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Top 7 Reasons Why a Business Fails

It’s hard to say goodbye. That’s not just a cliché. Saying goodbye is fairly tough—to a person; to your dream; to your cute little business! It’s tough to accept the fact when your business fails.

You had a dream… you had an idea… you wanted it to work, and you took the bold step to establish a business. But somehow things got haywire. When the circumstances demand the big decision, it is often heart wrenching to curb your emotions and take that big step.

After all, you have spent your money… you have spent your time… you have shed your tears, your blood, and your sweat to build your dream. By now you have an emotional attachment to your business. You feel shattered… you feel embarrassed… you feel ashamed.

Many thoughts run through your head. You console yourself with the thoughts of closing down for a while to get your act together, and starting again when you have the conducive environment. You find yourself determined to give your idea a second shot; albeit with the lessons you have learnt until now. You think about saving your assets until you are ready for the second stint. You consider the associated cost in holding on to the assets for all that time. And when you find it even more challenging to holding on to assets, it breaks you even more.

You ask yourself questions. What if I keep going for a little bit more before calling it a day? Will I really be able to start again? However, sticking on to the business that is not working is tough. You keep injecting money. You keep struggling with your staff, your clients, your sales, and more importantly, yourself.

Closing down a business is not for the faint hearts.

Really. But the good news is: closing down a business makes you tough and wise; only if you realize, that is.

When it is clear the business is failing, it is time to retrospect

What You Need When Your Business Fails?

All it is required to stand up again is courage, will and determination. Courage to face the situation and consequences of your decision to start again. Will to succeed in the face of all adversaries. Determination to make your dream come true.

Failure is not the end of the world. Failure is neither the opposite of success. On contrary, failure is the first step towards success.

Take the heart from what Thomas Edison said after his many unsuccessful attempts in making a light bulb:

“I have learned fifty thousand ways it cannot be done and therefore I am fifty thousand times nearer the final successful experiment.”

Thomas Edison

THIS is the mindset that gets you going. THIS is the mindset you need to achieve your dream.

Stop. Relax. And retrospect on what went wrong.

Why a Business Fails?

It is always good to think twice before starting a new business. According to an article published in Forbes, about 90% of startups fail globally. As a result, only one out of ten turns out to be a prosperous and sustainable business.

There could be several reasons why a business fails.

1. Choosing a Wrong Product

The biggest reason for a failed startup is creating a solution that never really had a problem. Fortune mentioned that about 42% of the startups fail because they work on a product that lacks market need.

You may have a great idea. You may consider your idea the best, and you perceive it to be loved by your clients too. But how would you know if your customers will actually like it? In fact, most entrepreneurs are afraid of their idea being rejected. When you are in love with your idea, I know it is difficult to hear any opposite opinions. But these are the opinions that can save you from even bigger heartbreak of seeing your business shutting down.

Unfortunately, most business owners start without proper market research. They go with their instincts, and just hope everyone likes it.

Lack of market research can be catastrophic for any business.

The method of conducting market research can be different for different businesses. Identify your niche, potential customers, and then depending on your business area, conduct your market research. If you are not sure about how you should proceed, check with the experts in your field. You can always find guidance on the internet on carrying out the market research specific to your business.

Whatever you do, do not ignore going through this extremely important process. As tiring or difficult as it may sound, but this is the number one effort that can grow or fail your business. Again, whatever you have to do to get this done, you must do it. Cannot emphasize enough.

2. Lack of Clear Vision

Many entrepreneurs start with the hazy picture of where they want to be, and what exactly they want to achieve. Without a clear vision, your business will be pulled in many different directions. It will be harder to create strategies, steer your business and grow accordingly.

If your business lacks direction, there is a little or no growth, you are having a hard time taking a decision, or you are experiencing costly delays, then your business lacks a long term vision. In this case, you immediately need to take action. You must set goals for your business, create a clear plan, define path, and stick to your vision all the way.

Keep in mind that plans are basically made to give your business a clear direction. Almost no plan goes hundred percent as it was originally planned. Changes to the plans are mandatory. However, those changes should not be at the cost of your vision.

Lacking of clear vision often turns the focus away from quality towards quantity. Many business owners start a business and try to take as much business as possible. In doing so, they become too diverse in their offerings, too often too quickly.

Having a clear vision will help you focus on what works in your business. It will allow you to take out anything that does not contribute towards your business goals. Having a clear vision also helps you in creating a compact marketing strategy. And, with a clear strategy, you can better define your market, your clients, and steps that you must take to achieve success.

