According to more than a few sources, many online businesses fail; over 90% within the first 120 days of start-up. Why?
It’s not a straightforward question to answer when you consider how many factors go towards making a business successful.
In this post, I’m going to focus on two main reasons.
Every so-called ‘failed’ business must examine itself for specifics but I’m going to contend that the 90% failure statistic can broadly be divided into two camps, each defined by their own main reason for failure.
Before looking at the main reason each of these groups fails, I want to qualify what I mean by failure.
Qualifying the Word ‘failure’
Author, C.S. Lewis said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” What he meant is that we can’t be successful without failing along the way.
Think of a baby, learning to walk. They don’t get up for the first time and sprint across the room.
There is a process of learning that takes place which involves plenty of experimentation, falling, making adjustments, getting up and trying again, until they are successful.
This is true for all of us otherwise, there would be a whole lot of adults languishing around our ankles having never learned to walk. There aren’t, and as far as I’m aware there is no secret place where such adults are being hidden from the rest of us.
When we are born we are all capable of dealing with failure on our way to success. As we get older and into adulthood, we tend not to do this.
We criticize and judge ourselves for failing as if it’s something bad. Then sadly we often give up completely. In my opinion, you only ever fail completely when you give up.
We are all ‘flawed’ and all fail at times. The key is knowing why this happens to you so that you can do what’s required to prevent the exact same failure happening again.
Why the Majority of Online Businesses Fail
In my opinion, the majority of online businesses fail because those starting them are not very serious about what they’re doing.
Unlike brick and mortar business, online businesses are easier to start. They usually require less capital investment and any risk is minimal.
For this reason, online businesses are often not treated with the seriousness required to be successful. How often do you hear that a new online entrepreneur has completed a business plan for example? In my experience, very seldom.
Online businesses are easier to start but it’s also easier to walk away from them. In this event, the worst case scenario is likely to be facing up to an angry partner about why the credit card has been maxed out.
This is not quite the same for traditional business where it’s likely you’ll have to front up to investment partners or the bank who are unlikely to be quite as forgiving as your life partner.
So often I hear from people who want to start a business without spending any money. This tells me they’re not serious.
While it may not be as costly to start an online venture, you still require start up and maintenance capital.
Can you do it for free? Maybe. Have others done it successfully? Probably, but very few.
When you’re not serious about your business you also won’t invest in the long term time required to get you to success. So if you’re not making the squillions of dollars like the sales page said you’d be doing after a few weeks or months you give up.
Then there’s the daily time investment required. If watching television, sleeping or anything else more important, your business is not going to happen.
Most importantly, If you’re not that serious about building a business there’s a good chance you don’t have a big enough reason why you want to have a business. Just wanting to make a bit of extra money won’t be enough. In fact making any amount of money is not a good enough reason.
There has to be sufficient leverage to help you take the required action to be successful. If you hate your day job enough then you might have a good enough reason.
Human beings will do anything to avoid pain. The pain associated with your business has to be less than the pain you associate with your day job. Then you may have a good enough reason to be serious.
Is your mother going to die a slow, painful death unless you can raise enough money to pay for her ongoing medical treatment?
Are your children going to have to go the worst state school in the area unless you can raise the funds to send them to a private school?
Now you may have some big reasons to be successful. It’s not about the money but what the money can give you and also not give you unless you are successful.
Unfortunately, online businesses are often promoted as being the magical solution to all your money woes. After having been scammed by the ‘one button press miracle promises’ and ‘get rich quick schemes’ you find out you’ve been lied to, again, and give up, again.
If you fall into the above group there’s every chance you’ll fail so why bother starting? If you’re not serious about business, do yourself a favor and give it a skip then you’ll also avoid failure.
Why Some Online Businesses Fail
Then you may be someone who gives the impression you’re serious about your business. You appear to have everything required to be successful.
You’ve often invested in training, tools, and support. You know what to do, you know how to do it and you have the power to do it. But, you don’t do it. This leads you into a cycle of failure, and often you repeat this over and over again, sometimes without even realizing it. Let me show you how this happens.
When you decide to start an online business you’re usually very excited about it.
You’re about to change your life, to do something you haven’t done before, to improve your life and often the lives of others.
You have a great feeling of hope and optimism within. You may be so excited you also tell others about your new plans.
As long as you take action while you feel like this, you create motivation and momentum. Unfortunately, some just enjoy the feeling of excitement without taking any action. When this happens all you’re doing is enjoying the ‘dream’.
But your emotions are always changing. The very root word, ‘motion’ means moving. If you wait too long the excited feeling starts to wane. From here you move into the next phase.
Now all you’re left with are the actions you must take to move you forward.
In fact, you may start to feel the opposite, of excited – doubtful, fearful or that you simply ‘don’t feel like it.’
So you avoid doing whatever it is you need to do to move forward. From here it’s an easy step to the next phase.
If you’ve told others about your plans then it’s about now they’ll start asking you how it’s all going.
Even if you didn’t tell someone else, your faithful friend, ‘your mind’ will step in and ask you the same question.
Since you’ve avoided taking action you’ll offer what you’ve told yourself are ‘legitimate reasons’ for why you haven’t taken any action.
I’m still learning what to do or I don’t know what to do or It’s been too cold to get up early in the morning and so on. But there’s nothing legitimate about any of it. They are simply excuses.
But there’s nothing legitimate about any of it. They are simply excuses. By this stage, you are well on your way to failure as you enter the last phase.
The reason why this is the end of the road is because when you blame anybody or anything other than yourself for your failure you have given away all your power.
It’s the economy’s fault, the new President’s fault, your wife’s fault etc. Now your success is dependent on someone or something else that you have no control over and so it’s the end and giving up, abandoning the project is inevitable.
As explained earlier if you learn where you went wrong and change it then next time or the time after you might actually succeed. If you don’t, you simply become a serial failure by repeating the same cycle over and over again with the next new ‘shiny business opportunity.’
If you look at the cycle it’s plain to see that if you could stop the avoidance phase from happening then you’d be able to keep going towards success.
Another word for avoidance is procrastination so for some reason this group even though they appear to have everything they require to be successful procrastinate which in the end leads to failure.
Read Stop Procrastinating Help next and I’ll give you four reasons why people procrastinate. When you know which of these may cause you to procrastinate you’ll know what to do to do next.
If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything else to do with online business please leave them below.