How To Fail in Business

According to which business consultant you ask, anywhere from seven to nine out of every ten new businesses will fail within their first 3 years. And, among those that fail, the owners rarely understand why they failed. In nearly every single case, one of two mistakes, or a combination of both, led to the downfall. This holds true whether we’re talking automobiles, toaster ovens, widgets, or rod building.

The first problem lies with market exposure.  Often I hear from companies who believe advertising is something you do after you’ve become successful. Unfortunately, It doesn’t work that way. Advertising is the first and most important expense for any new business. Any start up business that doesn’t sufficiently budget for advertising isn’t going very far. And free blurbs on internet forums and blogs won’t cut the mustard. Advertising is worth exactly what you pay for it.

The second part of any successful business equation is the value offered to the customer.  Custom rod builder Jim Gamble phrased this in perhaps the best manner I’ve heard. According to him it’s all about the cost to benefit ratio. And he’s dead on the money – as far as the consumer is concerned, this is where the rubber meets the road.

Whether we’re talking blank manufacturers, component supply dealers, magazines, clubs or events, those that have succeeded have offered their customers a great value. Those that have failed have not.

Owners of failed businesses, in rod building or otherwise, are quick to offer the usual excuses, “A competitor said bad things about us,” or “Nobody realized how good our product was.” And there’s plenty more sour grapes where those come from. But if you ask the consumer why they didn’t patronize a business or service, the answer will be much different and nearly always the same – not enough value was offered for the price being charged. In other words, a poor cost to benefit ratio. In the mind of most consumers, that’s all that counts. If you believe otherwise, you’re not apt to succeed in business.

Tom Kirkman



  1. Neil B. on October 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Very well said!

  2. HRemini on October 25, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Nobody that fails in business wants to admit it was their own fault. It is ALWAYS easier on their own egos to blame a business failure on some outside influence such as a competitor, the economy, or the help. Whatever. In the end good businessmen always succeed and bad businessmen always fail.

  3. Marko on October 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    True all. Consumers speak through their pocketbooks and reward those companies that offer them the most for their money. All the rest is wasted effort.

  4. SamT on October 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    There are only a few things that make a business succeed but many things that can cause it to fail. Lately in the custom rod building business I have seen some of the worst and poorest conduct coming from people that are supposed to be adults that I cannot believe it. They will not get any of my business and my bet is that when they fail according to them it will be like you say……… somebody else’s fault. Just cannot believe some of these people these days. Professionalism is dead for many.

  5. Bob Balcombe on November 8, 2010 at 2:54 am

    When I was in business I was selective in my advertising, being a owner operator of a rod repair, reel repair and a custom rod shop. I never advertised specials of any kind. My workmanship keep me going. Word of mouth is your best advertisement. I was interviewed b a couple of radio fishing/hunting sports stations. I gave weekly fishing reports on these stations I did not use my business name. (my voice gave me away.)I was then contacted by a 3 state F/H magazine to do a weekly fishing report, be it lakes rivers or ocean. My shop was located 45 minutes from the Blue Pacific, an was located near 3 great steelhead/salmon rivers.Plus there was nice lakes near by. Not once did I advertise my shop. But here again word of mouth about my reports being right on and the my workmanship was fantastic I survived. In my shop I did not sell bait or any related tackle. I just sold My workmanship and how to fish the local, rivers, lakes an ocean. When I retired in 2000. I had a nice nest egg was able to fish in in Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii and Australia. This was accomplished I believe by my workmanship, honesty and providing my customers what they wanted. It also took allot of hard work and late hours. I starved for the first 3 years. Just remember, know what you are talking about, never BS your customer, know your products inside and out. Todays customers are will read on what to look for in a custom rod do to the net. Never compete with a big box store.
    Good Wraps Bob Yo can contact me at [email protected] I hope I did not break a rule here. I am now retired so my email is not an advertisement