Business Success or Failure – What is the Primary Cause?

After selling literally hundreds of franchise businesses, top broker Len Ferguson delivers some home truths on the key difference between business success and failure.


In my business I deal with a lot of small business owners and I guess I have seen my fair share or good and poor performing businesses. I find that buyers are curious and often ask me why some business owners do well, while other struggle and in the end fail. Overall the general perception is that external factors are the primary cause of success or failure for a small business. Things like having a great location, top brand or products, and while this is helpful, this is not the primary reason for a businesses success or failure in my experience. 

Be positive

What I find far more influential to a business’ success or failure is how the business owner manages their business. And I am not talking about management skill here, although again, that is also helpful, I am talking about their attitude and more to the point a positive attitude.  “Yeah, yeah”, I hear you say, as we’ve all heard this before! But do you really understand how important this is?

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Think about it for a second, what have been your bad experiences with businesses as a customer? I’d bet most bad experiences have been due to a poor attitude or worse, a negative attitude from a staff member or even the owner themselves. I want to expand on this a little for you with a view to helping you avoid making what I believe is the most influential blunders failing business owners make. 

Your attitude sets your results. A positive attitude leads to a positive business. I have experienced business owners talking their business down, talking their customers down and even talking their staff down. Generally, they have a negative attitude towards their business, so guess what their business results looked like? You may recognise some of these comments if heard; “Customers are just tyre kickers”, “Staff are lazy and don’t want to learn”, “Business is really bad at the moment”,

“The franchisor is not doing anything to help us” etc, etc. Once this language and attitude permeates through your business, your results will start to decline. You have given yourself, your business and your staff the excuse needed to not try as hard, if at all. Your attitude is negative, this is toxic to your businesses growth prospects. Above and below the line thinking. This strategy has been around for a while now in business and I would suggest printing this out and putting it up in your office. Above the line thinking is where you need to be, and it in an extension to having a positive attitude. Below the line thinking is the reverse and where businesses start to fail. Have a look at the list below and think if any of these behaviours ring true for you or your team members.


Don’t get bogged down

I see a lot of business owners worrying about things that are just outside of their control. It is just such a waste of time. Worse still is when they go ahead and disrupt their whole team with it. Don’t get bogged down with things that you can’t change and refocus on things that you can change and improve.

Rally when the going gets tough. It is easy to get down in the dumps when things are just no going your way. Below the line thinking starts to kick in and as humans we start to look at external factors and blame others. My advice here is to rally when things are not going your way. Refocus on above the line behaviours and work on things that are within your control. Change will take longer than you think it should, so stay on track and rally your business and team. Stay unemotional.

Stay pragmatic

Above all it is best to stay pragmatic about your business and its performance. This can be hard, but it is vital for you to employ the strategies I have highlighted above. Review pros and cons of a situation unemotionally and set out a plan with above the line thinking and behaviours to set the correct course for you and your business in any scenario. You get what you deserve. 

At the end of the day your business will be a product of how you manage it. Are you positive, focused and put your energy into things that you can control and affect positively? The strategies I have highlighted above can be the strategies that will have the greatest affect on your businesses performance. They can be learned, practised and mastered. Business owners that have mastered them have strong businesses that are well run and profitable. I would strongly encourage you to work on implementing these into your business today and start build a business that you deserve…! 

Good luck with it all and I hope this has helped.