Op-Ed: 8 of 10 Startups Fail, Here’s How to Improve Your Odds

It definitely takes more than great ideas and ambition to build a successful business. It takes flawless execution and the right tools. Here’s a look at 7 areas...

New entrepreneurs emerge every day. As Forbes reports, “Approximately 543,000 new businesses get started each month (but more employer businesses shut down than start up each month).” I remember when I first started my business. I recall the excitement … and the anxiety. The success or failure of my business was totally up to me. While I was anxious about my new company, I was also excited about the opportunity to create something unique and provide something of value to the world.

In a recent Forbes article, research suggests that 8 out of 10 businesses will fail in the first year. Yes! That means that 80% of new businesses will not survive. The bright side, however, is that 20% of new businesses actually succeed. I am glad to be part of that 20%. However, it has not always been an easy journey for me.

My business almost failed on three separate occasions. In addition, it took me almost five years to even become profitable. However, I would not trade anything for the lessons I learned along the way. It definitely takes more than great ideas and ambition to build a successful business. It takes flawless execution and the right tools.

Here’s a look at 7 areas you will need to improve in order to succeed.


  1. Decisiveness

    Your ability to make sound business decisions will determine the success or failure of your business. In order to make informed decisions you will have to do some research. However, as an entrepreneur you are the chief decision maker of your business. Indecision can cost you opportunity and create frustration within your organization. Indecision also creates a toxic culture and diminishes your respect as the business owner.

  2. Confidence

    While there’s a thin line between pride and humility, confidence is vital to your overall business success. Walk the walk and talk the talk. Dress in a way that will cause you to be respected as an entrepreneur. Communicate effectively and exemplify that you are knowledgeable about the subject matter. Confidence will close more deals than cowardice ever will. Know that you are worthy of a thriving business and exude the confidence that what you offer is viable and valuable.

  3. Advanced Sales Skills

    Honestly, I hated sales, but I knew in order to be a successful business owner I had to learn the science of sales. Your product or service will not sell itself. You are the spokesperson and the face of the brand. You have to get out and connect with your customers. If you don’t have any customers then you need to show up in places where your ideal customers are. Your business will never experience record-breaking sales if nobody has seen your business. A business that is concealed will never be considered. Great salespeople understand that mixing product knowledge with exceptional people skills is vital to closing the deal.

  4. Strong Financial Acumen

    As a college finance major, I think one of my greatest advantages was my strong financial acumen. If you are going to be a business owner you have to improve your financial literacy. You need to understand financial statements. You also need to understand business cycles. You must understand how all decisions impact the bottom line of your business.

    While some entrepreneurs say they will outsource this function to someone else, let me remind you that you are still responsible for the financial success or failure of your business. You need to know how money is being managed and how profitable your business truly is. You cannot truly assess the financial health of an organization without checking the numbers. The numbers are the scorecard and the progress report that reveals whether or not your business is making the grade.

  5. Wise Counsel

    I am so thankful for business mentors and coaches in my life. As I stated earlier, my business almost went under on three different occasions. During that time I turned to mentors and business coaches to help me sort through everything. My initial thought was that the business would not be able to continue. But after getting wise counsel, not only did my business turnaround but my business is thriving.

    You need wise counsel because every business has blind spots. You must enlist help from individuals that have traveled the same route and that know how to guide you to success. A lot of mistakes can be avoided simply through mentorship. You need someone that can see farther than you can if you want your business to succeed.

  6. Passion

    Passion is the drive that great entrepreneurs must have to be successful. As an entrepreneur, you will be misunderstood and often times isolated from family and friends. It is very difficult for family and friends to understand the drive of an entrepreneur.

    In the early years of my business I felt totally alone. Then I realized that community is so important for entrepreneurs. You have to find a way to network online (and in your local community) with other entrepreneurs. You will be empowered and encouraged by those that share your entrepreneurial spirit. Passion is what sustains entrepreneurs in the process to success.

  7. Perseverance

    If you want to live your entrepreneurial dream you will have to possess a great deal of perseverance. I remember all the obstacles I faced in the early days of my business. I was trying to secure capital, attract clients, and market my business with no success.

    Every time a door would close in my face I would remind myself that there’s a “yes.” I was determined to keep pushing until I found the door that held my “yes.” Now doors have opened to me all over the world. I have been on platforms I never imagined possible. Perseverance preserved me and produced a successful business.


Jamelle Sanders is the CEO of Jamelle Sanders International. Jamelle is committed to empowering entrepreneurs and leaders to live up to their true potential and to profit wildly in their businesses. Jamelle is a life coach, author, leading empowerment specialist and highly respected thought leader. Jamelle has successfully empowered leaders and entrepreneurs around the world to succeed in business and in life. Connect with @JamelleSanders on Twitter.


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