Business Failure Is Common, But Don’t Let That Stop You

New businesses fail by the thousands.

They open to great fanfare in a strip shopping center, on a downtown street corner, or perhaps in someone’s garage. Then quietly they vanish, victim to a weak economy, poor planning, limited resources or simply because the entrepreneur’s vision was a bad idea right from the get-go.

Yet, despite the potential woes involved in launching a business, there are also plenty of rewards – and opportunities, says Adam Witty, an entrepreneur himself and CEO of Advantage Media, which helps CEOs, entrepreneurs and professionals build their authority in their fields by publishing a book.

“Ultimately, the only way to truly find out whether a person can succeed as an entrepreneur is to do it, no matter how unsettling that first step might be,” says Witty, who is also the ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

Witty offers the following advice to those on the verge of taking that entrepreneurial plunge: 

  • Accept that you will make mistakes. Some people allow themselves to be bullied by their fears of making a mistake, and that prevents them from taking the necessary steps to achieve their goals. “You will make mistakes,” Witty says. “The important thing is to learn and grow from those mistakes.”
  • Be ready to adapt. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and a changing world is one of the most important attributes a business owner can have, Witty says. “Businesses that don’t adapt are destined for failure,” he says. “What works well for you right now may not work a year from now or five years from now as consumer habits, technology or other factors change. You need to understand how those changes affect you and determine what you need to do to adjust to new conditions.”
  • Create a stable foundation. To build a world-class organization, Witty says, you need a stable foundation. “To me, that foundation is your core purpose, your core values, and your BHAG,” he says. BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, and is something a company can shoot for that others might consider impossible. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined BHAG in their book Built to Last. “When you craft a core purpose, core values and a BHAG,” Witty says, “you can create company-wide excitement that motivates your team.”
  • Don’t be in a hiring rush. Take your time with hiring so you can find the best candidates. “The approach should be to hire slowly and fire quickly,” Witty says. “Most businesses do the opposite.”

Finally, Witty recommends that entrepreneurs think of themselves as a brand.

“Naturally, if you launch a business, you will think in terms of your company brand,” Witty says. “But go a step further. It’s valuable to promote your personal brand, building your visibility and credibility in your field. People like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos have intentionally promoted their personal brands because they understand that being seen as an authority is good for business.”

Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the founder and CEO of Advantage Media. Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.

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