ask for support when you feel you need it.

Remember, failure is often a pre-cursor to success and will teach you valuable lessons in life and business.

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