Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Losing @ Business: It Still Hurts

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Carmen Gallo, in his book “Talk Like TED” (2014), describes listening to Pastor Joel Osteen, who has not given TED talks but is a “TED-worthy” speaker. Gallo quotes Osteen as saying that 90% of all first businesses fail. He also stated that 90% of all second businesses succeed, yet 80% of business owners do not try a second time (Gallo, 2014; citing Osteen, pg. 58). Osteen mentions this statistic in his book, Break Out (Osteen, 2013).
Osteen doesn’t cite his source of information, but just that he read these statistics. There are sources that confirm the 90% number (Patel, 2015); and the author found a few other blogs which use the same statistic (Hartley, 2016). Author Ryan Jorden (2014), a managing partner in a Venture Capital firm, cites SBA statistics in a LinkedIn blog post (Jorden, 2014) disputing the small business failure rate. Jorden stated that according to the SBA data about half of all new businesses survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more. So rather than 9 out of 10 businesses failing, as Osteen and others mentioned here have stated, the data from SBA indicates that about 50 percent of new businesses will actually survive through their first five years.

Whether it’s verifiable or not, the fact that new businesses fail an alarming rate has always been something that we discussed when we present entrepreneurship statistics in our business classes. In consideration of this, how encouraging is it that these statistics are cited at all? What has not been discussed is how many of these business starters handle that failure, and the impact of failure on their business careers.

We who teach about business are the sages who speak into the lives of students and encourage them to consider entrepreneurship as part of their business future development. There is a classic type of entrepreneur that we describe, the ones with fire in their eyes, able to handle ambiguity and take a greater share of risk than the average person, at least a greater measure of risk aversion. But there are also many other people who start their own business, whether a lifestyle business or as an extension of a family business, who do not meet the typical prototype. How much is does this “learning to fail” and process of failure affect these moderate risk-takers in the near-term and also the post-career trajectory of business persons? Why is it that we have not to this point address this concern?

In a new book, Losing isn’t everything (2016), Curt Menefee describes sports personalities better known on the losing end of a sports score then on the winning end. The tendency for most people is to observe the winners and rejoice with them, particular those of our own home teams. Menefee’s work is interesting as it considers the impact of failure on people, many of whom struggle with the loss and its social and psychological implications for many years. If losing a game has such a tremendous impact, what about losing or failing at business when one has invested one’s heart and one’s own personal resources?

Gallo, C. (2014). Talk like TED: the 9 public speaking secrets of the world’s top minds. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Hartley, S. (2016). Surprising facts about business success rates [Blog post]. West Tisbury, MA: Enlightened Marketing Blog. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from
Jorden, R. (2014). What are the real small business survival rates? [Blog post]. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from
Menefee, C. (2016). Losing isn’t everything. Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Osteen, J. (2013). Chapter 8: Yes is in your future. From the book, Break Out!: 5 Keys to go beyond your barriers and live an extraordinary life. Nashville, TN: FaithWords.
Patel, N. (2015). 90% of startups fail: Here’s what you need to know about the 10%. [Blog post]. New York: Forbes Magazine, Entrepreneurs Blog. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from

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