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MAKING MONEY AND KEEPING MONEY…NOT THE SAME Top 10 “real” reasons businesses fail and how you can avoid them.

July 13, 2010

Let’s face it; making money is easy especially in America. In this country you can literally start a business with little experience and money and build a multi-million dollar corporation with hard work, passion and some luck. We’ve seen it happen many times and it will continue to happen. So it’s not the creating of businesses that is difficult it’s keeping them!

 Below are my top 10 “non-text book” real world reasons why businesses fail or struggle. (in no particular order)

  1. Poor or lack of Goal setting and strategy – This goes back to my blog on business and passion. Once you’ve reached the point where you know your passion should be a business you must then determine what your goals are and develop a strategy surrounding them. Not doing that can leave you running a treadmill and loathing your passion.
  2. Big Cash, Big Spender syndrome – I’ve seen this in the consulting business. You get several contracts and are paid generous initialization fees and instead of treating the huge payments as part of your future cash flow or properly investing, you begin purchasing assets that suck up your cash. Create cash flow projections and don’t treat your business like your personal life. Start and grow LEAN.
  3. Not taking your business seriously – A marketing expert once said “When you don’t have money all you’ve got is time.” Not knowing basic legal, financial and regulatory aspects in your business can cost you. Know your business and as TheCashFlow.com’s tagline affirms “Handle your Business”.
  4. Confusing your hobby for a business. – I talk about this a lot but it’s very true. Not that you shouldn’t turn your hobby into a business, but be sure points #1 & #3 are in-tact before doing so.
  5. Hiring friends and family — Like point #3, unless your business is a hobby, many of us actually want to obtain some financial security. While you CAN hire family and friends, do so ONLY if it makes good business sense. If you have a business need that your friend is more than capable of handling, great, but don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole.
  6. Not paying taxes or avoiding them — Back to #3, understand the basic regulatory aspects about business. Make sure you pay your payroll taxes on time. If you can’t, consider getting out of business. Period.
  7. Putting the cart before the horse – When you hire employees, remember as CEO you set the tone and pace for your company. The success or failure does not rest solely with the employees it’s with you. As with our bodies, everything starts with our brain. Even a strong healthy leg (employee) can give out if our nervous system (the CEO) isn’t functioning properly. If you’re dysfunctional so is your business.
  8. Personal and business funds commingle – It’s very easy to look at your business as an inflated personal ATM machine when you’re doing well. This practice can get you in trouble. Especially reverting back to point #6. It’s difficult to truly see how your business is performing if there are many personal transactions in the way.
  9. Over outsourcing – It’s great to outsource areas that can be done more efficiently and cost effectively by someone else, but there is a drawback. Over outsourcing can drain your cash flow and become counterproductive when you have limited money and resources to begin with. Take the time to come up with a plan and remember think “LEAN”.

10.  Know your numbers – Quick tell me what’s your profit margin? COGS compared to your unit pricing? Payroll compared to revenue? EBIDTA? Quick Ratio? DSO? LMNOP? (last one was a joke) Point is these seemingly dubious terms actually can hold the key to your business success. Not knowing these and other financial indicators can leave you wondering “where’d the money go?”

 This list can continue forever so you can add mine to your favorite top 10. The goal though is NOT to discourage you but as always to empower you if you see yourself within any of these points. The old school definition of an entrepreneur used to be one that takes risks. So continue to enjoy the risky ride. Just be it a well informed ride.

 Be Empowered…


Katrina M. Harrell is a self-proclaimed “Proactive Bookkeeper” ,accountant and small business consultant in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. She is also CEO of YourSimple Bookkeeper, Inc. which provides virtual bookkeeping services to micro and small business across the country. She is also creator of YourSimple Bookkeeper in-a-Box™ which provides practical recordkeeping and bookkeeping guidance for micro business owners. Her blogs about small business, entrepreneurship and financial management can be found on www.katrinamharrell.com or on her facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/yoursimplebookkeeperdotcom

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