Wk24 (35.8k subs): 33 Reasons People Fail in Business

and the real reason 9/10 businesses don’t make it

Wk24 (35.8k subs): 33 Reasons People Fail in Business

The Comeback - Week 24 (35,800 Subs):

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It’s common knowledge that over 90% of all businesses fail.

9 out of every 10 start cease to exist.

That’s absolutely insane!

This statistic has haunted me for years.

But I never accepted it at face value.

I needed to investigate to find out what is going on beneath the surface.

After speaking with thousands of entrepreneurs and taking many punches in the face myself I can now confidently say it’s not the businesses that are failing.

It’s the people running them.

So this week I took some time to analyze what the common mistakes are so you can avoid them.

There’s a lot: 33 to be exact.

Read them, question them and use them as a guide to become the kind of person who builds a 1/10 business that succeeds.

I believe this is the best/most important piece of content I’ve ever written but I’ll let you be the judge.

All I ask is one favour in return: If you could take 20 seconds to answer these 3 questions we can create even better content for you moving forward!

Today on David to Goliath:

Road to 100,000: Behind the Scenes

Challenges - Shiny Object Syndrome:

Sponsorship, equity in businesses for advisor roles and unlimited startup ideas - I’ve had a fair few opportunities come at me in the past weeks.

Whilst some of them could be extremely lucrative it’s not going to solve the main problem I have right now - the direction of David to Goliath.

If I don’t focus on solving that the 100k subscriber goal won’t happen.

So this is a reminder to myself (and you) to stay focused on the main thing - more on that later.

Breakthroughs - Unspoken Power of Teaching

Even if this Newsletter helps no one else it seriously helped me.

Taking time out to reflect on your life to date, document what you’ve learned and break down your experience into bitesize chunks massively helps your knowledge retention.

I was amazed by all the ideas stored up in my head! It reminded me once again that teaching is a 2-way street and it benefits you just as much as the student.

Another reason why you should post content online.

Main Topic: 33 Reasons People Fail in Business

As mentioned I do not believe 90% of businesses fail.

I believe it’s the people running them.

This list of 33 reasons is a mixture of my past mistakes and lessons from great entrepreneurs I’ve studied.

Here they are in no particular order:

1) Don’t accept weaknesses

I’ve talked about this at length in why I believe solopreneurship is B.S.

But in short, you can’t be good at everything.

The sooner you figure out your strengths and accept your weaknesses the sooner you can hire other people who naturally thrive in areas you do not.

If you want to find out what your natural strengths are I recommend buying this book, StrengthFinder.

Complete the test in there - it will help you (and your team) in more ways than you can imagine.

2) Don’t spend money to make money

Hiring great people, building your product, marketing your services - it all costs money.

If you’re seeing that as just a cost and not an investment there is a defined ceiling of how far you will go. Clue: It’s not very.

3) Don’t have a powerful network

Your network is your net worth sounds so cliche!

But imagine one person being able to open the door to 10,000 of your ideal customers.

Trust me, that’s possible - I’ve seen it. However, what most people don’t talk about is these strategic connections take years to build.

People who fail in business never put in the groundwork upfront until they’re desperate and by then it’s too late.

So identify those key relationships now and start building - years before you ever need anything from them.

4) Don’t self-educate

Most people stop learning when they finish formal education.

It’s true you should focus on a role that maximizes your strengths but having a baseline understanding of how the world is connected gives you a unique ability to connect dots others could not.

For example, learning about evolutionary biology from Charles Darwin could significantly contribute to building a strong team culture where people constantly adapt.

The top 10% carve out time to read books, study history and master skills the market deems valuable.

Your mind is a strategic weapon so arm it with the best knowledge possible.

And always remember: The further you look back the further you can look forward. Search for the original sources.

5) Don’t think from first principles

If 9/10 people fail in business clearly their thinking and decisions are misaligned.

The truth is most people blankly follow advice without ever questioning it.

The 10% who succeed have their own worldview and take everything others say with a pinch of salt.

They keep the good and ditch the bad.

What’s left is a unique set of principles which they use as a decision-making framework for their life and business.

This is how you set yourself apart, ignore the noise and focus only on what matters.

