Owning Your Own Business Can Be Rewarding

You And Your Business

Owning and managing your own successful business can be the most rewarding experience of a lifetime. It represents achievement on many levels, brings peer recognition and can result in great wealth. Business success can provide a life view of reality that is difficult, perhaps impossible to achieve as an employee. It can also be the most frustrating undertaking an individual or group of people will ever attempt. The hurdles that seem to crop up in an endless line at the most inopportune moments can sap the energy and cloud the vision of the most dedicated, hard driving, type A personalities.

Business

It is an uncomfortable but unfortunately accurate statistic that the majority of business startups will fail within the first two years. Of the ones that survive, only about five percent will become the success the founders dreamed of. This is equally true for two lifelong girlfriends who decide to open that women’s boutique they have always dreamed of as it is for the group of genius level computer geeks who spin off from Giant Computer Inc. with grandiose schemes of becoming the next ®Apple or ®Microsoft.

Eric T. Wagner, in his blog (September 12, 2013), references the Bloomberg business statistic stating that eight out of ten of business start-ups fail in the first eighteen months of operation. That’s eighty percent who will crash and burn! The founders will see dreams, and often a large amount of money go up in smoke, or, what can be more painful, die with a whimper. The list of reasons for failure could in itself fill a book, ranging from just plain incompetence, to the difficulties encountered as people struggle to overcome the incredible odds against success, or the most common of reasons, a simple a lack of persistence.

But underlying these is a greater threat.

All too often, the business, once it gets past its first stumbling year or two, will stagnate and die from its own internal cancerous tumors. Small, poorly conceived decisions, often made with the best of intentions, affect the organization to the extent that management suddenly finds itself faced with an ineffective team. An organization made up of departments that are so isolated and so intent on protecting their own turf that they might as well be individual foreign countries—each with its own language and customs.

What happens along the way that turns a dynamic fast growing successful business into a stagnant plodding salt mine? Why do the good employees spend their days honing their resumes while the rest figure out ways to stretch a one hour job to take the entire morning, or better yet, an entire day, thus insuring overtime. Why is it that large companies are usually dull places to work, that kill initiative, where maintaining the status quo rather than striving for excellence is not only pervasive, but the preferred modus operandi? Too often they become organizations where following procedures rather than achieving progress is the mode of operation.

Why for example are most employees in large corporations unhappy? Why do they stay? What is it about large, bureaucratic organizations that is so bad for morale? Why is it that most employees see the executives as being totally out of touch? Why does the myth persist that large organizations provide better security than small organizations?

These blog posts will illustrate some of the subtle and not so subtle ways that organizations set themselves up for failure. This often happens with no one even knowing they’re doing it. Suddenly they find themselves with a runaway train wreck, hemorrhaging cash, losing people, and heading with a full head of steam into oblivion.

This is written by a person who has seen the good and bad of industry and business. A successful retired businessman who has made as many bad decisions as good ones, who speaks not from graduate school business model theory, but from the bruises, scabs, and scars of slugging it out day-to-day in the real world of product manufacturing, customer relations, and bottom line profit and loss.

We will explore the reasons why good productive small businesses go bad as they grow. We look into the causes, bad decisions and stupid decisions that seem like such good ideas up front but in actuality destroy that which they are supposed to help. Decisions like making cost savings cutbacks, usually promulgated by an overzealous accounting department that only sees bottom line dollars and cents, not understanding the cost of lost human energy. Boneheaded errors like centralizing operations to the extent that support services become control centers. Stupid decisions like solving problems by adding additional levels of management.

This blog raises lots of questions.

The next several blogs explores them one at a time, giving insight and observations gleaned over a forty-year career. Stay tuned!

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Bill Blowers is an Academy Award recipient and author who speaks publicly to groups and organizations. As a Titanic authority he presents compelling evidence unraveling the mystery at sea on April 15, 1912. Having built his engineering business from a garage operation to a major corporation he shares his strategies with companies across the globe through his articles and blog.