12 Causes Of Entrepreneurial Failure

Entrepreneurial success actually has little to do with good ideas or bad ideas, strong markets or weak markets. It has everything to do with how you think and behave. Your thoughts and habits are the determining factor to success.

Here are 12 common causes of entrepreneurial failure and how to avoid them:

1. Believing That Situations Are Unchangeable

You have the power and capability to change things. If you don’t think you can change and influence a situation then you certainly won’t and you’ll certainly be facing failure. Push away your self-doubt and dare to take action.

2. Believing Money Is Absolute and That You Can’t Take Action Until You Have It.

The tools available to entrepreneurs today allows us to build and grow our business with little to no capital. I’m not saying you don’t need money to start your business or that you won’t have expenses because you will. But too many entrepreneurs sit back and wait for money to fall in their lap before taking action towards their goals. The reality is that money loves action.

3. Focusing On The Past, Ignoring The Present, and Doubting The Future.

This is like 3 in 1…Merry Christmas! When you focus on the past you turn your back on the future. The past is over. Successful entrepreneurs certainly look ahead to the future but they are also very aware of the present. If your present situation isn’t ideal then you’re likely to doubt the future as you wonder how it will be better. This is a mistake you need to avoid. Be clear on your present situation and use it to make the necessary adjustments for the future.

4. Waiting To Act Until 100% Ready.

Successful people have the habit of taking action before they are ready. When you wait until you are absolutely certain about something before taking action, you are destined to fail. You can course-correct as necessary. Develop the habit of taking action first. You’ll get better and better at it as you go.

5. Stressing Over Minutia.

Way too many entrepreneurs focus on the little things that don’t matter and fail to focus on the things that lead to results. I recently spoke with someone who told me they couldn’t write new blog posts because their header wasn’t how they wanted it to be. So, their lead generation had come to a screeching halt while they waited for this small detail to be perfect. Unreal.

6. Accepting Failure As Permanent.

You can’t correct mistakes if you’re ashamed of making them. Don’t let failures and setbacks upset you. You can’t correct mistakes if you never make them. The faster you fail the quicker you reach success. There’s nothing permanent about failure UNLESS you stop pushing forward. Mistakes are essential to success. Learn from your mistakes and keep confidence in yourself.

7. Unwillingness To Adapt.

Your business WILL look different than your original idea. Every successful person has adapted along the way. Take Google for example, in the beginning they were determined to never allow ads on their site. Obviously they adapted and look at the success they’ve achieved since. Success is often determined by how quickly you move to plan B.

8. Unwillingness To Ask For Help.

No one achieves success on their own. Being afraid or unwilling to ask for help is a big step towards failure. Ask questions. Ask great questions. Don’t worry about looking dumb. There is no such thing as a stupid question (unless you’re watching a movie with my mother).

9. Being A Poor Student.

You should NEVER stop learning. Everyone I know who has achieved business success is an avid reader, attends seminars, and has a coach or mentor. It’s astonishing how many entrepreneurs and business owners there are who are not aggressive when it comes to their education. There is always something else to learn and you can always benefit from brushing up on the basics.

10. Exaggerating Challenges So You Can Have An Excuse For Quitting.

Some people make their challenges SO big that they convince themselves that no one could overcome them. It’s an easy out for quitting. Successful people deal with reality. Don’t make a challenge bigger (or smaller) than it truly is.

11. Focusing On Challenges Instead Of Solutions.

Focusing on challenges is unproductive and leads to more challenges. The moment you’re faced with a challenge stop and write out a list of solutions. Those solutions don’t have to be perfect but the process of shifting your mind to focus on answers will not only release stress, it will move you a huge step closer to overcoming the challenge.

12. Lacking 100% Clarity On What You Want.

Successful people know EXACTLY what they want and they are relentless about achieving it. You’re facing distractions every single day. When you have clarity on what you want, you spend your time wisely and only work on the tasks that move you closer to your goals.

Review this list and take a close evaluation of yourself. Don’t be disappointed if you’re making some of these mistakes. Be thankful you now know it. The key now is to do something about them.

  • therobcampbell

    Great post, John. Killer content and such an eye opener.

  • http://www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com John Morgan

    Thanks Rob! I’m very passionate about this topic because it applies to everything in life and not just business. 