6) Don’t have the right environment

The most accurate prediction of your net worth?

It’s the zip code you’re born into.

Although considering the fact most entrepreneurs can now work from anywhere this shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

If you aren’t surrounded by people you admire and have a place to keep healthy and do deep focused work, you’re at a serious disadvantage.

7) Don’t take self-accountability

There are two types of people in this world: Ones who complain and ones who just take action and figure sh*t out.

You can only play the cards you’re dealt in life but one things for sure: If you constantly blame the world and other people for your problems you won’t go far.

Rarely do I see someone successful in business who doesn’t take full ownership of their life, admit when they’re wrong and accept it’s on them to solve their problems.

8) Don’t hire great talent

A company by definition is a group of people.

Most businesses don’t make it because they don’t hire A-Players and even if they tried that kind of talent wouldn’t want to work there.

First, you must become the kind of talent you want to hire - and have a purposeful mission that matters more than money to attract them.

Having a chunk of cash does help though!

9) Don’t optimize their brain - food, diet, sleep

I’ll never forget what Jeff Bezos once said: His executives just have to make a couple of high-quality decisions per day to move Amazon forward. That’s it.

It goes even deeper though. If you analyze the success of most big companies it boils down to 1 or 2 big strategic decisions.

So if decisions are so important surely you’d want your brain in the optimum state to make them, right?

Well, judging by the state of most people’s lifestyles it doesn’t seem that way.

Health shortcuts aside if you sleep at consistent times for 7-8 hours, eat clean and exercise regularly you’re going to have a top 10% functioning mind.

Giving you the best chance to make long-term high-quality decisions.

10) Can’t control their impulses - delayed gratification

  • Eating that sugary dessert when you know you shouldn’t

  • Watching YouTube when you should be preparing for that meeting

  • Smoking a cigarette when you’re hanging out with friends

Impulse control and resisting the urge to satisfy your dopamine receptors right now is something nearly all really successful people in business have mastered.

They did a whole study on this called the “Marshmellow Test”.

If you have children it will be a fascinating read because the results were astounding.

Without revealing too much, delayed gratification and the ability to control your short-term impulses for longer-term rewards has a positive impact not just on your business but your entire life.

Just remember: You’re going to pay the price either now or later.

So choose your hard.

11) Play status games

Another huge reason why 9/10 people fail in business is because they’re too caught up in buying material possessions to cover up the cracks of their crippling insecurities.

As Naval once said: “If you play stupid games you win stupid prizes.”

Ego can be a dangerous thing - learn to channel it correctly.

12) Don’t believe in themselves - inferiority complex

Mohammed Ali told people he was the greatest before people knew who he was.

Those who give the excuse that X, Y and Z people only go to the top because of their natural super talents are the ones who never will.

Yes, self-belief will get stronger with evidence to support your actions but the sooner you can start betting on yourself the sooner other people will too.

In a world full of sheep when a lion stands up to roar heads will turn.

And no one is gonna believe in you for you.

That responsibility rests on your shoulders.

13) Don’t have the right expectations

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in starting your own business it’s going to be 10 times harder and take 10 times longer than you first imagined.

The difference between the 10% who make it and the 90% who don’t is the 10% readjust their expectations and do anything it takes to smash down the door.

You must be incredibly persistent to survive.

14) Don’t hire coaches to improve valuable skillsets

It’s commonly accepted athletes need coaches to perform at the highest level.

Yet in business, 90% of people try to do it all themselves.

Paying someone with years of experience in a certain field to train you 1-1 is one of the only shortcuts I’ve found in life and business.

Because you’re either going to pay for those lessons now or wait and pay with your time. As you know, time is money.

15) Don’t delegate everything that isn’t high-impact

Once I asked my Dad “Why don’t you hire a gardener to mow your lawn?”

His response: “Why would I pay someone to do something I could?”

And this is the problem for so many business owners. They’re doing $10 an-hour jobs instead of doing high-leverage activities such as making one sale for $5,000 dollars.

Simply put: If you can’t trust other people to take work off your plate you’ll never have the time to do high-impact activities that keep your business growing.

The result?

You’ll either burn yourself out or churn out your existing customers.

16) Don’t have leverage

Leverage is getting more output from each input you make.

