Frank Zaccari
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Make a Damn Decision!

Changing the Odds

As someone who interacts directly with over 50 Angel and Private Investors, I am going to share some information with you.

INC Magazine reported that one in five Americans would like to own a business. That is second only to home ownership, as part of the American dream. However, more times than not, this dream of owning a business becomes a nightmare.

This is from Forbes magazine—50% to 60% of small businesses fail within three years. 80% fail with five years. 70% of SBA loan applications are rejected.

What is going on here? Obviously, something is seriously wrong with the process of preparing entrepreneurs. But how can that be when there are dozens and dozens of organizations—be they government, nonprofit, or for profit—that have classes or seminars or webinars whose intent is to assist business owners through this very process.

So you would think that with all these programs and organizations designed to help, the odds of success would be better. They’re not. We meet with so many people, who attended these programs and leave less than satisfied. The three statements we hear most often are:

  1. Most of the presenters have never started or owned a business.
  2. They present theory not reality.
  3. They provide very basic information on WHAT to do, but little to nothing about HOW and WHY to do it.

The bottom line is: Far too many small business owners are not adequately prepared to navigate the land mines of becoming a business owner.

If you made it past the five year mark—congratulations! You have beaten the odds. You achieved some degree of success. What did it take? More than likely you have been working 80+ hours a week; are juggling every crisis alone; have missed far too many family dinners and some of your children’s events just trying to survive. Not thrive, just survive.

Now if you were like me, you might think, "Wow, I made it to five years, I can finally take a breath & relax."   Well, not so fast, nothing stays stagnant in business.

If you made it to five years, you are about to enter yet another unknown area. You are or will be soon in a position where you have to grow or expand or merge or scale, or sell or acquire. Regardless, you are going to need capital again. Now what? More bad news, Enterpreneurs.com reports that 50% of businesses fail after five years and 70% fail after ten.

Why is there so much failure? It’s not that the ideas were terrible or the owner was not capable. It is quite the contrary. The real problem is you don’t know what you don’t know, and you don’t know where to go to find out what you don’t know.

So what do you do? You talk to friend who knows a guy; or your CPA or lawyer or banker. If you’re lucky, they will be supportive but it’s not their business on the line—it’s yours.

Did you ever talk to your banker or CPA when you were at a crossroad? I did turn-arounds of failing companies for over 15 years. I had more of these conversations than I cared to have. The conversation went like this: they nodded at the appropriate places, but when I looked in their eyes, they weren’t engaged. They were thinking, “Oh no, if this thing fails, we have a huge loan out to this guy” or “We are going to have to raise the interest on his credit line.”

Their primary concern when you are facing a cross road is what happens to them, not you.

Too often when we reach a crossroads, we tend to wait to make a decision. We say to ourselves, “I need more data," or “I need to see next month’s report.” As we wait the situation goes from concern to crisis, then crisis to panic. What happens in panic mode? We either make no decision or a poor decision.

We flounder around hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Other than Meghan Markle, how often does than happen?

As I mentioned, I did turn-arounds of failing companies for several years. These were companies who had some degree of success. All had made it past five years, some past ten. Then they had reached a cross road they had not and were not prepared to address. They found themselves in crisis mode. Far too often this is when they call for help.

Of all the companies I worked with, here is what I found in every case.

  1. They admitted in hindsight they should have bitten the bullet early in the process and engaged with an organization that could have helped them avoid the land mines they stepped on.
  2. They had convinced themselves that they didn’t have the time or the money to bring in help, BUT they would have time as soon as they finished this one last project. Then another last project. You know the story.
  3. While they didn’t have the time of the money to work with someone who has been there and done that, they did have the time and money to hire a fitness trainer or a life coach, or go to three more conferences.

Something must change or this pattern of failure will get worse. So what are you going to do? Consider this!

My associates and I have all started and successfully operated businesses for decades. We have since sold our companies and are now sharing our 130 years of combined business knowledge and experience. We have developed a four step plan, called "Changing the Odds," where we work directly with business owners to guide them through the process of defining, creating, and most important, sustaining a successful business.

Now, you should be saying, “Yeah, yeah Frank, why is this different from the other programs?”

First and foremost we have been there and done that. We know what it takes to successfully run businesses in the real world. Second this is not a class. We don’t present theory and give you reams of paper and send you on your way. We work directly with you through all four steps.

What are the four steps?

  1. Strategic Direction—We help you define WHY you want to start this business and if you are already in business, why do you want to take this next step? What value does it provide?
  2. We create a business plan and multiple contingencies. Because no matter what the rules are today, they are going to change.
  3. Branding/Marketing/Positioning—We build you a marketing program, not a campaign, a program, which will differentiate you from the herd.
  4. Fiscal/Financial—We prepare a detailed investor strategy which works for the business and our investor. If we secure funding we stay with you to implement the plan. This will give you the greatest chance for success.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all know insanity is continuing to do the same old tired processes and expect a different result. Regardless of where you are in your journey, do yourself a favor and work directly with people who have been there and done that before you put your company and life savings at risk.

Let me leave you with this: the secret to walking on water is to know where the rocks are. We can show you where the rocks are. Call me, let’s talk. I’ll help you. 

Frank Zaccari

Has written five books based on life altering events; teaches aspiring entrepreneurs at Arizona State University; mentor with the Veterans Treatment Court;  the University of California Entrepreneurship Academy; is an accomplished speaker.



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