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It took a long time and an enormous amount of reflection to realize that business had failed for many reasons, not simply because I was a miserable excuse for an entrepreneur. I wasn't looking to shuck blame so much as simply trying to understand what really went wrong. A few years later when I mustered courage to take plunge again, I did so with knowledge gained from my first failed business. I knew what I had done wrong and I knew what I'd done right. Lessons learned, put to good use. Knock wood, this time so far, so good.
Performing an autopsy on a failed business is a simple process, but one that can reveal a wealth of information that you can use should you ever decide to step out onto business high wire again.
To do your business autopsy find a quiet place where you can sit and reflect on life of your business. With pen and paper in hand (or laptop on lap) write down everything that you can think of that went right with business and alternatively, everything that went wrong. Your goal is to create a "Success" versus "Failure" spreadsheet that will help you better understand exactly why business went south.
For autopsy to be effective, it is imperative that you are completely honest with yourself. Shove your ego in a drawer and be completely realistic or autopsy will just become an exercise in futility. You will end up looking for scapegoats instead of reasons.
If your lack of experience was a contributing factor to failure of business, write it down. If your brilliant negotiating skills allowed you to close a big deal and beat out a competitor, write it down. If you were undercapitalized or incorrectly estimated your share of market, write it down. If you had a partner who didn't pull his weight or a product that didn't sell as well as you thought it would or your building was flattened by an earthquake, write it down. Write it all down.
Once you have all facts in front of you, it's easy to see why business really failed. You might be surprised to find out that failure of business wasn't completely your fault, after all.
Then again, you might discover that business failure was your fault. If that turns out to be case, don't beat yourself up for long. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur and that's OK.
The world would be a miserable place if everyone sat around whining about their lack of customers or complaining about their employees.
Next time we'll take a look at primary reasons businesses fail and discuss how you might avoid them.
Here's to your success.
Tim's latest book is "The 30 Day Blueprint For Success!" We asked 58 Top Internet Money Makers: If you lost is all tomorrow and had to start from scratch, what would you do to be back on top in the 30 days? Their answers just might make you rich! - http://www.timknox.com