Tag Archives: business failures

The Mystery of Business Births and Deaths in the U.S.

Business births and deaths are a mystery because it is nearly impossible to determine how many small businesses—whether they have employees or not—actually start up each year, and how many fail each year.

It appears that the following report is the only document available today that attempts to solve this mystery… while discussing the shocking truth about business starts and endings.

Continue reading The Mystery of Business Births and Deaths in the U.S.

How to Avoid the Most Common Reason for Business Failure

You can have the greatest idea in the world for a new product, or service, but if no one will buy it, you will not have a business—at least not for long.

In my last article, dealing with why businesses fail, I pointed out that almost 50% of the business failures studied by CB Insights failed because they tried to sell to a market that didn’t exist.

Even worse, 8 out of 10 reasons for failure had to do with wrong product, disconnected customers, or market problems. Or, in simpler terms, the startup founders built something that few people really wanted… a solution looking for a problem, or need, that just wasn’t there.

Continue reading How to Avoid the Most Common Reason for Business Failure

Is Failure Really a Good Thing?

End of TP Roll

When this represents the status of your business, you may want to revisit how well prepared you were to start your business in the first place.

I watched an interview with Richard Branson a short time ago, where he encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to “screw it—just do it.”

Well, every year over 6 Million would-be entrepreneurs seem to follow Branson’s advice to “screw it—just do it,” … and….

Most of them quickly fail! Continue reading Is Failure Really a Good Thing?

The American Dream–Can it Survive?

Business Survival Coverlg - 2015


“U.S. Business Data Worst in World—and Getting Worse.”

—Jerry Useem, Editor, Inc magazine – 1996

This was the title of an article written by Jerry Useem 19 years ago!—and the situation did indeed get worse.

Government agencies put most of their business statistical energies into only 17% of all businesses in the U.S. and come up with information that is generally a couple of years old—or older.

The business community is even worse, because they can’t even decide what the definition of a business is, let alone what’s happening to them.

It seems that very few people even care what happens to small businesses as long as new ones are always coming along to replace those that die… hopefully quietly and alone.

That’s why I created a report—Business Survival Reality: The Mystery of Business Births and Deaths in the U.S.—that I update annually.

In this report I try to make some sort of sense out of the lack of information, and the misinformation, published by government agencies, business pundits, and guru economists.

Usually, I release this report in early June, but this year I circulated it among some of my colleagues, and others, to preview and make comments before I released it to the public.

Generally, the response was one of disbelief—no way could the numbers be that high. They didn’t question my approach, just the magnitude of the problem.

If this report holds up under additional scrutiny, it would indicate that Donald Trump was right in one of his speeches when he said the “American Dream is dead.”

If you take the time to download a copy of the report and read it, you will likely be skeptical of the numbers as well—and I welcome any suggestions you might have as to a better approach than the one I took.

On the other hand, if the numbers in this report are anywhere near realistic, our country is throwing away a terrific opportunity to rebuild itself into the great nation it once was— where the “American Dream” was real… and attainable.

Or, we in the business community, in addition to the government, can continue to put our heads in the sand and let our national treasure of entrepreneurs continue to “twist in the wind.”

Download a pdf copy of the report here and then tell me what you think!


Entrepreneur–Either You Are, or You’re Not!

I’ve just about finished updating my annual Business Survival Reality report for 2015, and like prior years it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture for a lot of hopeful entrepreneurs.

Business Survival Cover - 2015The failure rate is higher than what anyone ever admits, and no one seems particularly concerned.

I know there are many specific reasons businesses fail, but I’m wondering if there is not some root cause to so many businesses turning out badly.

I wonder if there are too many people starting businesses who really shouldn’t try being an entrepreneur.

These thoughts were going through my head when I ran across an article by Mark Suster, a former successful entrepreneur turned Venture Capitalist.  It’s interesting to hear Mark’s views from both sides of the entrepreneurial issue—entrepreneur and investor.

