I had a great and lively discussion with some friends the other day.  One of the topics was:  Why is it that some business ideas succeed, while others fail?

As with anything like this, there’s a multitude of variables to think about.

The problem is that for any simple answer you give, we can find three examples which agree with you, and ten that don’t.  Some popular theories are:

  • Having a great business plan
  • Being well funded
  • Having something new and innovative
  • Listening to what your customers need
  • Just jumping in and being courageous
  • Not listening to the nay-sayers
  • Being well-grounded in business basics
  • Gathering the right people around you

You’ll see lots of books (5 easy steps to fame and fortune!), testimonials, and analyses which bring forward a particular model of success.  This is especially true when there’s an interesting person at the center, such as Steve Jobs, Kim Jordan, or Richard Branson.

Let me give you my own, admittedly biased, viewpoint.  Success is often based on:

  • Doing something which fits your style, your passion – because you need the energy to get through all the hard work
  • Knowing when to get help – because nobody knows everything
  • Being courageous to start moving – because planning can only
  • Listening to your customers and adapting as you learn

Sure, you can bring up counter-examples.  And this list reflects a lot about who I am as a business coach.  But I’ve seen more successes built on the back of these principles than any others I can think of.

But, at the end of the day, make your own decision.  There’s lots and lots of viewpoints, but only you can figure out what’s best for your situation.