Search Business Insights

Business Directory

Explore Our Directory Of Certified Business Partners

16 May

Top Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail


The main reason why small businesses fail

With so many enterprises appearing and disappearing in the plethora of a marketplace, we have to ask why some entrepreneurs and small businesses fail, while others prosper.

An entrepreneur is defined as, “a person who undertakes a wealth-creating and value-adding process through developing ideas, assembling resources and making things happen”. It is a well-established fact that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are engines of economic growth since they create between 65% and 70% of new jobs in the economy annually.

The importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs)

The National Treasury regards small to medium enterprises as essential for efficient markets and ensuring sound competitiveness. SMEs are profoundly essential for both urban and rural areas, and are particularly useful for alleviating poverty.

Unfortunately, a large amount of small businesses fail within their first two years of operation. Even more worrying is the fact that many more fail within their first five years. Research by students currently undertaking their Masters at Cranefield College found that the reason why small businesses fail is because of deficiencies in management and leadership.

These findings should indicate the importance of education and training to ensure that more enterprises succeed and less small businesses fail.

Why SMEs fail without proper management

It must be remembered that a business is about people and, in particular, management, directing, motivation and nurturing of both entrepreneurs and their staff.

Today’s small to medium enterprises operate in an external environment that is increasingly volatile. This means that SMEs have to continuously adapt to the rapid changes that occur in technology, customer needs and market conditions.

The research shows that the reason why small businesses fail is mainly a result of poor management planning. This is particularly true in the start-up phase of small businesses where many entrepreneurs fail to develop an effective initial business plan.

Good initial business planning is essential to ensure that the entrepreneur and employees of the business are focused on achieving the same goals.

cranefield - why smmes fail 3

A possible reason why small businesses fail

It must always be kept in mind that starting a business is a project. The reason why small businesses fail is because projects are not properly conceptualised, designed, implemented and operated.

Entrepreneurs who start businesses need to have a sound knowledge of how to navigate the entrepreneurial project. This includes first constructing the business plan and then operating the established deliverable, which is the business itself.

The most common reason why small businesses fail is because the entrepreneur started the venture as a result of being unemployed. This means they are essentially starting a business with a shortage of funding. Cash flow is often cited as a major reason why small businesses fail.

SMEs are often guilty of being overly focused on the production of the products or services, and less focused on the actual selling thereof.

cranefield - why smmes fail 1

How to avoid SME failure in the early years

The research found that having effective business plans and executing the entrepreneurial project properly can assist businesses a great deal in the first two to five years of existence, and throughout their lifespan.

To mitigate the above problems and assess in depth why small businesses fail, Cranefield College offers two short courses. The short courses cover Entrepreneurship and how to navigate the Entrepreneurial Project from an idea to reality.

Interested in taking this course? Visit Cranefield Academy today for more information on career-shifting project management short courses.


Without a cohesive team, your business will not perform to the best of their ability. Get the low down on team building and employee motivation.

Become part of a network of influential Thought Leaders and keep abreast of the latest business news by listing your business here

Leadership and mentoring go hand in hand. Become the catalyst of change in your business.

Related Service Providers:

Cranefield College

Related Articles:

Why Use South African Immigration Lawyers

  Why Use South African Immigration Lawyers If You Can Do It Yourself? It has become much easier in recent years to do things yourself with all the information available to us on the internet. And while it is great

False Bay College: good partnerships and good business

  False Bay TVET College acknowledges Western Cape business growth and development False Bay TVET College hosted a Business Breakfast at the Southern Sun in Newlands, Cape Town on the 26th October 2017, to acknowledge the value of Public-Private partnerships

Prioritising your health

By Quest Staffing Solutions 0 comment(s)

Travel Risk Map for 2018

By iGO Travel 0 comment(s)

Sun City Casino is refreshed

By Sun City 0 comment(s)

Digitally-inspired hackathon

By Kavisha Hurbans 0 comment(s)

Leaving funds to a child in your will

By Private Client Holdings 0 comment(s)