From: Mike Keesee []
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 5:13 PM
Subject: Growing Your Small Business - News from JMK Associates LLC
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The Leadership News
Growing Small Businesses


Dear Mike,
As diverse a group of individuals as Sena
tor John Kerry, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Governor Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and even Vice President Dick Cheney, have each used the phrase, "Back-bone of America," to describe the social and economic impact of small businesses in the United States.
Here are some facts: 98 percent of businesses in the United States have less than 100 employees, 89 percent have less than 20 employees. Additionally, there are 25,000,000 small businesses in the United States, which employ 50.1 percent of the private workforce.  According to the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, there are almost 45,000 businesses in Cobb county, a vast majority of those are small businesses.
This issue of The Leadership News is about small business, a major focus of JMK Associates.  In the first article entitled Why So Many Small Businesses Fail - It May Not Be For The Reasons You Think!, we report on the findings of recent research as to the reasons small businesses fail.  In the second article entitled Avoid Failure - Grow Your Business we outline ways you can insure your business can not only avoid these failure traps, but actually grow.
We are presenting a series of seminars in April (dates to be announced).  These three seminars will be focused on small business and will introduce some of the ways and means of avoiding the failure traps.  I'll send you information as soon as dates are firmed up.  The topics are:
Seminar 1 - Creating a Compelling Vision
Seminar 2 - Getting and Maintaining Peak Performance
Seminar 3 - Filling Your Sales Funnel
If you are interested in growing your small business, be sure to take advantage of these seminars.
By the way, a few of you are getting The Leadership News for the first time.  Back issues are available at


Mike Keesee, PMP

President & CEO

JMK Associates LLC

Why So Many Small Businesses Fail

It May Not Be For The Reasons You Think!
by Mike Keesee
JMK Photo
"There is nothing so useless than doing efficiently what should not be done at all."
Peter Drucker


Small business failure rates may not be as bad as some think.  Statistics such as "9 out of 10" and "70%" have been used to describe the number of new businesses that fail in the first two years of operation.  Karen E. Klein in a BusinessWeek article Smart Answers, reports on a study done by Wells Fargo and the National Federation of Independent Business' Education Foundation.  That study found that over the lifetime of a business, 39% are profitable, 30% break even, and 30% lose money, with 1% falling in the "unable to determine" category.  This is much better than the dismal predictions of earlier studies.  However, closer examination of even these more optimistic numbers shows a vast majority of new businesses never doing better than "breaking even".

Why is that?  In this Internet age, no new entrepreneur need suffer from lack of help.  Google searches produce page after page of help topics on starting a new business.  Amazon searches produce page after page of books on the subject.  So what's wrong?

Patricia Schaefer in an article on entitled The Seven Pitfalls of Business Failure and How to Avoid Them lists seven reasons why businesses fail to succeed.


1.  You start your business for the wrong reason

This can be stated another way.  Many businesses are started without a clear, compelling vision.  Perceived reasons for being in business are not strong enough to motivate and energize the business owner through the inevitable tough times. 


Not only may the vision not be well defined, there may have been little thought given to the values and beliefs that will guide how you run your business.  For example, how will you prioritize time in your business and time with your family?


2.  Poor management

Many studies report  poor management as the number one reason for failure.   Lack of training in areas such as finance, purchasing, marketing and selling, managing - all contribute to poor management.  Fortunately, these deficiencies can be overcome with proper training.


But an often overlooked management skill is leadership.  To quote from the Schaefer article, "A successful manager is also a good leader who creates a work climate that encourages productivity. He or she has a skill at hiring competent people, training them and is able to delegate. A good leader is also skilled at strategic thinking, able to make a vision a reality, and able to confront change, make transitions, and envision new possibilities for the future."


Leadership development and learning to think and plan strategic is critical to good management.


3. Insufficient Capital
Often, this is thought to be the number one cause of business failure.  Of course, it always "takes longer and costs more" than originally thought.  But often, the lack of capital comes about because of failings 1. and 2. above.  If they are resolved, then capital is often taken care of.


4. Location, Location, Location
Conventional wisdom in the real estate business is that the value of the property is determined by three things, location, location, location.  These same three things are important in the success of any business.  However, they actually fall under a broader category.  No business will be successful without a careful external analysis of the market and conditions with which the business will be faced.  Who and where are you customers?  How do they buy?  What's going on in your market?  What are the trends?


5. Lack of Planning

An old Chinese proverb says, "Dig a well before you are thirsty".  Planning is essential to survival.  Careful, methodical, strategic planning (i.e., planning with a goal in mind) is essential.  I once worked for a company who seemed to operate under the philosophy, "Ready, Fire, Aim".  That company thrived for a time, but when unexpected circumstances occurred, it hit a wall.  It had no plans as to how to deal with what should not have been unexpected.


Someone once said, "Failing to plan is to plan to fail!"  Nothing could be more true.


