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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

Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess

(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.

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Before the pandemic, age discrimination was prevalent in workplaces. The EEOC reports that in 2018, about 6 out of 10 workers aged 45 years and older say they experience discrimination on the job.

A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.

Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.

Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.

Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.

What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?

It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.

There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.

As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.

Provide accommodations or not?

According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”

Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.

Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.

Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.

Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.

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Business News

Missing office culture while working remotely? This tool tries to recreate it

(BUSINESS NEWS) This startup just released new software to help you reproduce the best parts of in-person office interactions while you work from home.

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Loop Team product page, trying to create an office culture experience remotely.

Are you over working from home? Feeling disconnected from your co-workers? Well look no further: The startup Loop Team just released a tool that reproduces the office culture experience virtually.

“We’ve looked at a lot of the interactions that happen when you’re physically in an office — the visual communication, the background conversations, the hallway chatter,” said Loop Team’s founder and CEO Raj Singh in an interview with TechCrunch. “[W]e built an experience that effectively is a virtual office. And so it tries to represent the best parts of what a physical office experience might be like, but in a virtual form.”

Singh’s company, founded pre-COVID, is posed as a solution to feeling “out of the loop” while working remotely. During the pandemic, where virtually all of us are working from home, this technology is needed more than ever.

How it works is by essentially recreating an office experience on a virtual platform. Somewhere between Zoom and Slack with some added features, Loop Team lets you know who’s free to chat, who’s in meetings, and allows you to have private discussions using audio, video, and screen share. It’s ideal for working on projects together.

Loop’s layout is unique in the sense that it is designed to show you conversations in a clear, direct way – exposing relevant items and hiding the rest. Also, employees who miss meetings have the ability to review what they missed, making it perfect for companies that hire across time zones.

The platform was made available December 1st free of charge, but Singh is hoping to introduce a paid version next year. Pricing will likely reflect team size and should remain free for teams of 10 or less.

I’m a big fan of software that allows you to feel closer and more connected to your co-workers. Do I think anything will ever compare to a true, in-person office experience? Definitely not. That being said, I value this kind of progress, especially since I don’t think office culture en mass will make a return any time soon, regardless of vaccinations.

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Business News

What’s DMT and why are techies and entrepreneurs secretly taking the drug?

(BUSINESS) The tech world and entrepreneur world are quietly taking a psychadellic in increasing numbers – they make a compelling case, but it’s not without risks.

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DMT

Move over tortured artists and festival-goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. An increasing number of professionals in Silicon Valley swear by “microdosing” psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) in efforts to heighten creativity and drive innovative efforts.

This probably isn’t a shock to anyone following trends in tech and startups, particularly the glorification of the 8-trillion hour workweek (#hustle). But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business results.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or mastermind retreats to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says “this ‘spirit’ molecule provides our consciousness access to the most amazing and unexpected visions, thoughts and feelings. It throws open the door to worlds beyond our imagination.”

The substance is commonly synthesized in a lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five to 45 minutes, however, some say it lasts for hours).

Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various Amazonian plant species and snuffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last as long as ten hours. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “ayahuasca experience” for its touted ability to provide clarity, vision and inventiveness.

Physical effects are said to include an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as the “purge.” The purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation at the next company whiteboarding session.

Users are subject to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscular incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.

DMT can interfere with medications or foods, a reason why many indigenous tribes that work with it also follow specific dietary guidelines prior to ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medication prior to consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, potentially even causing trauma or death.

So why the hell are people putting themselves through this ordeal?

Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative occurrence that provides clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and sharp, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space or ego dissolution (“ego death”).

Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting through the 4-week follow-up period.

Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow up. People who consume DMT generally chronicle improvements in their overall satisfaction of life, and claim they are more mindful and aware after the experience.

It’s important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but that doesn’t rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the states, explaining why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.

For those considering a DMT journey (and we don’t recommend it based on the illegal nature and health risks), it’s critical to gain a full understanding of the potential risks prior to consumption.

For more reading:

This story was first published here in June, 2019.

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