“Beating the Odds: Characteristics of a Successful Business”. Notes from presentation by Keith Cunningham (Part 1)

by David Eckoff · 0 comments

Keith Cunningham This past week I attended a presentation by business teacher and author Keith Cunningham.

In his presentation “Beating the Odds: Characteristics of a Successful Business”, Cunningham drew on his over 30 years experience launching numerous ventures and raising hundreds of millions of dollars for his own ventures to offer lots of practical advice on business.

His straight talk about business reminded me of lessons I have learned over my own career, but that all of us seem to forget or not commonly apply.

Here are some of the most interesting things I heard from the first part of his presentation:

  • The mortality rate of new businesses is stunning: 50% of all businesses started today will not last beyond two years; and 80% of all businesses started today will not last beyond five years. Cunningham’s conclusion: there are a lot of people who would like to start a business, but few of them know how.
  • In addition to knowing how to start a business it is important to understand why you are starting a business. Most people fail because they don’t have big enough reasons why (to motivate them), or the wrong reasons why.
  • Some of the most common reasons people start new businesses are often misguided:

    A new invention – but success is absolutely not just about the product
    It seems glamorous – but the basics of business are not glamorous, in fact Cunningham describes business as “boring, boring, boring, ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching.”
    Have your own schedule – if you’ve ever started a business, you know that the opposite happens, you are in even less control of your schedule
    Have more time – ridiculous, that’s like deciding to have a baby to have more time, it doesn’t work that way (read more from KC here)
    Opportunity to be your own boss – if you take on investors, you will have a boss
    Financial freedom – “makes no sense, we already all already have wealth right now.” The problem is we compare up vs. the Bill Gates of the world and not down vs. most of the world where the average wage is $2 per day. If you make more than $30K per year, you’re in the 1/10th of one percent of the most wealthy people on the planet. (Read more from KC here.)
    Generate passive income – passive means “do nothing.” You have to be present for your business; the most successful business people such as Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Warren Buffet are present for their business, in their business. (Read more from KC here.)

  • So what is it about? It is about the quality of life we want.
  • The # 1 reason people fail: we don’t tell ourselves the truth about the problem. You can’t change something if you don’t tell yourself the truth about it. How do you know what the problem is? Cunningham suggests: the difference between what “is” and what “ought” = the problem.

    In Part 2 of this report, I’ll cover the most interesting things I heard Cunningham say about the 6 big mistakes that people make in business.

    (Photo credit: keystothevault.com)

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