How To Be One of the Small Businesses That Succeed

By Brian Sutter

There are a hundred questions to ask yourself before you start a business, but there’s one that turns more people away than any other:

What if I fail?

It’s a scary question, for sure. But legitimate. Most businesses do fail. But it’s not quite as bad as some sources say. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a new business has about an 80% of making it in the first year, and about a 50/50 chance of making it to its fifth year.

80% is fairly good odds… unless your retirement and your family home is on the line. Which is why most people are cautious. It may be why you’re still on the fence.

But what about failing?

What actually would happen…. if you failed?

This is easier to answer than most of us want to admit. We just don’t like the answer. If you fail, you’ll probably:

  • Be broke, or nearly broke, or in debt (this is tough, but it won’t kill you).
  • Be exhausted and emotionally, possibly physically drained (this also sucks, and is not great for your health, but also won’t kill you).
  • Be far wiser than you are now.
  • Have a slew of skills, experience, and know-how that you don’t have now.

Two of those are not so fun. The other two… well maybe they aren’t fun, but they’re valuable. They have market value. A good failure may well teach you more than you learned in college. So if you do fail, and you end up back in the interview chair, you’ll be a more impressive candidate.

But enough worst case scenarios, okay?

What if you could avoid failure?

Now that you know failure won’t kill you, what if you could take some concrete actions and make some flexible plans that would drastically reduce your likelihood of crashing?

Sound like a good use of time? Sound like a smart thing to do before you borrow tends of thousands of dollars or cash out your 401K, and put months, possibly years of sweat equity into your fragile business idea?

Thought so. So this is what you’re gonna do:

  1. Understand that just because you’re good at what you do doesn’t mean you’ll be good at running a business.

This is the #1 rude awakening for most new business owners. They think that because they were a superstar … accountant, masseuse, writer, attorney – whatever – that they should just be able to go run their own shop.

The reality is that running a business requires it’s own set of skills. Those skills are very different than the skills you’ve honed becoming a superstar professional.

Succeeding with your business will require you to get good at those new skills – or you’ll both need to get good at outsourcing those parts of your business and you’ll need to have enough cash on hand to outsource those tasks. And when you’re first starting out, cash can be really tight.

So what’s the way around this? Any one of these three tactics will work, but trying all of them is even better: