How NOT to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

Photo with gavel and business law contract.Posted by Mark Martella on Thu, Aug 02, 2012 @ 1:15 PM

One of the best business books ever written is the classic “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. If you have not read the book, I highly recommend it. A note of caution. The title is misleading. It should really be called “Think, Take Action and Grow Rich”. In one Chapter of his book, Hill offers the 30 reasons why most businesses fail. In my experience as an attorney practicing law for over 24 years, I have come across many of the same common downfalls I see in small businesses which lead to ultimate failure. While I don’t agree with all 30 of Mr. Hill’s reasons why businesses fail, I did pick my top 5 reasons from his list. Since space does not allow me to cover all 10, this will be a two part series with the first five presented below.

Top 5 Reasons Businesses Fail

While the following list is not all-inclusive of the reasons businesses fail, these are my top 5 reasons listed in no particular order:


1. Lack of ambition to aim above mediocrity. Too often, especially in this new economy, good enough is no longer good enough. Businesses that do not seek to go the extra mile in the new economy will ultimately be left behind when competing against companies that go above and beyond their customers’ expectations. Think Disney!


2. Lack of self-discipline. All entrepreneurs are excited about starting a new business. However, if they fail to implement systems and impose standards upon themselves personally, and their employees, that will allow them to provide a consistent, high value (not to be confused with cost), product or service to their customers, they are doomed for failure.


3. Procrastination. We all suffer from this at times. However, as a small business owner, procrastination can be the death of your business, especially when it comes to marketing. For example, with regard to the Chamber, many businesses do not take advantage of the marketing opportunities provided by the Chamber in a systematic fashion, such as providing information in our weekly e-newsletter, Business Online, or regularly attending events such as our breakfasts, lunches and after hour business card exchanges. Putting this type of marketing off by saying: “I’ll do it next week”, may lead to “next week” being the last week that you’re open.

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4. Negative personality. Think about it. Do you like dealing with someone who’s always down and is always negative in their thoughts and the prospects of the future. It is very easy to join in with the naysayers about how difficult it is in this new economy. However, if you wish to succeed, your mindset must change and you must take control of your future and not be controlled by the negative thoughts of others. As the leader of your business, you must convey a positive attitude to your employees if you want them to convey it to your customers.


5. Wrong selection of associates in business. If I were putting these in order of importance, this would be number one. Too often I have clients come to my office who want to form a business venture and they tell me, literally, that they only know each other for a couple of weeks. Those of you who may have been in business partnerships for a long time know that it is just like a marriage which requires give and take and excellent communication skills. Good communication between partners is essential, and a common belief in the mission of the business and how it will proceed is vital. While different personalities and different skill sets can enhance the business, the differences must complement each other and not result in constant agitation and conflict.

First 5 of 10 Reasons Businesses Fail

This is the first five of ten reasons your business could fail. Look for the next five in the July Newsletter. I hope the foregoing will give you something to think about with your business. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me, and I’ll be happy to discuss these with you further.

Originally published in the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce June newsletter. Mark Martella, Esq., is the Managing Member of the Martella Law Firm, P.L. with offices in Port Charlotte and Sarasota.


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