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Key Reasons Why Businesses Fail

Starting a business is hard. Running a successful business is harder.

We always hear about why businesses fail, but what do you DO with that information? How do you translate that into a lesson for business success?

The fear of failure is real and, while owning a business has its perks (like being your own boss), there is also a great deal of responsibility and pressure. Every decision, every payroll, every client experience, not to mention marketing, operations, and growth strategy….The list goes on and on.

Fortunately, I didn’t feel all those things when we started VYA.

I was all in!

Virtually Yours Agency founders Katie and Mary work together to support small businesses with virtual assistant services.

I sort of jumped before I thought through all the “what ifs.” I attribute this to the utmost confidence I had in my business partner, Mary. In addition to that, I knew we had a sound business model that could not only generate revenue but more importantly help people.

It wasn’t until we really started to grow and we knew we needed to add to our team that I really felt pressure, responsibility, and fear.

I realize this was a turning point for our business, and looking back it led to a decision that has helped us grow month after month since VYA’s inception.

Much like other businesses, the turning point for us was when we realized we couldn’t do ALL THE THINGS! We had to add to our team. Suddenly our dynamic duo wasn’t enough and that felt heavy and hard to face.

Mary and I had to face the reality that we couldn’t run the day-to-day calls, operations, emails, contracts, recruiting, interviewing, AND marketing. We had to hire help, which was a social media virtual assistant (VA).

This realization was hard to accept. Now we had additional expenses with an unknown financial impact on our revenue and an increase in our monthly expenses. That’s when the “what ifs” started to add up and I started to bargain in my head.

Mary and I can do social media….right? I like Canva…I can find the time for it. (Ya right! Who was I kidding!?)

It felt silly that we needed help with it. Mary and I were good at social media. We liked it, and we used it in our personal lives and in our previous businesses, but somehow we were stuck and failed to do it for our virtual assistant agency.

It was like tug-o-war, one side of us thought we “should” do it (we would make one post or story) but then the other side was paralyzed, (we would go weeks without posting again) We were paralyzed and only hurting ourselves.

What was once fun to do, posting to social media and creating content, felt overwhelming. I was frozen by fear….and again the “what ifs” started to creep in ….

What if I don’t post a pretty graphic? What if it’s inconsistent with our brand colors or the post isn’t conveying the right message? What if Mary doesn’t like it? Finally, the task became something I hated to think about. It just felt like a big failure. UGH!

Months later, (yes months!) We finally got out of our own way and hired an amazing VA to help us with managing VYA’s social media. Mary and I had to take our own advice, practice what we preach, and DELEGATE! It was one of the best decisions we’ve made to date!!!

Tip 1- Delegate to Elevate! Delegating tasks to a VA can open you up to more opportunities for business growth.

Now I realize this is a small decision in the big scheme of things, but it represents a much larger picture. Fear can take over and failure to adapt to the marketplace or company demands can have unpleasant consequences.

Obviously, in business, some consequences are more costly than others, but ultimately there is an inherent risk to change and adapt and there’s also a risk if you choose not to.

In our current marketplace, social media is a must if you want to grow, thrive, and reach people.

It just is!

Showing up on social media is like having your OPEN sign turned on! It helps your company stay relevant and reach new clients all while educating others on the value you bring to their business and their life.

So back to the original question…why do businesses fail?

I’m sure you have some thoughts and opinions on that (and I do too!), but first, let’s take a look at how often businesses fail.

According to, only 25% of new businesses last 15 or more years.

According to’s article on 2023 Startup Statistics:
→ 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open
→ 45% during the first five years
→ 65% during the first 10 years
Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.

Wow! It’s rough out there!

So why do most businesses fail?

According to Tony Robbins, some of the top reasons businesses fail include:
1. Not having an effective business plan
2. Not putting the customer first
3. Not hiring the right people
4. Doing it all yourself
5. Lack of flexibility
6. Lack of innovation
7. Not understanding your industry
8. Fear of failure
9. The wrong mindset
10. Lack of vision
11. Lack of passion
12. Ineffective marketing strategies
13. Not understanding your “X” factor
14. Asking the wrong questions

Before we go on, stop and ask yourself, “am I doing any of these in my business?”. Don’t worry, it’s not too late! But it’s important to recognize what you may be doing that could contribute to a lack of growth or *gasp* business failure.

I alone was guilty of numbers 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 12.


Fortunately, VYA didn’t stay stuck in a mindset of fear for very long. We pivoted. We saw the market trends, we hired a VA, (in fact we’ve now hired many) and we’ve seen consistent growth and an increase in ease as we run the day-to-day of our business.

Point being….failure and success don’t just happen.
It takes time, work, innovation, adaptation, and risk!

Now as someone who has a very set morning routine, likes to eat the same things, and thrives on consistency….Adaptation and change can be hard. In fact, it can be painful, but not as painful as hitting a plateau or falling behind. So check your mindset, stay informed, and be open to new possibilities and growth.

Tip 2 - Adapt to grow. Adapting to trends, innovations, and the demands of your audience will keep your business relevant and top of mind.

SO, what does staying informed mean?

According to Forbes, the best way to stay malleable in the ever-changing marketplace and on top of trends, demands, and innovation is to:

  1. Follow trends: just keep up to date by following Google Trends. This will help you stay aware of what’s happening in the world around you and in the marketplace because it does impact you, your business, and potentially your future.
  2. Stop and ask yourself: Who are the thought leaders in my industry? What are they saying or doing? What are the problems in my industry, and how are they being addressed? Who is working on solving the issues? How can my company become part of the solution to those problems?
  3. Educate yourself with seminars and workshops: At many of these events, you can pick up vital information about where society is heading and what the next “big thing” might be. You also can meet real groundbreakers and establish relationships with them. Try to be aware not only of the technology that’s currently being used in your field but also of the technology that could disrupt or change your field in the future. Familiarize yourself with tangential markets that could, to some degree, become useful in thinking about innovations for your own products and company. (Forbes, 2019).
  4. Modify if necessary: the service you provide or the product you create might have to change with the market. Be open to that and rely on the feedback of customers. Be vigilant about innovation, and ensure your marketing strategy is reaching your audience with the right messaging. Don’t be afraid to pivot if you need to!
  5. Seek council!: Our viewpoint is always skewed if we are working on and in our own business. That is why an advisor, mentor, or coach can drastically influence and elevate your business acumen.

Obviously, success isn’t guaranteed, even when you adapt. But staying educated, informed and innovative will help stack the deck in your favor.

A perfect example is what Steve Jobs did for Apple in 1997. He saw that Apple needed to refine the business they were in. He saw Apple as much more than a computer company—it was a company that connected people to their passions. That innovative thinking led to the iMac, iPod, iTunes, and iPhone.

Wow. Talk about innovation!

Now of course there was likely fear when Apple made such a bold shift, but fear is likely inevitable while success or failure, persistence, innovation, and adaptation are not.

Success depends on adaptation, innovation, and action.

It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

Charles Darwin

What are you doing (or going to do) to adapt and innovate in your business? We’d love to hear about it! Share one of our tips on Instagram and let us know (don’t forget to tag so we can share it too!).

Virtually Yours Agency connects small business owners with highly skilled virtual assistants. Go to to learn more about our virtual assistant services.

Are you ready to delegate, adapt, and grow your business? Click here to find out how Virtually Yours Agency can support your business. Be sure to schedule your complimentary discovery call!

Article by Virtually Yours Agency co-Founder Katie Kincaid-Longhauser

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