Nothing is guaranteed in business.
Starting a company is hard.
Running a company successfully is even harder.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the survival rate of new businesses are:
- 80% survive the first 2 years, 20% fail.
- 55% survive the first 5 years, 45% fail.
- 35% survive the first 10 years, 65% fail.
- 25% survive the first 15 years, 75% fail.
Most companies fail before being in business for 10 years.
Why is it so hard to stay in business?
Each business owner has to make decisions every day with incomplete information, while navigating a million potential paths forward, not knowing which path will lead to success.
If you choose well, you’ll find a path with enough customers to keep you in business.
If you choose poorly, and you don’t learn from your mistakes fast enough, your business dies.
Or, like many businesses, you simply run out of money before getting off the ground.
I’ve been there.
I’ve tried to start several companies that never saw the light of day.
Most of my failed businesses died because…
- I simply didn’t know what I was doing. I was ambitious, but ignorant.
- I didn’t know why I was doing it clearly enough.
- I didn’t know what to focus on.
- I didn’t know what it would take to make it work.
- I lost interest and gave up too early.
- Or I just ran out of money.
Is it even worth the trouble to start a business?
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: It really depends on you want. What do you want your lived experience on this Earth to be? Starting a business can be more stressful and painful than working for someone else or climbing the corporate ladder, but it is definitely a wilder adventure, if that’s what you want. It comes with the potential for higher highs, and lower lows.
All the risk was on me. That pressure forced me to wake up, both metaphorically and physically, and get to work solving the day’s problems.
It seems to require every possible skill I can access. There’s room to be a full human instead of limiting myself to one area of one department at a bigger company. For me, it’s more fun to have a variety of work, or at least the ability to choose what type of work to focus on at any given time.
The autonomy and freedom you get from starting a business comes at a high cost:
- Daily uncertainty.
- Being faced with the decision to go into debt to stay alive, or close the business.
- Being exposed to more criticism publicly.
- Finding and managing employees.
- Finding and keeping customers.
- And much more.
Are you guaranteed to get financially rich?
No. Definitely not a guarantee. But it might increase your chances.
*It’s worth noting that there are many corporate jobs out there that pay more than the average entrepreneur makes. If there’s something you enjoy that you can get paid well for at a big company with great benefits… maybe do that and enjoy life! Put your extra money into real estate, stocks, or an extra vacation with the fam and chill.
But as the good book says:
All hard work brings a profit,Proverbs 14:23, The Holy Bible, New International Version
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
You may not “get rich” after launching your first business, or even your first six businesses.
But if you pay attention, you may learn the key to your future success along the way.
The many failures I’ve survived, and the few wins that have helped me thrive, have taught me valuable lessons.
Some of the most powerful enlightening moments I’ve had in life have come from the experience of running and growing a business.
That painful wisdom gained from experience seems to be my best teacher.
I’m dedicated to learning my lessons so I don’t have to repeat my failures, but every year I find new ways to fail.
In addition to trying to start my own companies, I’ve also worked in a variety of roles at other people’s companies (or OPC).
No matter how good the job was, I always had an itch for ownership.
After many jobs, reading lots of books, and learning Naval’s principles for building wealth; it became clear to me that my desire to start my own business, or at least own a small part of a business, was not just my own ambitious greed: It was in fact a wise path forward.
Now I build, invest in, or advise companies.
And yes, most of those companies have already failed.
A small handful of them still exist.
And only a few are successful.
But you only need one.
One successful business can change your life.
That’s what keeps the hope alive for so many who dream of starting their own business.
Principles for Growth in the Midst of Chaos
Over the years I’ve noticed a few patterns that seem to be true.
If a business owner wants to grow, and successfully achieves that growth they were looking for, they usually follow these principles. They allow you to grow in the midst of a chaotic world and uncertain markets.
These growth principles will help anyone create a daily habit of high performance.
A massive meaningful goal. (Similar to Peter Diamandis Massively Transformative Purpose) What is worth spending your life on? A clear vision toward a worthy goal that creates win-win-win outcomes. You can build this kind of vision for yourself and your company by making sure your vision is…
- a win for you and your team,
- a win for your customers,
- and a win for the world.
The clearer and bigger the vision, the easier all your decisions will be.
Elon Musk is an expert at creating a big clear vision for his companies. Each of his companies make the world better by solving a massive problem, which gives his customers a great product/service, and excites his team with fulfilling high-paying work.
This type of goal is something everyone can get excited about, which helps you with the next two: Energy and Focus.
Your energy determines the amount of progress you can make each day. Over the long run this determines how long it will take to reach your goals.
You need a lot of energy to grind through whatever is necessary to see your vision come to life.
Become the best version of yourself so you can do your best work.
Your health must be on point: Sleep, fitness, food, relationships… all of it matters.
Only workout on the days you want to perform at your best. Yeah, that’s all days. At least go for a 30 minute walk in the sun.
Most of all, prioritize your mental health, or you’ll simply give up too early.
Convince yourself that your vision is a net positive for the world. The core of your morality should agree with your work.
This prevents any conflicts within yourself during the times when you have to choose between what other people think is important, and what you know is needed to accomplish your goal.
You should believe that you are doing actual good. This gives a natural energy that can be replaced.
If needed, use coffee, tea, or other healthy stimulants to kickstart your mornings, but don’t rely on them throughout the day, or you will physically burnout since they dim your natural sense of timing and your need for rest.
By optimizing your energy you will be excited to take action every day without the need for discipline.
Where do you focus your Time, Energy, and Attention (TEA)? The discipline and internal integrity to focus on your next most important task is critical. Your TEA is limited. Don’t spill it on anything unworthy of your life force.
- Focus your time: Make progress toward your most important goal every day. Intentionally schedule your time with that goal being the priority above all else. Remove or delegate distractions and lesser priorities, until that one is done.
- Focus your attention: Read, listen to, and watch information that helps you solve your next biggest problem. See how others have done it. Life is an open-book test. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Seek wisdom.
- Focus your energy: Budget your energy for what’s important. Put your best into your most important task. If you wait until you’re tired to tackle a hard problem, you probably won’t have what it takes to do it well.
With a massive clear Vision, persistent Energy, and obsessive Focus your company will grow.