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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.



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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  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:
    Hope it helps!
    Andrew W.

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Business News

Uh, did Amazon just start an MLM?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon’s advertisement for their new “partnership” sounds suspiciously like a multi-level marketing scheme.



Amazon delivery

Amazon’s labor abuses are beyond well-established. Just peruse Google for a while if you need examples. You’ll see stories from employees who have been denied bathroom breaks, or forced to continue working after coworkers have died on the job. Yet somehow despite all of these allegations, they have managed to sink lower with their reprehensible practices.

Recently, Amazon ran a swath of Facebook ads asking, “Have you ever wanted to own a business? As an Amazon Delivery Service Partner, you’ll start your own package-delivery business, build a team, and have access to Amazon’s technology and logistics expertise.”

Amazon partnership ad

If you’ve ever been DM’ed by a long-lost school acquaintance with an “amazing business opportunity”, you might have the same reaction to that as I did: Uh, did Amazon just start an MLM?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines multi-level marketing as “a business structure or practice in which an individual seller earns commissions both from direct sales and from the sales of the seller’s recruits, of those recruited by the seller’s recruits, and so on.” As recruiting becomes more important than selling products, only a slim minority of particularly successful recruiters end up seeing profits in an MLM.

DSPs are not buying or selling Amazon products, nor are they being incentivized for signing up others to be delivery partners. They are meant to serve as the last leg of transportation between Amazon warehouses and consumers. In fact, Amazon makes the exclusivity of the program clear on their website. DSPs are able to hire between 40-100 staff, but this bears more resemblance to chain franchising than a pyramid scheme, at least on the surface. After all, some of the most predatory MLMS out there began seemingly innocently – just look at Mary Kay.

Amazon requires Delivery Service Partners to have at least $30,000 to fully cover all costs associated with starting up: Not just for uniforms, leases on Amazon branded trucks, insurance, and mobile scanners, but also the applicant’s cost-of-living while getting their business off the ground.

It’s scummy enough that their advertising is taking notes from the MLM playbook. But it actually raises more red flags than it resolves: The DSP program seems like yet another example of how the definition of an employee is getting blurrier by the day.

Uber and Lyft, for example, lease vehicles for their drivers in the same way that Amazon leases trucks and other equipment for their Delivery Service Partners. Rideshare drivers, like DSPs, are responsible for their own insurance costs and have no guaranteed income, either. Amazon is clearly trying to skirt its way around the responsibilities they would ordinarily have as an employer, a problem that unfortunately lies at the heart of the sharing economy.

Amazon’s decision to expand their delivery fleet also comes at an uncanny time. Right now, the United States Postal Service is severely underfunded and its future is uncertain. It provides business owners of all sizes with low-cost mail and parcel delivery, and is obligated to deliver to every home address in the United States.

While the USPS does partner with Amazon to deliver packages, it’s still awfully convenient for Amazon to be introducing this “business opportunity” now. Under the guise of supporting entrepreneurship, Amazon is preparing a death blow to their smaller competitors – think independent retailers, suppliers, crafters and artists that rely on affordable, accessible postage to sell their goods.

While it’s a stretch to label this program an MLM right out of the gate, the whole thing still stinks to high heaven, and we recommend you steer clear. Make no mistake, this is a business opportunity for Amazon alone.

If you dream of owning a business and you have $30,000 to invest, that is a great start! But for goodness sake, invest that in yourself. It would be a shame to waste your time and money lining a mega-corporation’s pockets.

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Business News

Dunkin’ Donuts is closing 800 stores soon

(BUSINESS NEWS) No one is immune to COVID-19. Dunkin’ Donuts announces 800 location closures across the US.



Dunkin coffee

You may want to savor that Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee a little longer than usual this summer. Dunkin’ Donuts has recently announced they will be permanently closing over 800 locations across the United States; this represents 8% of their total locations across the United States.

Dunkin’ announced these closures along with their second quarter earnings. The stores set to close only represent about 2% of Dunkin’s total US sales, so this move will likely help them cut down operating costs in some lower performing locations. Dunkin’ has descried the closures as being part of a “real estate portfolio rationalization.”

Dunkin’ is focusing cuts on what they identify as their “low-volume sales locations” with more than half of these being locations inside Speedway convenience stores. The Speedway locations will be closing first – many of them before the end of the year. Dunkin’ is also planning to close about 350 international locations by the end of 2020.

While this might mean your favorite iced coffee fix will no longer be within arm’s reach, it’s likely that this move will help Dunkin’ Donuts survive long term. The real worry here is what does it mean when even large international brands, like Dunkin’ Donuts, are starting to feel the sting of COVID-19 on the economy? The restaurant industry has been taking big hits during the pandemic – even McDonalds has announced a small percentage of upcoming store closures.

If big chains with cult followings like Dunkin’ Donuts are making cuts, then what hope do small businesses have of making it through the year?

PPP loans and other local government aid programs are temporarily helping small businesses across the country stay afloat, but we still haven’t seen a guarantee that more help is on the way. Current aid packages will only keep businesses going for so long before small business owners will be forced to make tough choices.

If Dunkin’ Donuts moves out of your area, you might want to consider taking your caffeine addiction (and cash) to a local coffee shop or bakery. They could use the love and you may even find a new favorite iced coffee.

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Business News

Some people will be working from home until 2021, or longer

(BUSINESS NEWS) As remote work becomes more common, some employees won’t be returning to the office–ever. Big Tech has almost unilaterally jumped on board.



Remote work

How does working remotely until 2021 sound to you? How about for the rest of your career? Both of these are options that more companies are considering, begging the overarching question: How many job obligations can, realistically, be accomplished from home?

Well, as it turns out, many of your favorite tech giants fit the bill. Facebook, Twitter, Square, Slack, Shopify, and Zillow have all announced that employees can stay home–forever.

Twitter was the first company to get the ball rolling on this movement–an accolade that Twitter hasn’t been able to claim since its inception.

It isn’t surprising that most tech-oriented jobs can be done remotely, but the initiative to allow employees to continue their work remotely shows an exceptional level of trust and accommodation on the parts of the respective companies–and it raises some future possibilities for others in the industry. As some occupations begin transitioning back to in-office work, it’s interesting to see others standing firm in their decisions.

Additionally, many firms have encountered difficulties with the move to remote work, with issues ranging from employee productivity, all the way to security breaches and complications with employees using their own devices for confidential tasks. It’s interesting to see that, in spite of these difficulties, remote work is still an attractive option for companies like Twitter and Facebook.

Of course, not every tech company is allowing their employees to take a permanent staycation. Google, Sony, Amazon corporate, and a few others are extending remote work up to 2021, thus allowing employees to continue social distancing practices amidst COVID-19 concerns. These companies have also made it clear that employees will be able to continue working from home into 2021 if necessary, but for now, employees should anticipate returning at some point.

Non-tech companies–and pretty much any company that doesn’t operate largely from behind a computer–are going to continue to run into challenges with balancing remote work and actual productivity, so holding up the standard set by companies such as Twitter and Google isn’t really feasible for them; however, looking at these tech companies’ measures is inspiring, and others should take note–if for no other reason than the fact that employees love remote work options.

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