What Makes Businesses Succeed or Fail?
Posted on 1st June 2017 in Business
Written by Freya Hughes
As Aaliyah once sang, “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” There’s a lot that can go wrong in your early business years so don’t be disheartened if things don’t go to plan. 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. Countless mistakes have got you to where you are now and your venture has been a learning curve since you began. 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. Can you imagine the world without lightbulbs? 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. Today’s lesson? Do not give up!
In light of this, perseverance can help us succeed, and depending on what your business is focused on, perseverance can change the world. We understand that you’ve put a significant amount of your time into making your business work, and if it still doesn’t pan out the way you hope it can be gut wrenching. On this occasion, it wasn’t mean to be but, when you have an entrepreneurial mindset, there is always, 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.
So, how can you ensure you don’t have to try 1000 times before succeeding? Well, if you aren’t already, get straight on the cloud. With automated systems in place, it’ll save you arduous hours in front of a spreadsheet so you can get the downtime that’s so important in these stressful times. You need to be looking ahead. It may seem obvious but so many entrepreneurs don’t focus their attention on where they want and need to be, instead finding themselves swamped with tasks and worries that should be delegated. 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 too. Keeping tabs on each KPI you’ve set up is a solid plan to know 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.
Are you hitting the mark?
There are countless reasons seasoned businesses cannot survive. Bearing in mind the rapid development of technology and connectivity, here are just 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.