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How to Kill Your Business in Two easy Steps

How to Kill Your Business in Two Easy Steps
By Monty J. Sharp, Certified Comprehensive Coach

Every calling is great when greatly pursued.
'Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)

Learning From Failure

Here's a dismal statistic for you: Of the new businesses that fail, 80 percent do so within the first five years. Why?

According to The Executive Committee, a San Diego based organization that works exclusively with its more than 6000 member CEOs, the reasons for business failure are not complicated and tend to surface repeatedly. Ultimately, many may be placed in one of two categories: systems or leadership. Each category has a number of components, any of which can sink the proverbial ship. This list is not exhaustive, but should give you an idea of critical elements that, when missing, lead to failure.

System Meltdown

Systems are the 'pieces' that allow your business to function effectively and efficiently. They are 'how' things get done. Failure in systems will surface in:

* Lack of knowledge. Knowledge is an important part of any enterprise. It may take the form of marketing knowledge, product or service knowledge, or even financial knowledge. Who are your customers? What are they looking for? How do you read a financial statement for the true story it tells? 'Knowledge is power - - power to succeed.

* Lack of policies and procedures. Successful businesses provide a clear road map of how work gets accomplished in their environment. How and when will you bill clients for your services? Will you offer a satisfaction guarantee? What about refunds? Without such maps, costly mistakes can happen.

The Critical Role of Leadership

Leadership has, without doubt, the biggest impact on business success or failure. Even though you may be a sole proprietor, your leadership skills are crucial to the successful operation of your business. The forms of leadership or lack thereof are:

* Vision and Mission. A lack in these areas often result in a lack of focus, strategy and direction. Without a clear vision, the 'urgent' can take over the truly important resulting in a 'reactive' vs. a 'proactive' mindset. Your vision and mission are what your coaching is about. They reflect your values, goals and boundaries. The is a Proverb that says, 'Without a vision, the people perish.' The same is true of a business. The leader holds that vision.

* Change. Following the 'status quo' is no longer acceptable and can be fatal to a business. If you don't or can't figure out a new, improved way of delivering your product or service, your competitor will. Whatever you do, do not remain stagnant.

* Implementation. Making a strategic plan is only part of the picture. You must also work the plan. Not working a plan is as deadly to a business as not having one. Follow-through is absolutely necessary.

* Passion. Closely related to vision, passion is what keeps you moving ahead when times get tough 'and they will. Continuing, even in the face of adversity and long odds is what passion is all about. True leaders hold deeply the belief that what they are doing really does make a difference. Passion does not guarantee success but lack of it almost certainly guarantees failure.

If these are why most businesses fail, then how does one succeed or at least have a better chance to be successful? Look back over the list above. Create the vision, the plans and the systems. Take a leadership role. Believe in what you are doing and commit to completion. It really isn't a big secret, but it's also not easy. Surround yourself with a support system of people 'especially a business coach. By doing these things consistently, you increase the odds that your business will not become another dismal statistic.

Copyright 2002, Monty J. Sharp

Vision to Venture, LLC is an executive coaching company dedicated to providing an interpersonal approach to high performance Executives, managers and work teams. Our highly effective and balanced approach to leadership development, teambuilding and action learning get both business related as well as human results. Visit us at

About the Author
Certified Comprehensive Coach, Monty J. Sharp is a team development expert who coaches his clients through change management, business development, visioning and leadership, sales and productivity. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, regional and local companies, executives and managers, professionals, and small business owners.

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