Businesses fail not because they do but we do. Businesses will continue to exist because they have sales on their ship. It is us that causes them to fail because we are unable to stir them in the right direction. Ken gives the top five reasons why businesses fail because of us, giving out some essentials on how you can overcome them. Businesses can grow and it takes a great leader or owner to see the goals through.
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Top 5 Reasons We Fail
I was going to call this episode The Top Five Reasons Businesses Fail which is what it’s about, but I decided to change it to The Top Five Reasons Why We Fail because I don’t believe businesses fail. Businesses could go on in perpetuity because businesses have sales on their ship, rudders and steering wheels. We fail to move the rudder and adjust the business, thus the business goes under. I’m going to give my top five reasons why we fail. Most of these are business-centric. One or two of these nuggets is somewhat more of a personal reason we fail as people. I’m going to start there because I did something about this. Number one, we underestimate what we can do and we gravely overestimate what we will do physically, meaning the effort.
I was hampered with this in my 30s. I was so sick and tired of reselling myself that I can do it, I’m a good person, I can make it through, we can get this thing going and I had a very low self-image. In high school, I didn’t date anybody. I didn’t drink a beer. I buried my head in athletics because I was incredibly shy. The long and short of it is when I got into my 30s, I hadn’t completely gotten through that, so I had some self-image issues. I don’t know if I read a book or was that a seminar, but somebody recommended verticals of encouragement. I don’t know any way to describe it other than what I ended up building, and it helped me. Because of phase one, the top reason people fail is they underestimate what they can do, and they overestimate what they will do. I’ve never had a problem overestimating what I will do because I’m a workaholic, but I still gravely underestimate what I can do.
Back in the day, in my second office, I built three framed-wooden display pieces. They were one foot wide and three feet tall. In the first one, I displayed it in my own office so nobody saw it but me, my high school accolades. My second vertical was my college accolades and my third one was my accolades in business when I started at 22 years old to 32. For high school, I ended up leaving that high school with the fifth most wins in school’s history in wrestling. Those records got blown away, but my football records still stand 25 years later. As a running back, I have the most yards in the season, most yards per carry and most yards in a game. I have some defensive records also. I have some stuff in high school to be proud of.We underestimate what we do and overestimate what we will do. Click To Tweet
In college, it’s the same thing. I played for a hall of fame coach named Gordie Gillespie. He was the coach of Rudy in the movie Rudy. I have some records at the college. I did some other cool things. I was the first graduate with a graphic design degree so I help them start that program. I did some cool stuff. I put some clippings up and I’m in who’s who in high school and college athletics. At 22 to 32 in business, even in my first ten years, I did some good stuff. We grew rapidly. By the time I was 26, I had 30 people working for us over 40 years old and I was 25 or 26 years old. I say this because at 32 years old, I was in a depression. I had severe depression because I felt unworthy of growing further in my business. It was awful. It was suffocating.
I had to go to my office every day and remind myself and resell myself that I can do this, I can grow another 50% or I can double the company again even though we had just doubled five out of the last seven years. We were growing like crazy in the ‘90s and yet I had tremendous self-image issues and I would severely underestimate what I could do. Those three columns, I can’t tell you how many times I woke up in the morning and for almost an hour I would drink two to three coffees and keep rereading the accomplishments I had personally done. It would take about an hour sometimes to resell myself.
It’s almost like before a wrestling match, I put the headphones on and jump up and down like a crazy man and psych myself up and go kick somebody’s butt. I had to do that at 32 years old. I don’t do that much anymore. I don’t need it, but I still have an egotistical wall. I’ve got Inc. 5000 massive plaques from 2013, 2015 and 2016. I’m staring at a full page ad. Somebody honored my book with Brian Tracy, Against the Grain. It was in USA Today. I had a letter from Inc. Magazine editor, “Congratulations. Three-time Inc. 5000 and bestselling author 2014, bestselling author Hall of Fame.” I still need to remember, I am still underestimating what I can do and I’m going to still overestimate what I will do.
Number one of the top five reasons of why we fail is we underestimate what we can do. What do you have in place that reminds yourself you are a good person, you have previously accomplished many things and you’ve done great things? What are they? 80% of self-talk is negative. Why not put something positive reminding yourself that you can do it? Number two, we don’t buy into the law of entropy. I haven’t talked about this in a long time. My early episodes were sprinkled with this law. The Law of Entropy says anything manmade or God-made is built to go from order to disorder. Our bodies are completely breaking down at all times. If we leave a car in the desert and go back 80 years, is it a car? No, it’s a chunk of metal. Everything is breaking down. What breaks down more than anything? It is our businesses because there’s competition. There are forces of nature. No good deed goes unpunished. You hire someone because you’re trying to help them and then they bite you in the butt. Business is a constant push against you. We have to push against business.
My life’s work centers around spreading Jack Welch of GE Capital’s gospel of S-curves. S-curves account for more jobs than any business model in world history. It’s why my very first blog was on S-Curves. It’s why the book I’m in the bestselling author hall of fame for with Brian Tracy is on S-curves, my chapter 39. The Law of Entropy says, “If you are not continually looking out for your next revenue stream, your next product launch, you’re going to be in the buggy whip business.” Buggy whip business was great for thousands of years until the car was invented and now the car put the horse in a carriage out of business. How many people do buggy whips anymore? Were you ever going to fight that? I used to rent VHS tapes. We made so much money in the ‘90s renting VHS tapes. Does anybody rent VHS tapes anymore? How about even DVDs?