3. Leadership’s Inability to Inspire

The leadership’s role is to create strategies, assemble teams, create work culture, provide guidance, and keep an eye on current and emerging business opportunities.

The ability for a leader to make everyone see what he or she is seeing is of vital importance. A leader must be able to transfer his or her vision to the team, so that the team works with the same energy and enthusiasm towards the goal.

Leadership should be able to demonstrate a constancy of character to attain trust, confidence and loyalty. As a business owner, you should be able to communicate your business vision to everyone that is associated with the business. Without having a strong character, it is not possible to pass on your mind and vision to the team.

4. Poor Management

It is the job of management to hire, train and mentor employees. If the employees are unable to get the work done, then the onus of failure falls on the management.

One of the common reasons why a small business fails is the owners’ inability to manage their team and business appropriately. While the owner may have the ability to create and sell a viable product or service, they often lack the qualities of a strong manager, or do not have adequate time to do so. Without a proper management team, there are high chances of mismanaging certain business aspects, such as finances, hiring, sales, marketing, and so on.

Smart business owners delegate the activities they do not perform well to someone who can. Therefore, it is important for the business owner to not only know his or her own abilities well, but also should be able to identify the abilities in his or her staff.

5. Lack of Finances

Another aspect of poor management results in the lack of finances. It is also one of the biggest reasons why a business fails. I will put the “lack of finances” again down to the management failure, because it is ultimately the management’s responsibility to appropriately manage business finances.

The business owners are usually more aware of their day to day expenses. They usually know their fixed and variable overhead expenses, such as salaries, rent, utilities, and so on. However, they are usually not totally aware of how much revenue they are generating through their sales of products or services. This disconnects leads to financial shortfall, which can quickly turn a business into a financial nightmare.

Moreover, the companies that operate in a highly saturated market, often provide their services or products at a far lower prices than their competitors. They do so with an intent to attract new customers. While this strategy is successful in some cases, keeping the prices too low for too long would ultimately result in shutting down the business. On the flip side, higher prices may result in good revenues, but should be backed with better quality, and smart sales and marketing strategies. If prices are not managed properly, the results would be unfavorable.

6. Poor Marketing

Small business owners often fail to prepare for the adequate marketing needs in their early marketing campaigns. Many business owners underestimate marketing requirements, and often miscalculate the capital required, customer reach, and customer conversion ratio projections.

Since marketing is crucial for the business, especially in the early stages, it is necessary to ensure that you have allocated sufficient budget for your marketing needs. Also, realistic projections related to customer reach, and sales conversion ratio is of critical importance for a successful campaign. Without proper consideration and planning, the marketing campaigns are more likely to fail, or eat more budget but still remain ineffective.

7. Failure to Adapt to the Changing Market

Business that do not timely adapt to the latest trends in the field are only just waiting for the failure. Most business changes occur due to increased competition, changed customer preferences or unpredictable economic environment.

As a business owner, you must keep yourself updated with the latest market trends, and how your competitors are adapting to these changes. And therefore, you should also adjust your business accordingly. In fact, more appropriately, you should be able to foresee the market changes in advance, and plan your strategy ahead of time.

The companies that deal with the continuous changes and turn the change into opportunity, will ultimately gain the competitive edge in the market. And the companies that fail to “ride the trend” often go down sooner than later.

We have seen many companies fail because they could not adapt to market change in time. For example, Nokia, who once was the biggest manufacturer of mobile devices, failed miserably because they could not keep pace with changing customer needs. They failed to catch up with Apple’s iPhone, resisted the change, and stubbornly stuck to Symbian OS, rather than adopting the Android OS like everyone else was doing. They could not improve their technology to match with that of Apple’s. So they ultimately ended up being sold to Microsoft.

So Why a Business Fails: Conclusion

Starting a business without a proper plan is a recipe of disaster.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

To tell you the truth, businesses do not fail, but the leaders do. It basically all boils down to the leadership failure. It is ultimately the leadership’s responsibility to guide the business all along, and make the changes as necessary.

Some leaders are too tolerant or resistant to the idea of change. They are also afraid of doing experiments, and are not willing to appreciate a new idea. Then there are some leaders who are obsessed with the idea of perfection. So they press on things that are not necessarily required. Trying to achieve perfection is one of the biggest obstacles in growth.

