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To learn if a bomb is planted in your small business – and who planted it there – ask yourself this simple question:
“Do I know everything I need to know in order to survive and prosper in my own small business?”
If your answer is either “I know all the answers”, or “I don’t have any problems” (or something similar – or both!) it’s almost 100% certain that your business is at risk of being destroyed when the bomb you planted – before you even opened your doors for the first time – finally goes off. (And it will… count on it!)
What is this time bomb?
It’s the fierce independence and personal pride that motivates most people to go into small business in the first place.
Ironic, isn't it? The very thing that drives them into business ultimately drives them out of business!
Because they’re so busy working IN their businesses (as terrific self-employees) that they don’t realise – or, worse still, ignore – the need to work ON their businesses (as managers and entrepreneurs).
What does that mean?
Imagine a truck driver who decides to go into business for himself. He’s one of the best. His knowledge and skills are unsurpassed. He knows the routes, the danger spots, and he knows how to load and unload a truck faster than anyone else in the business.
How long do you think he’ll stay in business, no matter how skilled he is, if he puts no fuel in the tank, no oil in the motor, no water in the radiator and no air in the tyres? Or if he doesn’t bother to register his rig? Or insure it? Or maintain it?
Your business is like his truck. It’s a vehicle that needs careful attention and regular servicing if it’s going to stay on the road. You ignore it at your peril. (And you get what you deserve.)
No matter how good a trades person you are, or how good a sales person, retailer or professional, if you don’t give your business the time and attention it needs, it will grind to a screeching halt, sooner or later.
The problem’s very simple. The root cause of ALL small business failure boils down to a single word…
The owners just don't know what they need to know in order to survive. Worse still, the vast majority don't know that they don't know how to run a successful business!
When the problem's so simple, so is the solution…
But if that’s the case, why do 90% of small businesses still fail?
Because that fierce independence and personal pride won’t allow the owners to admit that they could possibly not know something about their businesses that they need to know in order to survive. The fact is, businesses don’t fail. People do.
In other words, irrational emotion gets in the way of their ability to make sound, rational judgements about their businesses. They don’t want anyone else to know they’re not fully in control.
Cause and effect
Interestingly, the problem is generally worse among men than among women in small business. Yet we tend to think of women as being more emotional than men.
My own observation is that women tend to be emotional about things that really matter, especially in business. Like relationships (which is what business is really about).
On the other hand, men tend to be more emotional about things that don’t really matter… like titles, status symbols (cars, clothes, accessories, trophies), power, authority and money. And sport. (Not surprisingly, business is the ultimate game for many men.)
It’s no coincidence that the survival rate of women in small business is significantly higher than the survival rate of men – close to 400% higher, in fact.
The fact is, women tend to focus on the causes in life, while men tend to focus on the effects.
Who’s to blame?
It’s very much part of our culture that men are supposed to know everything about business, cars, sport and other “masculine” pursuits. If they don’t know – or, more to the point, if they’re foolish enough to admit that they don’t know – it’s seen as a serious deficiency on their part. Their manhood is somehow deemed to be in question.
This kind of self-defeating, “macho” emotional conditioning has had a devastating impact on almost every facet of our society, especially our family relationships, and it’s time we put things right.
Look at the FACTS…
The Japanese business phenomenon has been built on some fundamental principles:
“There are no mistakes, only lessons to be learned.”
“Fix the problem, not the blame.”
“United we stand, divided we fall.”
These are the opposite of the typical approach to small business in western society.
Most of us refuse to admit that we need to learn anything, so we go on making the same mistakes, over and over. The lessons remain unlearned.