THE REAL COST OF SMALL BUSINESS FAILURE – PART ONE
Here is totally new thinking regarding the nature of small business success and failure. It is not an attack on traditional thinking or on government agencies, or educators. Nether is it an attack on other accepted entrepreneurial authorities. Instead, this is a journey into the more personal aspects of entrepreneurship. It’s a new perspective on solving a difficult problem. Old thinking about entrepreneurship and small business isn’t working and hasn’t worked for decades. It’s time to approach the problem of small business failure from a totally different position. It’s time to look at the real cost of failure in terms of the personal devastation it causes. Perhaps knowledge of the real suffering, resulting from small business failure, will lead to more new thinking.
SMALL BUSINESS AND STATISTICAL REPORTING
Let’s begin our analysis with an often stated, yet unfortunately true, piece of information. According to government statistics, two-thirds of all new businesses fail before they are five years old. Most of us interested in entrepreneurship have heard that statement many times. We’ve heard it so many times that we can become immune to its implications. Even for those of us who have experienced the bruises of entrepreneurship, the true meaning of that statistic doesn’t register until the actual numbers are quietly pondered. The magnitude of the problem impacted my thinking for a long time. Eventually, the need to find a way for entrepreneurs to win more and suffer less became essential. That mission is the core of this article as well as the core of a program designed to reduce small business failure.
Percentages are one way of expressing statistics. But the same statistics can take on greater meaning when we consider the actual numbers they represent. For example, if we state, and accurately so, that 5% of the total number of businesses in existence are start-ups, that percentage doesn’t sound particularly significant. But, to know that 5% equals 700,000 start-ups per year takes on a new meaning – and it’s a huge number by any standard. (Note: There are somewhere between 12 and 14 million total businesses in North America, ranging from General Motors to Pete’s Ice Cream truck and including every demographic of age, race, or economics. The percentages, the numbers, and the facts touch every entrepreneur and every free enterprise. No demographic escapes the reality of small business failure.)
SMALL BUSINESS IS MORE ABOUT PEOPLE THAN WE EVER THINK ABOUT – UNLESS WE’RE THE PERSON
The goal here is to think, not about small business but about the people who dream up, start and own these enterprises. The goal is to find a way to help these brave individuals succeed more often that they do in our current framework of entrepreneurship. It’s about the REAL COST of human suffering that results from small business failure. (If you are a prospective entrepreneur looking for a different path to self-employment, see The Focus Program for Emerging Entrepreneurs.) Part Two follows.