The Internet is full of stories of great business failures
Are you familiar with the cases of Kodak? Nokia? Toys R Us? Blockbusters? Blackberry? Segway? Concord?
These are the typical examples to explain concepts. The case studies of every MBA. There is no seminar where one of them is not explained.
If I now search for “Kodak business failure” in Google I get 2,800,000 results. And they keep publishing new cases every year.
Kodak officially went bankrupt in 2012 and in the last year pages and pages of results using the same example keep appearing.
And Concorde has not even been flying since 2003.
However, we must recognise that they are very good at one thing: they are stories that people know and quickly understand the concepts behind their failures.
But on the other hand, they are cases far removed from our reality.
I don’t really care what happened to Toys R Us.
I am not Toys R Us by a long shot. I wish I had been Toys R Us at some point and had their problems.
Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration.
I don’t care and I don’t think it can teach me anything relevant to my small business.
Maybe that I have to watch out for the Amazon on duty.
But all of us entrepreneurs have cases to tell.
Probably not as well known as these book cases, but certainly very real.
Very close to us.
And as a consultant I have experienced a few of them.
Sometimes people already bring their problems from home. Other times they come to me to get advice and help them organise to launch or grow their business and as we work together those problems arise.
Either way, these examples can be of great value.
For them and for anyone else in a similar situation.
They are tangible cases experienced in first person. That you can find in your city. That explain lessons that can be of great value.
If you are not Kodak, or Tesla (not everything is going to be failures either) but you have a business to which you dedicate your effort and put your enthusiasm to see it grow, it can be very useful to know what problems have affected entrepreneurs and businessmen like you.
Do you want statistics?
Mark Twain popularised the phrase (attributed to the politician Benjamin Disraeli, to Caesar what is Caesar’s) that says: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, big lies and statistics”.
With this in mind, there are statistics that say that 20% of businesses fail in the first two years, 45% in 5 years and 65% in 10 years.
And if we talk about startups in total, statistics say that 90% fail.
I’m telling you, they are statistics, the kind that go after the big lies.
And as statistics go, they don’t affect me too much. I don’t take them very seriously.
The only thing that really matters to me is whether my business will fail or not.
Reasons? Many and varied. The truth is that what I usually see is that the entrepreneur works so hard in his business that he forgets to look up and see what is going on out there.
All day long they are putting out fires, looking for clients, signing contracts, creating results.
But he doesn’t see those changes coming in the market or in technology or in politics or in thousands of other things that can affect him.
And sometimes what he doesn’t see is something much closer to home: that our partner is having its own problems or that we are looking for excuses to delay our market launch.
Sometimes you have to look up from the paper (or the computer screen) and look out of the window. And spend a little time thinking about the decisions we make every day. And the ones we don’t make.
I have called it “Entrepreneurs’ stories to keep you awake at night”
It reminds me of a TV series from many, many years ago. Horror and suspense stories with unprecedented situations and endings that you didn’t expect. A sort of “Black Mirror” but without so much science fiction. By the way, now I see that they seem to be creating new episodes again.
Not that I pretend to say that my stories are masterpieces of suspense.
What is true is that they are real cases that have left me sleepless. Myself and, probably (I hope), the other protagonists of the stories.
In these stories I tell you
- They say that a man with two watches never knows what time it is. And a man with two projects, which one does he think he has? (The “Side Project”)
- It’s almost ready for launch, now only a small detail is missing (Ysíes)
- Wind in full sail and … the tsunami arrives (Pivoting)
- My time and your time are not the same time (Two men and a destiny?)
- What do we prioritise: Investors or Users? (Growing up)
These are stories to get you thinking. Could you find yourself in a similar situation?
And if so, what can you do about it?
Maybe it’s enough to make some contingency plan or have a conversation with someone to clarify expectations and cross it off the list. One less thing to worry about.
But something has to be done.
Your business deserves this time.
Seriously, if you’re not going to have the time you might as well give it up and get on with your business and your day to day life. I wish you the best of luck.
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