“One third of all new businesses fail by the two-year mark, and almost 60% fold within four years, according to a 2005 Monthly Labor Review study. But resilience can be rewarded. So can keeping a positive perspective.”
You can find a lot more famous failures in Business Week’s slideshow. This rather sobering statistic haunts me as my parents were one of the almost 2/3rds that failed within four years.
Our own business is rather progressing but after six years we are still facing every day challenges and problems. I had hoped that by this point things would be going much more smoothly. That has not happened. I have changed my attitude much more instead as I used to believe that having no problems was a sign of strength. Now I’m beginning to see that the opposite is true. Facing challenges, however, is not a sign of weakness, rather a sign of strength for three reasons:
- Problems are a sign that something is not working, and that it is time to change.
For example, your marketing isn’t working and your new sales are dropping. Perhaps it’s time to find a new channel, a new promotion, a bigger advertisement budget…
- Problems are an indication that there is something that you need to know that you haven’t figured out yet.
A good example might be that your team isn’t functioning well. Communication isn’t flowing smoothly between all the members. This happened in my work place, actually. Some parts of the team communicated, but others didn’t. It’s time to figure out what is going wrong in the dynamics, and set up whatever solutions are appropriate: formal meetings, private times with the less connected members, more memos, etc..
- Problems show that the current situation has stresses that you need to resolve.
Perhaps the way you are handling customer problems, by giving excess discounts, etc., creates unwanted tensions elsewhere in the business. A customer complains about the cost of a product, you provide a concession. Another customer comes up having heard about it and wonders why s/he doesn’t have the same concession.
Such situations abound, but the important idea is to observe objectively what is going on, examine the causes, look at solutions, try them out, and collect data on the effects of changes. Such information will then help you to make more informed solutions in the future.
Most of all, though, don’t let the problems you face in your business cause you business problems that you don’t want to face.