Some leaders genuinely lack leadership or management skills that are required to run a smooth and successful business. If you happen to be such an aspiring leader, it is always a good idea to work with a business mentor that help you hone your skills to become a successful business owner.

Well, at the end of the day, as a business owner, if your business fails, you are only yourself to blame.

Check out this article to learn about the challenges for expat entrepreneurs in China.

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Should You Hire a Chinese Sourcing Agency?

China exports all kinds of products. After all, China is a mass manufacturing might. Many economies, big or small, are very much dependent on the products that are imported from China. If you are also considering importing goods from China, or have been importing for a while, would you consider hiring or partnering with a sourcing agency for your help? Or, would you like to go through the whole process all by yourself?

If you are willing to go through the whole purchasing process by yourself, then you may like to know how you can identify a real manufacturing company in China. And once you find an appropriate manufacturer or supplier, you would definitely want to know if they are even a legit company to deal with without legal or logistic issues.

A sourcing agent is your friend in need
A sourcing agent is your friend in need

Why Would You Even Consider Hiring a Sourcing Agency at First Place?

For many, finding the required product, choosing the right supplier, and getting through the supplier verification process is sometimes a tedious and a difficult job. You may want to get rid of this tiring effort.

Or, you may not have much time to spare before you would want your store be filled with the desired products.

Or, you may even don’t have much confidence in your skills or findings regarding your specific supplier.

Whether you are a novice importer, or have been importing from China for quite some time, you will find these questions at some point in your business. These issues are very much experienced by novice and seasoned importers alike. Naturally, you would want to ensure the safety of your investment.

In such cases, it sounds appropriate to transfer the burden of end to end sourcing and delivery on the hired shoulders of a sourcing agency. This arrangement will allow you to turn your focus away from dealing with the sellers all by yourself. In doing so, you can spend more time and energies on the selling part of your business and handling local business issues.

Many people are already looking for someone local for help

Most companies or small business owners rely on someone local in China to assist them in sourcing and closing a deal. Throughout my 16 or so years of stay in China, many of my friends have approached me for assisting them in dealing with their supplier. Many people contact me for the same purpose through social media or through references, just because I am here.

If you are dealing with a company for the first time, you would want to make sure they are operating legally. Off course, you would want to save your skin… and money, and do not want to be fooled by some company thousands of miles away.

The local agencies or sourcing companies in China can help you in doing these tasks for you. Off course they charge for their services, but that is an expense sometimes worth making.

How a Local Agency or a Product Sourcing Company Is Helpful for You?

As they say, there is no substitute for experience—and this benefit alone could be worth spending the money.

Think about the following reasons for hiring a product sourcing company.

Sourcing companies know their local market like the back of their hand.

Using their knowledge, they can potentially propose a much better plan for your business for you to use.

A sourcing agency typically have close ties with the local suppliers.

They may have worked with several suppliers and manufacturers in the past. Therefore, they can get a better deal most of the times because of their relationship with them.

They speak the local language.

The largest barrier in dealing with Chinese companies for most foreigners is the inability to speak the local language. When you hire a sourcing agency, the language will not become a barrier in dealing with the suppliers and performing negotiations. You do not want miscommunication in getting through your requirements. The sourcing agency can easily verify supplier’s documents that are typically in the local language.

They probably have heard every question multiple times that you have to ask.

Given their experience with other clients, they are almost always ready to satisfy your requirements and provide appropriate support.

They know the current dynamics of the market that you would probably not know if you are new.

For example, what regions are known for what kind of products, how suppliers can fool overseas buyers, and so on. This is an invaluable knowledge that can save your business from a setback.

They may have other clients who are looking for the same product as you.

If that is the case, then they can place a bigger order, and can get further discount from the supplier.

They know the best methods to negotiate with the companies and manufacturers in China.

They know the practices and customs of the local market. After finding the right manufacturer and knowing the right price, they use the right negotiation techniques to help you get the lower price without compromising on any of your requirements.

They save a lot of your time.

They have the right knowledge and specialized skills in procurement, and therefore can be more efficient in securing a deal.

Sourcing companies usually have a network of agents all over the country.

They can utilize their network and connections to serve your needs.

What Services Do They Usually Provide?

As a matter of fact, a product sourcing agency can provide many different services based on customers’ needs. You can an agency for the whole sourcing process, or only for the selected part of the job.

Consider these agencies as your one stop shop for your business in China.

They generally provide the following services.

