Having been a small business owner and consultant for twenty-plus years, I had the opportunity to learn from my own mistakes, as well as, seeing the business failings of others. I have learned that there are definitely reasons why a small business fails; why some are successful; and why certain types of people are more successful business owners and entrepreneurs. The good news is most successful small business owners had many failings before achieving a level of success, and the object of this article is to identify their (and my) mistakes.
Lack of Capital
When starting a business, an entrepreneur needs to first bring sufficient cash to the venture. I recommend a minimum 10% of the total funding amount to come from Owner’s Equity, with 20% being optimum. Having a strong equity stake in the beginning of a Company’s life makes acquiring the additional capital much easier and less expensive.
Strong Owner’s Equity shouldn’t stop after a Company’s start up stage. A Company’s strength in Retained Earnings is key to growing the Company, seizing on market opportunities and obtaining future finance. If you lack owner’s equity capital, there is additional undue pressure on a Company’s cash flows, making it increasingly hard to obtain the appropriate funding.
Lack of Business Knowledge
Successful entrepreneurs are typically well read. They are always striving for more knowledge and take advantage of the wealth of resources offered through business schools and, as importantly, read other successful entrepreneur’s books. A Business Degree or MBA is a helpful foundation but gaining knowledge from those who have found success is critically important to understanding why businesses fail, as well as, spawning new ideas and markets.
Inexperience ties in with Lack of Business Knowledge. Business Knowledge can be acquired in school, through books and magazines, and via experienced business owners. Business Experience is the critical and common link between successful entrepreneurs. Inexperience costs money when mistakes are made. Make too many mistakes, and you are out of business. Mistakes are a natural part of the business learning curve, however, minimizing them is very important to stay in business. I highly recommend going into a business which you have experience and passion while seeking out those who have been in the same business for a time and reached a significant level of success. Experience comes with time, but you can also learn from the mistakes others have made before you. Cultivate business relationships, mentoring opportunities and networking events and forums. I can’t tell you how many times spending time with an experienced entrepreneur has paid off in spades, in my business life in so much as, what not to do, as what to do.