Contrary to the “I’ll outwork everyone” mantra - the people at the top are in fact outleveraging you.

There are 4 main types of leverage:

  • Capital: Using cash to invest in key areas

  • Team: Hiring great people

  • Media: Having the attention of a huge audience online

  • Tech: Using software to do things 100 times faster/100 times cheaper than humans otherwise could

My advice?

Focus on one of these core areas in your life/business and then use that leverage to partner up with people who have leverage in the others.

17) Don’t understand/look after financials

Coming from a family of accountants this is a brutal self-reminder as it’s not something I particularly enjoy.

But if you don’t know your numbers inside out, or have someone in your team that does, you won’t last for long.

I believe every business owner should have at least a core understanding of how accounting works.

As someone once told me: “Show me your numbers and I’ll show you the truth.”

18) Don’t have conviction in your direction

You probably know by now my favourite ever quote: “One man with conviction will overwhelm a hundred who have only opinions”.

If you don’t know where you’re going how do you expect to convince anyone else?

Whether that’s hiring great people, making sales or persuading investors.

The bigger and bolder your mission, the better.

19) Toxic life partner

The single most important decision of your entire life is choosing the person you’re going to spend most of your time with. It impacts EVERYTHING.

And boy did I learn this one the hard way.

Starting and building businesses is chaotic enough. If you’re also dealing with constant chaos at home it’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode - trust me. The last relationship I had nearly ended in me taking my own life.

Also, understand not everyone wants an entrepreneur as a life partner - some prefer the stability - and that’s fine.

I know next time I’m going to be brutally honest from day one and I suggest you do the same.

There are 8 billion people in this world - and that includes someone who wants you for who you really are. Don’t compromise.

20) Don’t reflect on progress or adapt

Failures aren’t valuable if you don’t learn from them.

Taking the time to analyze where you went wrong will enable extreme self-awareness and ensure you never make the same mistake twice.

Remember it’s not the strongest or fittest who survive, it’s the ones who are most capable of adapting.

21) Don’t understand human psychology

Until the day we all become cyborgs (I hope that doesn’t happen) understanding the laws of human psychology is essential.

So many people fail in keeping their clients, team members or making more sales because they don’t know how to articulate their ideas in a way which would benefit others.

If you want a crash course on human psychology read anything or everything by Robert Green. He’s legit.

22) Aren’t brutally honest with people (including themselves)

As Warren Buffet once said: “Honesty is a very expensive gift, Don't expect it from cheap people.”

But the person most people are lying to is themselves.

Those hard questions that linger in your mind and keep you up at night.

They need answers.

The more you run away from them the louder they will get.

If you don’t answer it will also result in avoiding difficult conversations with others that compound into disastrous consequences. In business, this could mean the end.

Sometimes in life, you have to be the bad guy today to be the good guy tomorrow. If you know, you know.

23) Don’t have love in their life

Many of the most successful people I’ve studied have an incredible family support system and I firmly believe this is massively underrated.

In life and especially business you’re going to go through some dark sh*t.

Having just one person who will be there for you no matter what gives you the strength to keep fighting when everything seems lost.

Plus, it’s a great motivator to build a business to change their life as well as yours.

24) Don’t drive life-changing value

Another quote from Buffet, this time on the stock market: "In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine."

The hype, the shiny object, the woman in the red dress that so many people fall for often comes crashing down - often known as a ‘bubble’.

Short-term it’s hard to see through the smoke and mirrors when everyone is ranting and raving but long-term the truth rises to the top and it’s always based on real life-changing value and putting the customer first.

Amazon are great example - crazy to think back in the early 2000s people used to call them a scam!

The reality is so many people and businesses just aren’t that good at providing real value and thus get driven out of their markets over time.

25) Can’t think micro/macro simultaneously

People complain that CEOs of top companies get paid the big bucks for doing almost nothing.

But their value is the fact they can make one decision to solve a micro problem that positively impacts the macro vision and everyone within the company. That impact cannot be understated.

This is why I believe entrepreneurs have a huge advantage - because they’ve built everything from scratch and understand how every department interconnects.

So later on in life, they have the ability to make both micro and macro decisions, simultaneously.

