The Ten Secrets of Failure

by Harold A. Meyer, III

There are ten absolutely deadly causes of failure for an entrepreneur, inventor or small business person. If you want to kill your company, here are a few suggested EASY ways to do it. Just be:

1. FEARFUL --Be afraid of investing any precious money, even for a great product. Be afraid of failure. Be so afraid of losing everything that you will kill a good product just because of your own fear. Be so afraid of making any moves that you would rather do nothing. Have everything be contingent on everything else. Expect everybody else to fund your company rather than reaching into your own pocket.

2. SHORTSIGHTED --Donít worry about or have vision for future needs or problems. Only concentrate on present matters. If it doesnít produce any money in the first few months (or gasp! Years!) it probably would never work anyway. I mean all great inventors and business successes got rich from the word Ďgo,í right?

3. PASSIVE --Conduct no market research, donít worry about marketing. If itís a good product, the world will beat a path to your door, right? Donít be too aggressive, because Ďnobody likes a pushy person.í If customers canít see the value of the product immediately, move on; they would never later purchase the item, even if there is missing and needed infrastructure. Delegate vital functions like marketing to other people. Donít breath down their backs, give them the freedom to kill your business.

4. COMPLACENT --Donít be too cynical or paranoid. Letís say youíre in the computer business. Letís say your company produces a new type of software for a brand new internet browsing market that is just exploding. Letís say your company is the hottest of the hot and that it is one of the most eagerly anticipated Initial Public Offerings (IPO) of all time and that billions of dollars of value are created almost overnight. OK, now never never never worry that a major computer operating system company would turn their company on a dime and come after your market. I mean, donít be ridiculous!

5. WISHFUL --Completely kid yourself about the market need for your product. Get a few friends or family to provide token encouragement or initial positive feedback. Donít listen to the few critics, even better donít listen to the specific problems or specified flaws that they cite in their criticism of the proposal. Look at the world the way you want it to be, not the way it is. Donít listen to anybody.

6. ABSTRACT --Donít build a prototype or samples. Donít reduce it to practice. Donít demonstrate it. Donít patent it. Donít do brochures. Donít even have business cards printed, gosh they are so darn expensive! Donít bother to write a business plan because those darn things always just gather dust anyway. And packaging, well you donít need that either right now.

7. DISTRACTED --Work another job and put your project on the back burner. Give in to the nagging wife. Donít be a fanatic, I mean look at Bill Gates. That guy was absolutely fanatical about his company in the first few years and had no life.

8. COMMITTED --Give away a lot of stock in the company. Especially give away over half the stock so you can get fired or the company can get thrown into bankruptcy without your consent. Get your personal life tied up in the business either with family or with a love affair. Donít reduce obligations and expectations to writing, take people into the organization with vague promises, misunderstandings and open-ended obligations. Donít be dictatorial, demanding or too hands-on. Give other people full reign with your business. Be easily influenced by every voice that speaks.

9. PENURIOUS --Be frugal with everything. Try to do everything, I mean absolutely everything, yourself. Donít delegate a thing. Donít hire consultants or others if you can do the work yourself, even if that means neglecting other more vital functions. For example, if the Chairman of the Board could save money by doing the landscaping on the company headquarter premises, even if it means skipping meetings, reports, or phone calls --he should do it.

10. RESIGNED --If you are broke or discouraged, quit and stop doing what you are doing, especially if you are the only person who really understands what you are doing, the proprietary features, the grand overall objective, or the real market for your product.

© 4/1997 by the author

Harold A. Meyer, III, 33, is Chairman of The Hook Appropriate Technology, a performance based licensing, marketing and new product development company. Meyer is also President of the non-profit group, THE INNOVATORS Guild of Danbury, CT. He can be reached at: The Hook Appropriate Technology, 52 Bank Street, Suite A, New Milford, CT, 06776-2706 USA. VOICE: 800-HOOK-VOX, EMAIL:, WEB: <=Click here to send Email with comments. <=Click here to return to THE HOOK's Main page.

©1997. Page last updated 5/27/98