Why small businesses fail sorry, we are closed door sign

Epic fails and how to overcome them

Here are some of the fatal errors failed businesses have made and tips on how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

By Jazz Gakhal, Director of Direct Line for Business in For Small Businesses.

sorry, we are closed door sign

Last year in partnership with Enterprise Nation, we surveyed around 600 home businesses that closed down to find out why they shut up shop.

Even the best entrepreneurs make mistakes from time to time. Here Annabel Karmel explains how one of her biggest failures was not getting her book published sooner. It was only when she discussed it with someone she played tennis with, who convinced her to take it to a book fair, that it got noticed and subsequently published!

Here are some of the fatal errors that those failed business made as well as some tips on how you can avoid making the same mistakes: 

Fail 1: The business was no longer relevant

How to avoid: Research often and early. Don’t be scared to talk to people about your idea. Don’t ask them what they think of it but how they think it might fail – this insight will be much more valuable. Use technology: online forums and social platforms can be a great way to get instant feedback.

Fail 2: The business wasn’t making sufficient profit

How to avoid: Know your competitors and make sure your numbers stack up. Talk to your competition; find out what they’re doing and what their customers think. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to stand out – just do it better! Invest time in pulling together a solid business plan. If this isn’t a skill you feel comfortable with, look for templates to guide you. Also, get out there and network. Find fellow business owners who’ve done it successfully and tap into their knowledge.

Fail 3: Running the business was too time consuming

How to avoid: Don’t expect to make your first million in your first few months. Take it slow, set yourself small goals and celebrate your success. It can feel isolating running a business from home so make sure you get a good support network around you.

All in all, don’t underestimate the importance of good planning! Do your research early, make sure your numbers stack up, and be realistic. 

But if you do fail, don’t beat yourself up about it. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have experienced some epic fails in their time.

Annabel says everyone has times when they want to give up and difficult times along the way when building a business. This can make you think, ‘is it worth all this hassle?’, but if you have this driving passion then you can’t give up.

Your business failures can also often lead to some of your most defining moments. 

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Jazz Gakhal

Jazz Gakhal
Last Updated: 06 Aug 2015