Most businesses fail

Most businesses fail

The sad truth of business is that, of all the businesses that are launched globally, around 80% fail within the first two years. Does that mean you shouldn't follow your dream of going into business by yourself? Absolutely not. But it does mean that you have to take the time to consider why so many companies do not last the pace and how you can avoid the same fate.

In order to put this in perspective, here are three questions that you should ask yourself before you set sail on your latest entrepreneurial voyage. If you are answering ‘no' to all or any of these, there's a good chance you are destined to end up in that 80%.

Is your business different to the rest of the market?

In an increasingly crowded business market, the average consumer is finding it harder and harder to differentiate between competitive companies. The net result of this is lots and lots of businesses fighting over the same small bit of turf and very few ever being recognised as a standout company in their field.

The key to differentiating yourself in the eyes of the market is to work out what the value of your business is. What does your business have that the others do not?

Can you communicate what is valuable about your company?

In the history of failed business ideas, there is a whole chapter devoted to brilliant concepts that tanked because they were never properly explained to the target market. Once you know what makes your company standout, the next step is to figure out how to tell the customers.

Make sure your message is clear, concise and compelling. Always ensure all communication with a potential customer ends with a call to action – tell them why they should be interested in your product and then present them with a way to purchase it.

Are you a leader?

Every business needs one – a steering influence that has the ability to relate to those in their charge and keep the enterprise moving in the right direction. You might not have all the skills of a good business leader.

Perhaps you are a great people person but not so good with discipline. Or maybe you are brilliant with strategising but not so good when it comes to giving orders. If you lack some of the skills you will either have to learn them or partner up with somebody that has them. No company was ever successful without reliable leadership.

Why now might be the perfect time to start

Why now might be the perfect time to start

With the World economy continuing to tread an uncertain path with trade tariff threats and protectionism, it might seem the last thing you want to do is to set-up shop on your own. The threat of recession and a lack of confidence in businesses in general is probably enough to put off even those with the necessary skill, ambition and capital to launch their own start-up.

Yet, as economic experts have pointed out time and time again, times of economic downturn are, in fact, the ideal time to establish a new company. There are several reasons for this:

Take advantage of people's desire to save

During times of economic strife, customers become far more careful with their money. If you are entering a crowded marketplace as a start-up, it is quite possible that you can minimise your overheads in a way larger, more established competitors cannot. Being the ‘cheap alternative' is a huge advantage when people's wallets get light.

Take advantage of high unemployment

While nobody likes to see unemployment figures rise, a high level of joblessness presents an opportunity to the new start-up. With so many qualified and ambitious people looking for work, the talent pool is much larger from which you can choose your employees.

Take advantage of decreased prices

Everything – from office furniture to rent to workforce – costs less when the economy is in trouble. By setting up your business at this time, you can purchase all the essentials of your workplace for a fraction of the price then if you waited for the economy to boom again.

Take advantage of a depleted field

Start your company during the boom-times and prepare to fight tooth and nail for position in an arena filled with powerful competitors. When money, and credit, is not so easy to get your hands on, a good half of those competitors, regardless of your industry, are likely to disappear.

Take advantage of a slow market place

A weak economy slows things down across the market place. In such an atmosphere, a dynamic young start-up is a real attraction. See the lack of activity in your field as an opportunity, not a disadvantage.

Reduce risk for a healthy business

Reduce risk for a healthy business

If the recent economic downturn has thought us anything, it is that business is no place for a compulsive gambler. Sure, occasionally, every good business person needs to take a chance on a long shot that might not make it but, for too long, too many CEOs have been living by the SAS maxim of ‘He who dare wins', needlessly risking and, often-times, losing their business' well-beings in the process.

In reality, that motto should be ‘He who takes the time to measure each individual risk in a given situation and stacks them up collectively against the potential rewards to calculate an accurate risk-rewards ratio wins', though that probably isn't quite so catchy.

Of course, even a solid risk-reward ratio leaves something to chance – after all, nothing in life or business is ever certain. But if you can honestly appraise the real pros and cons of a business opportunity and then have the confidence to follow your appraisal, you are in pole position in your chosen field.

The key to this is information. Before you invest in an idea, a business or a new venture, learn as much as you possibly can about it. Take it apart from every angle and measure the possibilities in the realest possible terms. The romantic business person is the failed business person – base all your information on things that are measurable in the realest possible terms.

A good example of a good risk-reward ratio, is when an investor purchases a business out of receivership. In many ways, this is the ideal time to purchase a company. Before receivership, a buyer would also have to take the liabilities as well as the assets, whereas after receivership the buyer just gets the assets and the equipment necessary to keep the business running.

So, whether you are investing in a company or starting your own venture, take every pre-caution and investigate the situation as deeply as possible in order to keep the risk-reward ratio tilted in your favour. If you don't fancy doing all that, then save yourself some time – open an online blackjack account and hit the tables.

An older workforce improves business

An older workforce improves business

Generally speaking, when you read about older people in the workplace, the stories are negative in nature. Particularly, we hear complaints being made that, as you get older, the chances of you finding a new job should you find yourself unemployed diminish greatly.

The motivation for employers in seeking out younger employees is obvious. The younger you are the more likely you are to be au-fait with the latest technology, which can be crucial in a world where business is continuously changing and adapting to keep up with hardware and software innovations. Yet, older staff members are often the better option for a number of key reasons. It is well worth considering the potential benefits of an older workforce if you are currently hiring.


The comedian Louis CK perhaps put it best when he said: If you're in an argument with someone older than you, you should listen to them because, even if they're wrong, their wrongness is rooted in more information than you have. Experience is invaluable, particularly in the workplace. While a younger worker might have more up-to-date knowledge or even better qualifications, an older worker is less likely to get rattled when the pressure hits or when things don't go to plan.


Where you will often find young employees with so much self-belief that it borders on arrogance, what is less likely to be found is genuine confidence. Confidence is the quality that allows a worker to express their opinion in a manner that is neither bullying, disrespectful nor distracting. Years on the job mean they know when the time is right to share an idea or give somebody advice.

Pride in their work

One thing that there is less and less of amongst new members of the workforce (and this counts for those coming from both school and university) is pride in their work. Unless they are doing their dream job, many younger employees cannot wait to get out of work every day – it doesn't matter how well they've worked or how complete the day's workload is. Older workers will have much more of a sense of responsibility, while taking a greater pride in a job well done.