  • http://owengreaves.com/ owengreaves

    Great bitty, you must be in my head again…I said these things almost word for word Tuesday while speaking to 35 biz owners. The problem with business is….there’s people in them, people are the problem, but people are also the solution.

    Anyone over the age of 30 has one big problem, how they think, how they see business, because that’s what the t industrial age systems taught them. It’s hard to unlearn what you have been conditioned to believe to be true.

    I promoted your book at the session as well : )

    Hope all is well with you?

  • http://www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com John Morgan

    Thanks Owen! Everything is great with me. 

    You’re spot on about people are the problem AND the solution. I was just talking about that recently to a friend. 

  • http://simonkerr.ca/ Simon Kerr

    Perfect timing as always John. Thanks Needed that.  See you soon a couple more weeks now

  • http://twitter.com/Chris_Eh_Young Chris Eh Young

    One more my friend. Feeling like you can’t or shouldn’t because someone else is already doing it. Sometimes we feel like we can’t do something because other people are already doing it and we fear looking like a copycat. 

  • http://www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com John Morgan

    Thanks Simon! Can’t wait for my trip back to Canada! 

  • http://www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com John Morgan

    So true. I always think that if someone else is doing it then it that is proof that it can be done. 

  • http://twitter.com/alinarocknrolla Alina Maslyukova

    Thanks, John! Love it :) I’m going to take your 8th advice right now and ask you a question. I’ve always been wondering, how can I understand, whether it’s a mistake and I should learn from it (and stop doing THAT mistake) or it’s just a failure and I shouldn’t give up? 

  • http://twitter.com/TackleInsider R. Smith


    This post left me saying “wow” repeatedly. I noticed more than one that I’ve been afflicted with in the recent past. Great to see them “uncovered.”

  • http://www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com John Morgan

    Great question Alina! 

    First I recommend reading a little book by Seth Godin called The Dip. It’s all about this exact question and it’s a quick read. 

    Each time you make a mistake you have to learn from it but also adjust moving forward so that you don’t keep making the same mistakes. Typically when we fail it’s because we didn’t have all of the information we needed. So when I make a mistake I ask myself ‘what am I missing?’

    If you continue to struggle achieving a goal then you must evaluate your approach and do a little soul-searching on why you want to reach the goal to begin with. Often times I’ve found that I would fail at something because I was actually sabotaging myself. The reason was because even though I thought I wanted to reach that goal, I didn’t. 

  • http://www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com John Morgan

    Thank you so much! I’m thrilled to see how it’s helped you. I’ve certainly been afflicted by more of these than I care to mention LOL

  • http://www.stephenmelancon.com/ Stephen Melancon

    Another earth shaking post, John! Many times I really do feel like as though your blog is some kind of intervention that makes me take a cold hard look at reality. 

    In particular, I have been guilty of “Waiting to Act Until 100% Ready” and “Stressing over the Minutia”. Thanks for pointing these out!

  • http://www.JohnMichaelMorgan.com John Morgan

    Thanks so much Stephen! That means the world to me! And thank you for sharing it on Twitter!

  • http://www.NateAnglin.com/ Nate Anglin

    This post makes me think of a recent Michael Hyatt post “Take Ownership of Your Life’ (Link Below). Why? Because entrepreneurs can dwell to much on the past or the the dreaming phase and less on the present and actionable phase. If “we” entrepreneurs can be flexible and agile, theirs nothing that can stand in our way that we won’t overcome. 

  • http://www.hairextensionsbymonica.com/ Monica Nielsen

    Thanks John, yes a remarkable post I am so glad I reread again. You are marvelous and so excited your coaching and book is on track with your success tips listed. Look forward to the continuous learning from your valuable Insite and inspiration. You know I am your raving FAN. ~Monica

  • http://twitter.com/alinarocknrolla Alina Maslyukova

    Wow! I like the sabotage idea, so true. I also started to read The Dip, it’s like revelation for me. It explains a lot of things I was confused about. Thank you John! You’ve changed the way I used to think about this issue. Now it’s so clear! :)

  • Smarty Brain

    agreed with the above and I would also like to add on how people’s
    success stories makes you think you can at first and not when you’re
    actually at it. Many people look up to success stories of Gates, Jobs
    etc. and not their failures.