How to Fail at Business

Most of the “how to” articles you read, including the ones I write here, tend to advise you on what to do in order to improve and be successful. There are many books that do the same, like . . . The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, and 40 Strategies for Winning in Business.  How about all the top 10, eight ways, seven things, five reasons, four ideas, two rules and the one most important system to…. (fill in the blank). 

Well, I thought I’d take a little different approach this month and try to advise you on what to do if you want to fail. That’s right. Here is my list of how to destroy a business. Some of them may be obvious, others not so. But I can guarantee you this, do these things and your failure in business is most assured.  So here’s the list . . . the “how to” in business failure.

Lie — People will not do business with you if they don’t trust you. If you break their trust they will be gone. It will be virtually impossible to get their trust back unless they are long time friends or family members. You lie, you lose.

Compete on price — the main reason most companies compete on price is because there is nothing that distinguishes them from their competition. Customers have nothing else to compare to but price. Therefore, customers beat their venders to no end since they know they can get the same thing elsewhere. If you keep reducing your prices you will eventually price yourself out of business as the profit margin will shrink to nothing. A sure recipe for failure.

Rely on word of mouth — this is a very good way to promote your business but you can’t just rely on this one strategy. Particularly if you are just starting out. Without a good marketing plan you are waving in the dark. You know what you’re doing but no one else can see you.

Treat employees like crap — How many times have you been in a business and heard employees complain about the boss? What did you think? Your employees are helping you run your business and are interacting with your customers. Treat them like crap and they will probably do the same with your customers. 

Be everything to everyone — If you try this you will most definitely fail at some point. The “jack of all trade” types tend to do worse than highly focused specialists. Everything to everyone means no uniqueness. Back to competing on price. Doomed!

Plan and Prepare and then do nothing — I see this quite often. All the best plans are made but some people get so busy doing the wrong things they never get to what they intended to do. Maybe it’s because of fear or maybe it’s just bad time management.  Whatever the reason a plan without action is useless.

Keep poor financial records — If you don’t track it, it’s difficult to improve it? If you don’t track where the money is coming from and where the money is going to, how do you even know if you’re making any money at all? At some point you will know, once it’s all gone!

Clearly, my goal here is not to give you advice on how to fail. As a business coach the last thing I want is for people not to be as successful as they can.  When reading this list you might think to yourself how ridiculous it is to do these things. You might say to yourself, “anyone in business should know better.” You’d be surprised. I see these things or variations of them every day.   

So sarcasm aside, here is my advice. Read this list and then do the opposite. That would be the list of how to fail at failure. That’s a double negative meaning just another article on how to be successful in business.