Sourcing a product for your business

If you are looking to import products, but have no idea where to start. Or, you do not want to spend your time in researching and verifying the appropriate supplier. You can seek help of a sourcing agency in that case. The sourcing agency would provide you the end to end services, from finding the appropriate supplier, to shipping your products to your destination.

Helping in selecting the appropriate supplier for your products

You can hire a sourcing agency only to find an appropriate supplier for your business. You may want to take it over from there and further deal with the company by yourself.

Auditing factory, vetting and verification of supplier

You may have already found an appropriate supplier for your business, but you are not sure if they work legally in China and can really provide proper services. In such a case, you can hire the services of an agency to perform factory audits and verify the supplier’s credentials.

Evaluating product samples before issuing purchase order

You have already selected a supplier and are satisfied with them. Whether you want to avoid hefty overseas shipping charges on samples for some reason, or having time constraints, you can hire the agency to evaluate the samples for you and provide you a report.

Following up on orders

After you have placed the order, the agency can help you keeping an eye on the schedule. They can keep following up on orders as and when you require them.

Testing and inspecting your products before shipping

You can hire a sourcing agency to test and inspect the produced goods to make sure they are according to your requirements. They usually perform product inspection according to industry standards.

Handling shipping and logistics

The product sourcing agencies usually have relationships with several different freight forwarders. They coordinate with your supplier and freight forwarder, and utilize their contacts to send your shipment using the best way.

Providing other value adding services

Many sourcing agencies provide additional services; such as, private labeling, customizing the product or its label or its packaging, and so on. They also provide drop shipping and fulfillment services directly from Mainland China.

What Would They Usually Charge You for Their Service?

The sourcing agencies have different payment and compensation methods to charge for their services:

Price-based flat rate for buyer

This service fee is typically the percentage of the price of the goods purchased. The agency negotiates the price with the supplier on your behalf, and typically charge you between 1 and 10% of the total price. This method is completely open and transparent to you, and keep you involved in every aspect of the purchase process.

Price markup

The agencies with this method act as independent trading companies. They source the product for you, and provide you a price by adding their own commission on top of the product price. In this case, you would typically not know the actual price and source of the product. However, they make sure that all your requirements are met. They negotiate with the supplier and make all the arrangements according to your needs. That is, they take the complete responsibility of purchasing and exporting the product to your destination as per your requirements.

Purchase commission from supplier

This is the commission in percentage that the agency charges from the manufacturer or supplier. They usually team up with the supplier and act as their selling agent.

Commission from both buyer and supplier

The agencies with this method take commission from both parties. This method allows them to keep the commission low for both supplier and the buyer. For example, if they charge only the buyer or the supplier, they would charge 8% commission of the total amount. But if they charge both parties for their services, they would charge 4% each to earn that same 8% commission.

Charges for miscellaneous services

The agencies would charge a different services charges for other services that they offer. Such as, supplier verification, testing and inspection, and so on. These charges may or may not be based on the value of the product.

So Which Sourcing Agency Should You Partner with?

Are you more concerned about the source of the product? Or, quality and price of the product is more of your issue?

Consider the different services and methods mentioned above. Think about the services you need to hire, and the method that would suit you for the business. And based on that, find a sourcing agency that works with that mode.

A particular point of concern is that that a sourcing agency that charges commission from the supplier may have a biased interest towards the supplier. If an agency is charging a low fee for their services, there is no guarantee that they would not charge the supplier as well. When they do so, they may not work in the best interest of the buyers.

For example, when looking for suppliers, the agency successfully finds a supplier with the perfect match, who fulfills all the requirements. However, the supplier does not agree to the commission terms of the agency. In that case, the agency would let go that supplier in favor of the one who would pay them more commission.

This means, the sourcing agency that you hired to serve your interest, may compromise on some requirements when purchasing. They go ahead with the less qualified supplier. Why? Because that supplier pays them good commission.

That is why an independent agency that serve your interests and fulfill your requirements would always be a better choice. They charge relatively higher commission, but that commission would be much lower than what you would spend on traveling to China and doing the whole process by yourself. And traveling to China in the times of pandemic is not so convenient.

Conclusion

There are times when you need some “boots on the ground” to help you with your business with Chinese companies. You can hire a sourcing agency for that purpose, to help you with the complete purchasing process, or a part of the job. They provide plenty of options and services for you to choose from.

In other words, whatever you would like to do by yourself, if you were in China, they would do all that for you. At the times when you are not being able to travel to China, this indeed is a great help that you may wish you have.

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