Why people fail: 5 habits of highly ineffective entrepreneurs (and the rest of us)

These five habits I list off below distinguish people who fail. I’ve discovered these traits after watching dozens of our partners. 

We at Dodo Pizza provide all our franchisees with an equal amount of support. They all undergo the same training. Everyone gets identical instruments for their business (management system, marketing guidelines, IT solutions). 

Not everybody gets identical results. 

You might think of a franchising business as a social experiment that can help you determine which strategies to avoid if you want to succeed. 

Because those who don’t have a lot in common.

1. They always shift blame onto others

We get a lot of flak from our partners for our mistakes. Mostly totally deserved. 

But there is a pattern. Those who seize any opportunity to reprimand us and do that with abandon tend to fall short when it comes to their own performance. And vice versa. 

Our most successful partners rarely take part in long, drawn-out conversations in our closed online community about how this and that side of our product is far from perfect. They can give us useful feedback, but then they quickly return to their own business. 

I assume successful partners know they don’t control what we do, but they always have a means of improving their situation by themselves. Unlike them, unsuccessful partners tend to dwell on imperfections that are out of their control.

2. They focus on the wrong things and make poorly timed decisions

You don’t bring a baby to a stadium to watch a soccer game. You don’t give a bottle of mom’s milk to a teenager. 

Like kids, businesses grow and evolve. They need change. Knowing what these needs are at the moment is one of the most vital qualities of every entrepreneur. 

Less successful partners often fail to determine the area in which they have to focus their energy to get the best results. 

They think about profits and try to save money when they have to think about traction and invest in marketing. And they invest in growth when they don’t have an awesome product yet and should have invested in their team and product quality instead. 

3. They don’t stick to the plan

Highly unsuccessful partners give up easily. 

They try one thing to spur their sales, and when they don’t see immediate results, quickly switch to the next gimmick. Only to see it turn out fruitless again. 

Then they get back to us and complain: none of our advice actually works. 

Those who succeed employ the same “not-working” technics. But they are patient and methodical. Everything they do, they do systematically. 

Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. 

Of course, they analyze the outcome and alter their tactics. But they don’t give up when they don’t see results in a week—they just keep going until they get them. 

4. They think short-term 

Should I invest in a better coffee machine? Pay more when buying from an official supplier instead of filling my stock at a corner shop? Hire and groom a manager who will be able to take the reins when the business grows—even if I don’t need a manager at the moment? 

When answering yes to these questions, you sacrifice your short-term profits for a better long-term outcome. 

Putting together a team of go-getters, developing a superior product, building relationships—all these things are pricey. You have to be an optimist to invest money into your future. You have to believe that eventually, it will pay off. 

Unsuccessful entrepreneurs never do such “stupid” things. More than anything else, they are interested in today’s profits. 

Strangely enough, soon they find themselves with none.

Photo: Seamoor, flic.kr/p/jXSEG
Photo: Seamoor, flic.kr/p/jXSEG

5. They trust nobody

Dodo Pizza was based on trust. 

Our first investors trusted the company’s founder, Fyodor Ovchinnikov, to build a chain when he had only one pizza shop.

Fyodor trusted his team to do awesome things, though back then, most of its members had more enthusiasm than skills.

And most importantly, our team trusted our customers. 

They believed that a company’s policy must be built on the assumption that a great majority of people are honest, and they should be treated accordingly (and if you offer a birthday discount, you don’t need to ask your customer to show her ID to prove that today is her birthday). 

Trust needs courage and strength. It’s a path for winners.

People who fail never follow it.

I do hope that those of our partners who have recognized themselves in this post won’t hold a grudge against me. 

Because I myself am prone to these faults as much as they are. 

Though I don’t manage a pizzeria, I also sometimes try to blame external forces for my blunders, fail to see and do what can really make a difference, tend to panic when I see no immediate results and change my tactics chaotically, lose sight of the bigger picture, and fail to expect the best from others. 

But I try super hard to avoid these mistakes. 

Because I know from the experience of building a $100-million company (or at least helping to build one) that they are a proven way to suck in business—and life.

Thanks for reading. Was it worth your time? Let’s connect on LinkedIn!