The 5 Not-So-Silent Killers of Big and Small Businesses (and How to Avoid Them)

Symptoms of failing businesses

We constantly hear about how the bulk of new businesses fail, but how often do we step back and look at the big picture of why?

Sure, there are obvious symptoms of failing businesses including crowded competition and poorly planned products. Yet there’s so much more to why businesses fail than being in the seemingly wrong place at the wrong time.

In fact, the bulk of the reasons why companies go under can be tied to five specific factors. Below we’ve broken down what often stops budding companies in their tracks and what can be done to ultimately avoid these not-so-silent snafus.

Failure to Assess Risk

Risk management and keeping up with different types of compliances is a necessary hurdle for big businesses today.

From avoiding legal trouble to costly compliance issues, having a pulse on such details of a company is crucial for long-term survival. Although monitoring these metrics is arguably easier than ever with the help of a GRC solutions, risk and compliance issues are still the cause of many big business headaches.

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Excessive Hiring

Growth is certainly a positive for most companies, but growing too quickly can serve as a kiss of death. By bringing on too much talent at once, companies tend to create roles for the sake of it or hemorrhaging money on new positions that just don’t make sense.

There’s a reason why lean startups today stress the need to do as much as you can with a small team, outsourcing here and there as deemed necessary.

Overexpansion

On a similar note, expanding into new territories too quickly is one of the most common business growing pains. In an era of global ecommerce, for example, it’s easy to assume that a company can simply thrive in a new market without much of a problem.

Yet considering factors such as shipping costs, language barriers and inventory issues, expansion is something that should never be an on-the- fly decision.

Copycatting

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but copycatting your competitors won’t do you many favors in the long-run.

Think about the boom of social networks in the mid-2000’s and how Facebook is the only name from that era still standing. Their initial resistance to ads and emphasis on personal relationships represented their unique selling proposition in the face of many spammy, bloated competitors.

Poor Marketing

Whether due to tone-deaf ads or spending far too much on the wrong channels, a disorganized marketing strategy can spell doom for a business trying to get off the ground. While there’s certainly a time and place for paid media, those with small budgets should instead focus on “free” tactics (content marketing, word-of- mouth, networking) and spend wisely on channels with a proven ROI (Facebook ads, SEO, link-building).

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How to Avoid These Common Business Mistakes

In short, steering clear of these errors boils down to three specific steps:

  • Do your homework: businesses must spend ample time researching and gathering data before making any significant financial decisions
  • Take advantage of tech: there are so many software solutions out there to help uncover marketing opportunities, assess risk and clue business owners in on opportunities
  • Have a plan: setting goals on a consistent basis (think: financial milestones, etc) can help businesses stay on course versus getting off-track

Even if you don’t see your business as being anywhere near these issues, at least keep them in the back of your mind. Small problems can quickly snowball into something bigger, so by knowing what to look out for you can make more informed decisions in the meantime.


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