The people who skip this step, usually find out the hard way.

26) Don’t let go of past

I could write a whole Newsletter on this topic because it’s something I’ve seriously struggled with.

However, I’ve now come to realize the more time you give to people who did you wrong or mistakes you made, the more time you’re taking away from the present, the future and the impact you could have.

It could also result in the downfall of your business.

Great leaders have the ability to quickly accept and move on, reallocating that energy to solving current problems and optimistic future thinking.

27) Not consistent - compounding (both ways)

Compound interest is a term that often gets connected to finances. The accumulation of slowly chipping away at something for long periods of time.

Just google a picture of Warren Buffet’s net worth - it’s astounding!

Although compounding doesn’t just apply to money - it applies to everything.

For the 9/10 people who fail in business, they don’t understand compounding is constantly occurring both ways. The results are just as lethal in a downward trajectory.

Remember: Long-term consistency always beats short-term intensity.

The tortoise beats the hare.

28) Don’t get or accept critical feedback

Elon Musk once said a good critique is worth its weight in gold.

The problem is most people can’t put their ego to one side and accept critical feedback - even asking for it makes them extremely uncomfortable.

Instead, they’d rather prove they’re right. I personally struggled with this one for years.

But now I’ve come to the realization I’d rather just win than be right.

And on the topic of feedback if you want future content in this Newsletter to be even more valuable please take 20 seconds to answer these 3 questions.

That way we know who you are and how we can help. Thank you in advance!

29) Don’t have purpose with work

The statistics show us that business is extremely hard.

If you’re not willing to keep pushing when your back is up against the wall someone else will - and they’ll take your customers with them.

The way to have an edge is to find a higher purpose, beyond the money. Something that leaves the world in a better place than you found it.

If you know you’re changing lives with your work it will give you exponential drive when the going gets tough.

And as I mentioned earlier, other people will be drawn towards you - including top-level talent.

True purpose radiates.

30) Can’t strategically allocate resources (time management)

I can’t put into words how many times I’ve seen someone blow up on social media get loads of clients and then stop posting because they’re overloaded with operations.

Then months later when they lose clients have no pipeline to sell to.

This raises the question of scaling fast VS slow but overall it shows they’ve not mastered the skill of resource allocation.

And being great at resource allocation starts with being able to manage your own time effectively.

If you constantly show up late to meetings, can never get on top of your to-do list or don’t have a plan for your day start there.

If this doesn’t come naturally get help and hire an assistant.

Most businesses and people collapse from the inside.

31) Don’t understand 2/3/4/5 order consequences

  • If I get drunk right now I might have a good time

  • But tomorrow I’m going to wake up with a hangover

  • My to-do list will pile up in the following days

  • I will be much less motivated to work out

  • And my sleep schedule will be destroyed

I could go on and on but I think you get the point.

Most people never question the 2nd/3rd/4th and even 5th order consequences of their actions.

If you did you’d probably be making decisions much differently (I know I have! Even though I’m far from perfect).

Once you train your brain to think like this it’s incredible what sort of impact it will have on your life and company.

And if you like a drink go for it! Just understand the long-term trade-offs you’re making.

32) Don’t keep promises

I firmly believe this is the root of all confidence.

It starts by saying you’re going to do something small for example going to bed on time and then actually following through.

The more you work this muscle the more it compounds and when you get to that big negotiation for a sale worth potentially millions you’ll have the utmost confidence you and your team will be able to deliver.

The other party will sense that. The deal will get done.

The problem is most people have broken so many promises they don’t even believe themselves, never mind trying to convince others.

33) Don’t know how to focus (work ethic)

Have you walked around your local town recently?

Everyone’s eyes are glued to their phones. People can’t even eat a meal anymore without having to answer messages (probably setting up the next one!).

And this is destroying work ethic. If you sit down at your laptop with 0 distractions you can do more work than most people do in a week.

If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet both said the most important word in the world is focus I’d advise to pay attention.

Thanks, uncle Warren, you did it again.

If you got this far I commend you.

But I do hope you learned something today.

If you did please share it with your friends and take 20 seconds to answer these 3 questions so we can make even better content that’s relevant to you!

Yours truly,

-Nigel Thomas

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