6. Overexpansion

Usually, this trap is fallen into because of a failure of 5. above - lack of planning.  Careful, strategic planning will help you make wise decisions when it is time to expand.  Of course, you want to grow.  But slow, steady, well-planned growth is optimal for a business just like it is in nature.  Strategic thinking will enable you to know when the time to expand comes.


7. No Website

You might be thinking - "No website?  Really, now, can a website be really this important?"  Well, as a TV commercial points out, it is the 21st century.  To quote the Schaefer article again, "Simply put, if you have a business today, you need a website. Period."  Ms. Schaefer points out that 70% of the population are Internet users.  Further, e-commerce sales are rising each year.  No business can afford to ignore this vast market.


There are scores of services out there ready to create a professional looking and well-designed website.  But there are also very inexpensive ways to get a website up and running for a minimal cost. 


These are seven good reasons why businesses fail.  However, in summary, Ms. Schaefer points out, "When it comes to the success of any new business, you -- the business owner -- are ultimately the "secret" to your success."   

"Ahh - there's the rub!" to quote the Bard.  Seems like if you are an entrepreneur, it always comes back to YOU.  Actually, that's where we can help.  We can help you develop a vision, strategic plan and the leadership ability that you and your business never become a failure statistic.  All the ingredients exist for your success.  All you need to do is Act!

For more information, visit our website.

Avoid Failure
Grow Your Business 
by Mike Keesee 

Success Cup

"Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses"
George Washington Carver
Let me ask you a question - do you want your business to grow?
"Of course." you reply.  "Of course I want my business to grow - what kind of a question is that?
Let me ask it differently - do you want to grow your business?
Think about it before you answer because the second question is entirely different.  A "yes" answer to the first question required no commitment from you.  Even if you did not think it consciously, your sub-conscious said "Well, it could happen.  My business could grow regardless of what I do - maybe even if I don't do anything."  In other words, I can want my business to grow without making any sort of commitment.  It may not be realistic, but I can fool myself into thinking it might happen.
But the second question - do you want to grow your business - puts you on the spot.  The subject is "you". 
There is an old saying, "If it is to be, it's up to me."  Refer to the article above.  How many of the seven most common failures are outside your control?  If you are honest, you will acknowledge that there is not a one you can't manage.  JMK Associates is based on the premise that there are few issues that determine the success or failure of your business outside your realm of control.  You just have to want to succeed bad enough to do what it takes learn how to exercise that control.
Note the slogan in our logo.  It says "Vision, Strategy, Leadership".  This is what we stand for because we believe the secret to your success is found in these three words.  These three concepts are mirrored in three other concepts which I call The Three P's to Pleasing Customers, Planning, Processes, and People.
Vision is the What!  Everything starts with a vision.  Planning incorporates that vision into a well thought-out plan that considers where you want your business to go, what is the purpose of your business, what you will and will not do to achieve success, what you have to work with, the market environment in which you will do business, and how much you want to do in the near future.  All should be reflected in very specific plans that detail the what, who, and when - what's to be done, whose to do it, and when is it to be done.
Strategy is the How!  Processes reflect the strategy of your business.  Processes are how you run your business - get things done - how you conduct your marketing, how you bill your customers, how you pay your suppliers and your employees, how you account for your business transactions, etc.  Well designed processes make your business function like a well oiled machine.  Processes can be thought of as the "moving parts" of your business.  If all are well designed, implemented and maintained, will free you to work more "on" your business rather than spending all your time working "in" your business.
Leadership is the Who!  Leadership reflects the most important aspect of your business - people - beginning with you.  You don't have to have employees to need to be a leader.  There is always that staff of one - you - to manage.  Of the three P's, this one is the most important - mainly because it is the most difficult.  For example, begin by examining how difficult it is to manage your self.  I suspect that "you" are the most difficult "people" you have to manage.  I know I am.  But developing the ability to manage yourself and others well - and it is a skill that can be acquired - will produce remarkable results.  It is doubtful that your business will succeed unless you master leadership.  You certainly will not grow to your maximum potential.
Again, review the seven most common reasons for business failure.  Can you identify one that would not be addressed in the Vision, Strategy, Leadership (Planning, Processes, People) concepts above? 
JMK Associates has a process entitled Entrepreneurial Planning and Strategic Thinking that enables a company to avoid all seven failure reasons and lay a solid foundation for remarkable business growth in the future.  But we are back to the question - Do YOU want to grow your business?  If you do, give me a call.

For more information, visit our website.

Free Book
All good leaders read.  I have a book I'd like to give you - free!  The title is Fail-safe Leadership.  There is a review of it on my website,  All you have to do is call me to receive your copy.  My phone numbers are 770 943 3657, or 678 773 8036.
Mike Keesee
JMK Associates LLC
770 943 3657
678 773 8036 (cell)
770 943 1450 (fax)

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JMK Associates LLC | 3540 Velma Drive | Powder Springs | GA | 30127