At the end of my career in that industry, we shifted to DVDs. Does anybody outside of maybe one or two family video stores still physically rented DVD? Even if they do, are they going to be here in five years? No way. These companies better embrace an S-curve. If you don’t know what that means, you might want to read episode number one. Number three of the top five reasons why we fail comes from Tony Robbins. He’s the only person of record who has counseled each of the last five presidents. When he was asked, “Tony, why do you think you’re the only person alive that has counseled each of the last five presidents?” He says, “It’s simple. I don’t mince words. When I talk to a leader, I explain clearly that every leader is managing two businesses. Number one, the business they’re in. Number two, the business they’re becoming.” I believe failure stems from number two. They stop managing or have no idea to manage the business they are becoming.The law of entropy says anything man-made or God-made is built to go from order to disorder. Click To Tweet
Because of the internet, business is now changing in dog years. What used to take five to ten years to change the landscape of business, now happens in nine to eighteen months. Our motto at our company since 1992 is we can grow any business in any industry at any time. We’ve always believed that. We believe that now more than anything. We can say that because we know we can get into any business. We can ask a series of questions and we can stack an S-curve. We know right now based on what our model is at Income Store, anybody can cause if they have a couple of bucks. We can dig in and help them at an S-curve online based either on their existing business. If they want to go in a completely different industry, within 48 hours, we can suss that out. Number one, I’m clear. I tell them, “You better be good managing the business you’re in, but you better be better at managing the business you’re becoming.
The fourth reason we fail in my opinion, close to 50% of the businesses now are missing two of the five M’s. Thriving businesses operate under and through five M’s, you need to have a great market. Is there a market for your product? You better have a working business model. Does it physically work? You better have good management. You better have great management. You better have some money. You don’t need money in the beginning, but once you get cooking, you do need some money. Money has gas in the tank and money is air to breathe. Without it, you’re toast and you better have a good message.
Here’s what I suggest everybody do. Take out a piece of paper, write down the five M’s, Market, Model, Management, Money, Message and give yourself a grade zero through ten or one through five or whatever you want to do. Give yourself a grade in each M. Here are my guesses. I’m going to think that the bulk of the challenges start due to the lack of two of the M’s and I’m even going to go further. I’m going to guesstimate that you might be lacking in money or you might be lacking in the combination of money and message or management and message. If you think you’re the leader and you’re the manager and you don’t have any other outside management, I’m talking to the senior businesses out there, you’ve got to be careful there because you need the next generation’s new ideas because that’s the next client or customer.Business is a constant push against you. Click To Tweet
If I have to pick, it’s a money message issue and it’s more messaging than money because I don’t see a clear amount of messaging delivered through and on top of multiple channels at the same time. We, as a company, have a consistent message that goes out on stages on social platforms like Facebook and through radio and it’s a clear message. It’s delivered across multiple modalities, so it hits people in a number of different ways. It builds brand equity and tone. Number five, I’m going to jump ahead. This is the biggest killer of them all. It kills more businesses than one through four combined. No actual goals or you have goals, but they’re not written. They’re not told to people, they’re not posted and the kiss of death, they’re not measured. I believe the lack of setting numeric goals and stating them publicly is the killer.
Here’s the question. If you don’t have what I’m about to say, this could resurrect or grow your company faster than anything. Do you have something in place where somebody is in control of a division of a company or the whole thing and stands in front of a group of people in your company or with your mentors or people that hold you accountable to where you or someone else publicly states, “Here’s what we did in volume. Here’s what we’re going to do this month and why. Here are the changes we’re going to make this month based on last month’s volume. Here’s why we’re going to hit this new number?” The only definition of a successful meeting is the booking of another meeting, do you have on the calendar the next two to three months of when you’re going to stand up again and say the exact same thing? “Here’s what we did last month in volume. Here are the numbers, here’s how they came in, here’s what we’re going to do this month in volume and here’s why.” The why is the tweaking or the difference because of what happened with last month’s number. Last month’s numbers go back to number one.
You might have underestimated what you could do or you might have overestimated what you will do. Thus, the numbers that you predicted to your accountability partners, your board of directors, your management, your whole employees or even your spouse or to yourself. Here’s the key. These goals have to be stated out loud. They have to be written, they have to be measured and they have to be held accountable. I’m going to go on a limb. 80% of businesses run now and they don’t have actual stated goals. They’re not publicly stated, they’re not written, they’re not held accountable and then people wonder why they don’t have any money, why they’re not hitting their goals. Number five, no actual goals or the goals aren’t written. They’re not told, they’re not posted and they’re not measured. I’m hoping this helps.
If you could do me a huge favor. I got a great email from a gal in Australia that said, “Thanks for the podcast on nonprofits.” It reminded me that I’m very close to hundred reviews in iTunes. I was just told for the second time that if I get to 100, a lot of the people at iTunes notice that and they often throw podcasts back into the New and Newsworthy section, which puts the podcast in front of the whole world. If you’re reading this blog and you don’t mind if I could ask a favor if you could go to a laptop or a desktop computer, this does not work on an iPad or a phone. It’s got to be done from an actual computer. It would mean a ton to me if you could open up iTunes on an actual computer. Go to the Ken Courtright podcast or put in Today’s Growth and throw in an honest review and see if we can move me up the needle a little bit and get closer if not over 100 reviews. I truly hope this helps. The top five reasons why we fail. Take care.
- Against the Grain
- S-Curves – Previous episode
- iTunes – Today’s Growth | Growing Business Today podcast