It's absolutely vital to your business future to retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

We, little guys, know this, and we're pretty good at it, given the challenges. Yet 96% of us fail in the first decade. I have wrestled with this number since 1992 - trying to find out exactly why. (Richard Gerber's [The E-Myth Revisited] explains the numbers.)

I have lost count of the number of aspiring Richard Branson wannabees who assured me that their faith can move mountains because they are destined for greatness. How dare I confuse them with the facts.

Most of them now have real day jobs as employees of others. Or they're still struggling as the equivalent of entrepreneurial hunter-gatherers.

(Richard Branson - using this same analogy - is like a feudal lord of the manor.)

What are we doing wrong?

I am glad you asked. The answer simple.

Jim Collins, in his excellent book Good to Great, talks about The Stockdale Paradox - the balance a business must sustain to achieve greatness.

(By his reckoning and in-depth research during the US market over the past 30 years, only 11 firms make the grade - and they are not the firms you might expect.)

Yet each of these firms was a boringly good firm until, one day, something changed. They embarked on a series of exercises. (No fanfare, no press, just a gentle series of changes to how they did things). These changes, over the next 15 years, led these 11 firms to outperform all the firms in their sectors

They simply did the following:

  • retained faith that they would prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties,
  • AND at the same time,
  • they confronted the most brutal facts of their current reality, whatever those facts might be.
We little guys are great with the optimism and retain faith thing. We're ostriches when it comes to confronting our reality. It's much easier to blame others.

Our world is changing fast. Macro-economically various SA Government entities are taking steps that are not good for the future of most Petes Weekly readers. The crime and violence issue affects our incomes and lifestyles and our very survival.

Yet, I still have people asking if they should venture forth into this commercial wilderness and open a store in a village with population 47 during the year (92 over holidays), without even considering the long term lease (and surety), the cost of setting up (and surety when the funds are borrowed), the security and insurance costs, the prices of stock, ...

If Richard Branson ran his airline business like this, all his planes would have made unexpected terminal landings miles away from airports!

I battle to understand why anyone would want to invest R500,000 in setting up a physical store when it costs almost nothing to set up an Internet store with a market 10 million times bigger?

It can't be that they know nothing about the Internet. They don't know much more about "business" at this point.

If you don't take time out to confront the facts, no matter how brutal, you won't be around for long.

Winston Churchill once said, "Facts are better than dreams." I'd hate to ignore advice from him!

I wrote this article in mid-October October 2006. It's more real now than it was then.

One facet of business life has changed beyond our wildest imagining.

Back then, going online was a frightening mess of technology.

Right now, there is zero cost associated with starting up online. And there is much more guidance available than for starting up offline. And I did mention the zero risks, didn't I?

This is the path behind my quest to help SA business owners go online, especially as they slide towards retirement.

I have 15 seats open for tomorrow night's free How To Retire Online Soon webinar. Click here to join me for 75 minutes 8pm SA Time from your PC, Tablet or Mobile. Hint: You don't need to near age 65.

I'd welcome you sharing this article with anyone facing a tenuous future.