When Is a Failed Business, Not a Failed Business?

FailureWhen it was never a business to begin with.

One of the problems I have with all the statistics for failed small businesses, entrepreneurial ventures, and startups, is that many of them weren’t really businesses to begin with.

Dreams or ideas, maybe — but not businesses.

How I Define a Business

I don’t have some grand model of what a business should be. There are many books and consultants out there defining that stuff.

But I’ve known a lot of successful entrepreneurs, and all of their ventures had some basic things in common:

  • They solved a problem – There was a need, and they came up with a way to fulfill that need. Simple as that. Not every one was earth shattering, or changed the world, but it made something better in some way.
  • They brought something unique or special to the marketplace – They utilized their special skills, talents, gifts, and way of looking at the world to make their venture unique. It was an extension of them, and not a direct copy of someone else.
  • They had a real business model – Businesses make money. That’s what they do. You can do something as a hobby, but in order to make it a viable business, you have to have a viable business model.

I’m sure you can find examples of where these items were not met. But when people ask me (and I get asked a lot) what makes a successful business, I always come back to these items.

If you stick to them, and are willing to work your ass off, you’ll be successful. Then you can move on to the next thing.

So, don’t let the statistics scare you. There are really only 2 kinds of failed businesses — those that were never businesses in the first place, and those that were never attempted.

The rest? Learning experiences ;).