Why Do Businesses Fail?

The beliefs you and I hold are very powerful. Unfortunately, our experiences cannot always be trusted, because as the observer, our biases influence and form what we think we see and believe. You experienced something and it didn’t work. The results from that experience begin to form an opinion. Then, you tried it again and the results were the same.  It’s now confirmed, and you have the experiences to back it up.  You can now confidently say “been there… done that”.  Then you remind yourself of the definition of insanity ” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. And now you have yet another reason to stop! Ha! So, you give yourself permission to stop doing whatever it was you were doing. Somehow, the brain blocks out all the other facts that are contrary to your experience and the door quietly closes.

As flawed humans, we occasionally come to wrong conclusions based on our personal experiences and this, combined with our unwillingness to keep going, leads to a closed door. Dan Pena called our unwillingness to continue our “emotional bank account”. He wisely recommends that keeping your emotional bank account full of fortitude, perseverance, resourcefulness, etc. is more important than money. Without it, the doors that allow for future opportunities to reach you are closed. Instead of continuing to push forward, we tell ourselves it’s just not possible.

A 99% True Story

I recently ran into a friend, Tim, (Tim is not his real name, it’s Bill, but he hates it when I use his real name). I have known Tim since the early 90’s. He had already been in business for 10-15
years prior to us becoming friends. He is a plumber and a darn good one.  On many occasions he would remark that he just couldn’t find good help. Occasionally Tim would hire someone and after a few months of frustration the employee would either quit or get fired. Over the years he would sporadically hire new people only to let them go for the same reasons: drugs, poor workmanship, or unreliability. His conclusion that you can’t find good help is based on personal experiences and a bankrupt emotional bank account which keeps him from continuing to search. Tim’s ego eagerly awaits his final rubber stamp. (This is a big metaphorical rubber stamp).

“It’s not you Tim. You obviously tried. The people of today suck! You just can’t find good help, and therefore it’s impossible to grow this business!”

The door closes and the latch slides across, and the ego shakes a red spray can from SW and sprays on the door: The opportunity for searching for additional plumbers is now closed. The ego then holds the spray can upside down to clean the valve, so it is ready for future signs.

Is Tim’s Conclusion Right?

Is finding good help easy? Of course not.  If it was easy, everyone would have a thriving business and the whole world would look like Chic-fil-A.

  • Chic-fil-A must have a door wedge and a hook at the top of the door that is latched to the wall preventing it from closing. I envision their big double doors read “Are you polite, energetic, cheerful?? Come one, come all and work for us today!

Is It Easy to Find Good Help?

No, but it is even harder to find good people if you quit looking for them.

You have every reason to feel unenthusiastic about starting the process over again. After all, who wants to go through that experience again. But at what cost is this to the income you are aiming for?

What are the results of our hero’s conclusions? First, he cannot accept any job that requires 2 or more people. Ouch! His business is not sellable. OUCH!!

People don’t call him for large jobs. That hurts too.

Perhaps I am wrong, I often am on these things, but maybe it’s just easier for Tim to spare himself the drudgery and disappointment of trying to find good help. That, unfortunately, means his doors of opportunity are closed and locked tight. But is Tim aware of it? Does he not realize the consequences of a very subtle, but powerful decision? I’m sure if I asked Tim, “Tim, if I could snap a finger and bring you an awesome plumber would you hire him?” “Of course!” would be his reply. Companies don’t grow automatically. So here is the crucial point: Tim doesn’t know he shut the door, and so when there is an opportunity on the other side, he will never see it, hear it or get it. He’s crippled his chances to grow.

Tim no longer needs to focus on growing his business. He has consciously or unconsciously let himself off the hook. His negative experiences, plus a bankrupt emotional account and his ego, have only left one door open. It is called “The only jobs I will take are jobs I can do by myself.”

Can I ask you a question?

Question Section

Is it possible that you have unknowingly closed a door that could be opened?

Have you struggled at cold calling and networking and concluded it's not worth you’re your time and effort?

Have you procrastinated finding new customers through networking and phone calls because you just don’t have the time?

Have you said no to opportunities because you didn’t have the manpower (and you didn’t ask your neighbor franchisee’s if they had anyone?

Have you had some bad experiences when hiring a handyman? Have those experiences stopped you in the last 3 months from finding a replacement? Is it possible that door is closed?

Filling up your emotional bank account is first and foremost. How might this be done?

You could start with these questions:  How much money do you make from one painter per day? How much money do you make from one handyman per day? What combinations of workers would be best to reach your desired level of income? Once you figure this out, you can create a plan a strategy.

If your desired income would require you to have 5 decent handyman and 20 decent painters for example, does that sound impossible? If it sounds obtainable, great! If not, re-read the Question Section. Look at any object you can from where you are sitting. Look at the table, the chair, the electronic device you are reading this from, the house, whatever. How many people were in the design phase, management phase, cost analysis, and in the manufacturing and shipping of it? Is it possible that whatever object you choose, the staff to construct that is larger and more complicated than the staff and systems you need for you to reach your desired income? My point is, millions of people have faced the same challenges you have on the way to creating businesses much bigger than ours.

How to Avoid Emotional Bankruptcy?

Having a plan and sticking to it regardless of how difficult or hectic your day is, will keep you focused and keep your doors open.  The goals and desires you have are attainable. You are running a business in the greatest country and hottest economy in the world! But to reach your desired income, it will require some small but continuous changes from you! The “Daily Activity Sheet” in the “Increase Profit Folder” I’ve found to be very helpful for me personally. It forces me to be honest and ask questions about how I spent my day, and did it help me get closer to my goals. Perhaps you don’t need a tool like this, but if you could use a little bit of daily self-evaluation, you might want to give it a try.

Stay away from excuses because they will drain your emotional bank account. And besides people can see through an excuse before the sentence is even completed. Excuses are for adolescents and low achievers, not professionals like you. It’s not always easy to recognize your own closed doors. They are not obvious to the one who shut them. It is camouflaged with our own experiences and ego that is quick to make an excuse. So keep your eyes open, hold yourself accountable, and make something good happen!

COVID-19 Update: Klappenberger & Son Is Still Open For Business

Klappenberger & Son is still open for business during COVID-19