Q: Why do businesses fail? I always give the same answer…
My role in Xune is ever shifting, and most days I end up doing a bit of everything, but what I enjoy most is teaching and educating entrepreneurs, business owners and fledgling marketing teams. A lot of questions get thrown back and forth and in general the tone is one of discovery and seeing where the possibilities lay.
One question however stands apart from the others, like a bad note played in an otherwise flawless song it seems to hang there out of place and it happens almost every single time.
“What’s the main reason why businesses fail?”
There are variations on this of course but as an amateur student of psychology (I read at least 15 Wikipedia pages…) I feel it’s pertinent to first of all define the real question being asked here.
What are they really asking?
Generally it’s a question I hear from the same group of people. And they are not students trying to write an academic paper who want facts and figures. Or even people who actually care so much as to what the answer is, as intelligent people on the whole they already know most of the answers I or anyone else could give.
No, these are people who are either on the verge of starting up and/or are on the verge of investing serious money into scaling up their marketing efforts.
The real question that is being asked here is
“What you’re saying makes sense Misha, but if I take this risk… if I make the move that I know logically I should make. Do you have anything I can use to quieten that small voice in my head that wants to protect me from failing?
Well… at any rate that’s how I like to view the question being asked as it helps me to ‘move round to their side of the table’ so to speak and view life as best as possible from their perspective. Only then can I provide the best advice possible.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, to do marketing properly takes time and bundles of it… and if you don’t have the time then it takes money to pay for someone else’s time. A variation on this is the old SEO vs PPC debate, do you invest the time to build up domain authority and organic traffic or use money to pay for instant traffic?
And while I will slightly tailor my answer depending on the person I’m speaking to and the scale of their goals, the gist of it is always the same.
The real answer to the reason businesses fail
If people don’t know you, people can’t buy from/or into you.
Simple isn’t it…?
Presuming the business hasn’t been seriously mismanaged, if you’ve failed in business at any stage in life (17 failures is the average number for eventual millionaires) the number one primary reason is probably that not enough people knew you existed. Not enough ideal fit customers were aware that you are a viable option. Not enough people who are experiencing the very problem you solve know that only a quick ‘www.’ or Google search (more likely) away is the answer to their problems.
To coat all that in marketing jargon I would say that the main issue becomes one of under exposure in the marketplace.
Just what a business startup with limited funds wants to hear right? But there is power in that knowledge, and savvy entrepreneurs know they are one idea, one decision, one application of a marketing principle away from their business goals.
With the fast pace of marketing being what it is, those already in possession of a substantial business need to keep throwing wood on their marketing fire to keep pace ahead of the competition.
Can it really be that simple?
Just think about it for a second. Right now, at this very second how many people exist who would benefit from what you offer? Where they have a problem which they perceive as the equal to the monetary value you are asking for in return for your solution. Honestly, some of you need to read that last sentence again. Business is about fair exchange not whose got the cheapest price… but I’ll save that one for another time.
Do not underestimate the sheer scope of this amazing world we live in, and the huge variety and range of people we co-exist with that all have ever-changing needs. If you could wave a magic wand and suddenly everyone in your city, region, country or the world knew you existed and the products and services you offered. Just by being an option in their minds you would experience a monumental increase in website visitors, conversions and sales.
Yes, clearly you need a profitable business model and a product or service which is valued by the market and that people either enjoy or need (preferably both). And, yes you need the books to balance and your suppliers to play ball, and all the other reasons that could be alternative answers. But almost all problems can be fixed with business growth, with more customers willing to buy what you’re selling.
So how do you fix under exposure in the marketplace?
The fix thankfully is also a simple one. And it’s probably not what you’re expecting me to say.
What it isn’t…
- Being on the best website platform
- Using the best marketing software
- Using the best marketing agency
- Having the best visuals
- Having the fastest website, catchiest tagline, best logo, lucky dog, a shamrock given to you by your Irish nan… etc… etc… etc…
Sure, those things can definitely help (I’m thinking of the shamrock here obvs…) and they can multiply your efforts to give you a better chance.
Ultimately though it comes down to creativity, effort, grit and persistence multiplied by time. Just think about the ‘memorable’ acronym CEGPT…
- Creativity – Be unique, be original and realise that there isn’t a rule book to marketing
- Effort – If at first you don’t succeed. Try, try and try again. Then try again!
- Grit – At times it’s going to be hard, and at times it will seem like progress is slow or going the wrong way. Stay hungry and keep pushing.
- Persistence – Failure can never overtake you while your desire to succeed remains strong enough.
- Time – All of the above multiplied by time = Success.
No exceptions to this rule and reading it, you know it to be true don’t you?
If you take enough actions to spread your message, get the word out there and keep doing it for long enough then you’re going to be successful. It sounds like a lot of hard work doesn’t it? You’d be right of course, and please do not underestimate the sheer noise and friction that you’re going to have to break through to get noticed on a bigger scale then what you are right now.
Newer business growth principles such as automating large parts of your sales, marketing and service can be used to essentially create more time, and growth marketing as a discipline leans heavily into this.
If you don’t have the time to invest, well that’s the reason why growth agencies like Xune exist. Reach out, and we’ll graft so you don’t have to.