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Why do most businesses fail on an epic scale?

Why do some businesses flourish and have consumers banging down their doors, while similar companies sit idly by, withering away? Let’s talk about the obvious, yet frequently overlooked ingredients of a successful business.

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hard work

hard work

Insights from 43 years in business

Sometimes we make things more complicated then need be, don’t we? The ultra popularity of being online and in business has found half of us wondering how to market our product/service, while the other half thinks they have it wired enough to show us how. Clearly, integrity must be the cornerstone of any business, but assuming that’s in place, what are the common denominators shared by long term successful businesses? 43 years ago today, I was given the answer to that question in no uncertain terms. It’s not a ‘secret.’ It’s not high tech, as it was as true a few thousand years ago as it was that day in 1969, and is now.

There are many, but the most important common denominators are the results delivered, along with the knowledge and expertise required to produce those results. Yeah, I know, hard work. But if anyone needs to be told hard work is a requirement of long term business success, they’re not cut out to be a business owner. Fair enough?

Many just reading that short paragraph are scoffing derisively. I get it — ‘Duh!’ right? But take a step back and review all of the businesses you’ve chosen to supply you with the product and service results you require. Are they all delivering you superlative results? Are you ecstatic with the value you’re receiving for the money? In your own view, how many businesses do you know of, whether or not you use them, that demonstrate superior knowledge and expertise while generating excellent results routinely? Go ahead, take your time, no rush. It’s a depressingly low percentage, isn’t it?

What’s the key question?

How do things work, exactly? That is, given the results you plan to deliver, how do you make them happen? Again, don’t scoff. Simple principles are often extremely difficult to execute. For instance, in my town, San Diego, you can’t swing a dead cat without hittin’ a small neighborhood taco shop. They’re definitely not all created equal. In some it doesn’t matter what you order, it’s going to be exquisite. In others, not so much. How hard is it to make a carne asada burrito? A rolled taco? See what I mean? Unless you’re providing a service requiring a Ph.D from M.I.T., there are probably thousands competing for the same customers. The reason the top 5% are where they are is due to their ability to do what the other 95% are doing, but measurably better — and probably in many ways, on several levels.

They’re able to do this for a few Captain Obvious reasons.

  • Generally speaking, they’re far more knowledgable about what matters, top to bottom, than their competitors.
  • Their expertise, real expertise, resides at a level far and away higher than most in their industry – at least in their market.
  • They literally have thousands more hours of experience — successful experience — than their competition.
  • They deliver the bottom line RESULTS for which they’re paid.

People want results — the rest is HappyTalk.

Marketing experts wax poetic about their place in the process, a well deserved spot if they also produce results. Folks talk about branding, service, and convenience. I’m sure you know the drill well. But when the smoke clears, and the fruits of our labor are put up for all to see, will the typical business owner be proud? Or will they be a bit red-faced? Most businesses, I’d say the vast majority, produce one of two things — results, or endless reasons why the results are weak or nonexistent.

This isn’t rocket science

Everybody talks about bringing home the bacon, but few ever really deliver. Having both the knowledge and expertise to create results are indispensable when the agenda is to produce results. Experience? Obviously to be highly valued, but can be gained while doing– however, NOT without the knowledge and expertise. Failed businesses often find the real culprit was that faking those two factors simply doesn’t cut it. The public knows genuine results when they see it. They’re equally skilled at discerning bona fide knowledge and expertise.

You’re a business owner, or you are thinking of taking the leap and starting one. Are you all that knowledgeable about what it takes to make things work? Do you have the skill sets, the flat out, slam dunk expertise required? If you’re able to answer ‘yes’ without hesitation, my money’s on your business success. I was taught early and often that ‘success begets success.’ It wasn’t until I’d learned these lessons that I finally understood what it meant. In the business world, at least over the long run, success = results. The more often and consistently your business produces the results desired by customers/clients, the more success you’ll have. See what I mean?

This isn’t rocket science. But if it’s so dang simple, why do the majority of businesses fail so miserably?

It’s the difference between a simple concept and its not so simple execution. People will literally chase you down to pay for the results they want.

Jeff Brown specializes in real estate investment for retirement, has practiced real estate for over 40 years and is a veteran of over 200 tax deferred exchanges, many multi-state. Brown is a second generation broker and works daily with the third generation. With CCIM training and decades of hands on experience, Brown's expertise is highly sought after, some of which he shares on his real estate investing blog.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    October 15, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I was going to question the premise of “They literally have thousands more hours of experience – successful experience — than their competition.” Then I realized successful hours of experience didn’t have to necessarily be in the specific industry they are now operating in – but rather that experience could come from a previous industry or career, but carries over.

    • Jeff Brown

      October 15, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      @Joe Loomer Though thousands of hours of experience in a specific calling is what separates the merely good from the elite, your point is well taken. In fact, I’ll go a step farther. Dad’s firm was in San Diego, a big time Navy town. He never had less than three retired Chiefs workin’ for him. 🙂 Those guys always succeeded, and almost from their first day. They were often awkward and clumsy at first, but once they got their ‘sea legs’ they rocked. I once asked Dad why the Chiefs did so well. That’s when I learned that Admirals don’t run the Navy, Chiefs do. 🙂

      • Joe Loomer

        October 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        @Jeff Brown Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Prest and Naegele

    November 20, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Very interesting article Jeff. I would also add planning next to the necessary experience. Here I mean not just the business plan but cost control as well.
    Additionally, some entrepreneurs believe they can do everything on their own, and keep the bookkeeping and do the accounting, while their time would be so much better invested in growing the business. And many lack vision, including financial vision.
    We actually wrote more on the topic, including business-failure due to the lack of succession plan and even rapid expansion in one of our articles: https://www.prestinaegele.com/why-do-small-businesses-fail
    Hope it helps!
    Andrew W.

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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