Do you need to be lucky to start a successful business?

How much of a role does luck play in business success, and can you really make your own luck?

A healthy dose of luck is always welcome in business

A healthy dose of luck is always welcome in business

Everybody has at least one friend who had a fantastic business idea, got everything together that they needed, seemed certain to do well – and yet failed regardless. We also know those inspirational stories of people starting a business with all the odds stacked against them, and yet go on to be successful. It feels almost as though it’s all down to luck, and that you have to just be lucky to do well.

It’s true. Much of the success of a good business really is down to lucky circumstances. But here’s what many people don’t know – most of this is luck you can build for yourself.

You can’t control your own luck entirely, but you do have more influence on your own luck than you think. You can plan for things going wrong. You can organise yourself such that things are more likely to go well. Let’s look at the three most common problems to floor new businesses, and see how we can influence the odds ourselves.

The most common problem is leadership issues. Bad luck in leadership might mean arguments, or bad delegation, which leads to a breakdown in communication. Good luck might mean having fantastic charisma. But you can plan for this. Have very specific and very clear task delineations, have more than one person able to shoulder big responsibilities, work hard on keeping the air clear and communication working. Learn all you can about yourself and people you are leading, so that you can know the signs of things going wrong.

Another reason is that either supply or demand fails. Have in-depth knowledge of your supply chain and know your market well enough that you can avoid sudden bad luck. Never be entirely dependent on one particular supplier or a core customer base. Be ready to move to a different market or a new supplier. But at the same time, have a good relationship with your clients and your suppliers.

The third big reason for businesses failing boils down to lack of organisation. A sudden tax bill, damage costs or legal problems can floor a small business. But you can plan for these things. Make sure you know what is due and when, and be insured against every eventuality.

Obviously you can never plan for absolutely everything, and obviously you can’t foresee every bit of bad luck. But you can build cushions and safeguards into your business plan, and ensure that whatever happens, you are in the best possible position to deal with the situation. Or perhaps you should first try your luck on

So yes, luck is part of starting a successful business. But with careful planning and by arming yourself with knowledge and foresight, you can make yourself lucky.

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