The True Reasons Businesses Fail: Beyond ‘Experts’ Submissions

by Foyeke Omole

This is one of my serious posts (done with a straight face), where I present the true reason businesses fail despite numerous experts’ excuses, sorry, submissions.

Year-in-year-out, the percentage of start-up businesses, across the globe, that crash increases. I am yet to see the record of a year when it decreased, and reading through the various reasons as submitted by experts – reasons such as recession, high interest rates, poor product or service offerings, poor inventory, lack of or poor planning – unsettled me a bit. I was just not satisfied with the conclusions. I mean several other businesses operate under the same economic conditions, some with plans and many without, yet they constantly grind the spanners which the economic environments throw at their business wheels, coming out winning like some James Bonds.

So in my quest to truly discover what the main cause(s) was, I began to reflect, yet again, on my short experience so far in entrepreneurship. I thought back on my journey into entrepreneurship, on how I ventured into many businesses that failed despite my careful plans, proposals and ticking the supposed checklists for prospective entrepreneurs. Don’t get me wrong, plans, proposals and checklists are essential but they are not guarantees for a truly successful business. To me, reasons for business failure go deeper than those submissions. With due respect to the experts, I saw those submissions as excuses, and nobody succeeds by making excuses.

The answer finally came few months ago when my business experienced the worst ever, stomach-turning financial hardship so much that I, the business owner, was ready to give up on the business and move on to my second passion – cooking. Without wasting time, I came up with a plan on how I would re-launch my customized lunch service in Abuja (trust me, business plan writing is my passion), and calculations were made. I even got a friend who was willing to bank roll 70% of the new business. It was an offer too good to pass on, and I was ready to grab the offer with both hands!

Then out of the blues, I remembered that that was how my previous business attempts failed. It then dawned on me that the underlying factor responsible for business failures is SELFISHNESS. Selfishness you say? Yes. And this holds true for other individuals with failed businesses.  If I asked you why you are in business, you may say you are in business to make money, make profit, earn enough to sustain you, keep you in style for a long time, have something to retire on etc. You may even say you are in it to provide service and help the less privilege (for social entrepreneurs). Those reasons are all good but they certainly do not also assure business success.

In fact, many business owners with any of the above mindset may succeed in the short run but fail in the long run. This is because of a bitter truth: a business that does not have the potential to outlive its owner can never be truly successful. Now think, how many businesses, and even supposed big businesses, can outlive their owners? Many businesses die the moment the owners die. So I realized that businesses fail because the visionary set up the business in the ‘NOW’ without the mind of LEGACY. And in the process, they forget the truth that living just for ourselves is the lowest denominator for one’s drive for success (hence the fast switch from one business to the other). The ‘NOW’ factor is the same mindset that has brought on the new misadventure in the entrepreneurship space called “Multiple Streams of Income” (another topic of discussion for another day).

This ‘LEGACY’ mindset I am talking about is simply organizing the way you live, the decisions you make, the way you run your business- your belief, tenacity, courage, perseverance etc. in such a way that your life and business becomes a blessing to other people for generations to come. Starting and running a business without a legacy perspective is like watching a high-definition programme without a high definition television set. Not only will it be blurry, but you will also miss the layered brilliance of the whole experience. Your business potential will never be fully realized in the limited single dimension of just what is personal.

This led me to conclude my reflection that my business would succeed and stand the test of time like those of the Dangotes, KFCs, Adenugas and the likes if only I could get past the ‘ME’ and ‘NOW’ mentality. The moment you realize that you arere not the only stakeholder in the success of your business, you will be energized to make a success of it. When you switch from making a name to leaving a name, you will realize that truly, even in the toughest situations, there is always a way for the willing.

We all applaud the story of David and Goliath. Oh! How delightful to note that David killed Goliath with a slingshot. But put us in the same setting, selfishness will make us panic at the ideas of having nothing but a slingshot to face our giants. The legacy mindset will drive you to make the plans that will set your company apart, reject mediocrity and take the business risks that others might not take because you know that the outcome of others’ lives, born and unborn, are dependent on your actions and inactions.


Forgive my seriousness, I don’t know what took over my mind lol… Next article will be seriously unserious!


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