3 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Businesses by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart

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DeM Banter: sound like any one/place you know.

We mostly hear about what great businesses do well. But there are lessons to be learned from the traits that keep many businesses from reaching their potential.

Plenty has been written about the characteristics of highly successful businesses. We think it is worthwhile to understand the traits of unsuccessful companies. If you identify the factors that are limiting your business’s success, you may generate new ideas about how to earn a better return.

There are three key inhibitors to any management team’s ability to build a successful business.

1: They believe that their circumstances are unchangeable and therefore don’t act.

2: They do not set milestones for their journey.

3: They do not reevaluate along the way.

“Unchangeable” Circumstances

There are always options and choices. For our business, we can change the way we address our customers, our employees, or our goals. We won’t always be able to change all three–but there will never be a time when we can’t change any one of them.

In our experience, when successful management teams objectively view the facts, they are able to see options and flexibility. For example, not all business assets are on the balance sheet: Customer engagement and loyalty, relationships, and location (to name a few) can always be leveraged for growth beyond the four corners that your business now occupies. Opportunities always exist, even in difficult circumstances.

Lack of Milestones

Milestones let us know we are heading down the right track. Unsuccessful businesses will not identify what success “looks like” and will not create the metrics that measure their successes. Growth and profitability alone are not sustainable without milestones.

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Karl Stark and Bill Stewart are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale, a strategic advisory firm focused on growing companies. Avondale, based in Chicago, is a high-growth company itself, and is a two-time Inc. 500 award recipient. @karlstark

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