You can read Mark’s entire post here, but I thought I would share some of his thoughts below on what being an entrepreneur is all about:

“Being an entrepreneur is about finding your inner self confidence:

  • To be constantly told “it won’t work” but to keep plugging away anyways.
  • To be kicked a lot and still keep standing.
  • To hide your demons so that you don’t scare the bejesus out of your employees.
  • To inspire others to join your cause when by all rational accounts they should not.
  • And having the cojones to have them join you anyways. Pottery Barn rule. You hire them, you own them now. As in you’re responsible for these lines on their future resume. Don’t fuck them up.
  • To swallow your stresses and insecurities and keep your optimistic game face on in the office. And on your home front. Maybe even try to believe it in your own head.
  • It’s about wanting the right speaking slot at an important conference and hounding the organizer until he lets you do it.
  • It’s telling your creditors that you need 60 extra days to pay. Please. Yes, most entrepreneurs will be nodding their heads right now. Not fun, hey? But that’s what it takes.
  • Firing? Hell, get used to it. It’s a necessity. You better be good at it. Develop a thick skin for it. Not put off the difficult fires. You don’t have the spare budget to suffer fools. Hire fast, fire faster.
  • Friday night in the office while others are at the bar. Sundays in the back of a plane. Center seat. Smelly dude next to you.
  • Investor emails. They are forwarding you yet another mother fucking link to an article about your competitors. And wondering why the hell are we not doing THIS like they are. Enough already!?!

Entrepreneurshit. It never ends. It’s not all glamour. It’s mostly not glamorous at all. It’s just something you have to do. Often because you’re unemployable.

Your impertinence would get you fired in 2 days for telling your boss he’s a fuck wit. And it’s why you probably will quit on day 366 after the acquisition.

You’re unemployable. You’re an entrepreneur.

It’s not for everybody and you shouldn’t feel bad if you aren’t one of those that chooses this life. You’ll probably be healthier and wealthier.”

Having been an entrepreneur and crisis manager over the last few decades, I can relate to everything Mark said—it’s a tough business and not everyone is suited for it.

So, I wonder … of the 6+ Million businesses that “disappeared” last year, how many of those business owners would have even started up a business if they had known exactly what it took to be a successful entrepreneur?

We’ll probably never know, but I strongly encourage anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur to do a personal self-analysis and think it over carefully. Very carefully.

* * * * *

My updated Business Survival Reality report will be online in the near future… keep watch at this blog for the announcement.

Better yet, visit the subscription box above and sign up to get an occasional post including the announcement about this release.

Are You Cut Out to Ride The Entrepreneurial Lion?



Toby Thomas, CEO of EnSite Solutions, has a favorite analogy where he compares being an entrepreneur to a guy riding a lion:

“People look at him and think, ‘This guy’s really got it together! He’s brave!’ And the man riding the lion is thinking, ‘How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?”‘   —Toby Thomas

When you really think about it, you can see the truth in Thomas’s analogy… it’s hard enough to start a business (getting on the lion), but then, when you can’t make the business work (controlling the lion), it is often impossible to get out of the business without losing everything you worked hard for (getting eaten by the lion).

Unfortunately, there seems to be way too many people who, with little knowledge, or forethought, take a running leap onto the lion’s back and then wonder: “What the hell do I do now?”

Well, it seems that most of the time they get eaten.

I believe that just jumping on the lion—while unprepared to ride it—is the main reason that over 5 Million businesses “disappear” every year in the U.S. Most of them simply “get eaten.”

If you are going to “get on the lion,” you had better know whether you belong up there—that you have the “right stuff” to be an entrepreneur… otherwise, you will be one of those who get eaten.

The truth is: not everyone can be a lion-tamer—just like not everyone can be an entrepreneur. In other words, not everyone who starts a business should be starting one.

Can You Ride the Entrepreneurial Lion?

So, how do you know if you should even be considering starting a business… that you are entrepreneurial material?

That is not as simple a question as it might seem. That’s why I’m in the process of researching and preparing a small book on entrepreneurship.

This upcoming book is not about how to start a business—this book is about whether, or not, you should start a business.

The book will cover: the real definition of an entrepreneur; what the characteristics of an entrepreneur are; and what it takes personally to become a successful entrepreneur… to control the lion. It will also include a self-administered test that can give you a good idea about your chances of starting a successful business.

If you are a current entrepreneur, or still aspiring to become a small business owner, and you want to know whether or not you should be riding the entrepreneurial lion, leave your email address in the subscription box at the upper right and I’ll let you know when the book becomes available.

Or, if you think you can ride the entrepreneurial lion without knowing how to tame it—go ahead, give it a try…  jump on……..   Here’s what you will be facing: