Starting a small business can be an exciting and fulfilling journey, but unfortunately, there are 5 reasons why small businesses fail in the first 5 years. According to a report by the US Small Business Administration, approximately 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years of operation and in Canada 30%. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to a small business’s failure, but some of the most common reasons include a lack of planning, insufficient funding, poor management, and competition.

5 Reasons Why Many Small Businesses Fail in the First 5 Years

5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail in the First 5 Years

Lack of Planning

One of the 5 reasons why small businesses fail in the first 5 years is a lack of planning. Entrepreneurs often have a great idea for a business, but they do not take the time to develop a comprehensive business plan. A business plan is a critical document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. Without a business plan, it is difficult for a small business to secure funding from lenders or investors, and it is even more difficult to measure progress and make informed decisions about the future of the business.  A business plan may change as you adapt in the first 5 years, but it is still the main starting point to measure your business against.

Lack of Funding

Another major contributor to small business failure is a lack of funding. Many small businesses do not have access to the capital they need to start and grow their businesses. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of collateral, poor credit history, or a lack of experience with securing financing. Without adequate funding, a small business may struggle to purchase inventory, hire employees, or invest in marketing and advertising efforts.

Banks will be more willing to lend you start up capital if you have a comprehensive business plan that includes a solid marketing plan to gain customers for your product.  Explore some of the small business grants that are available depending on where your business is located.

Poor Management

Poor management is another common reason for small business failure. Many small business owners do not have the experience or skills necessary to effectively manage their businesses. This can lead to poor decision-making, ineffective use of resources, and a lack of direction and focus. Poor management can also contribute to a lack of teamwork and motivation among employees, leading to lower morale and decreased productivity.  It is not enough to have a great idea for a business, it is extremely important to manage the business so it is profitable and keep an eye on the financial health of your organization,  This is achieved by establishing a good bookkeeping protocol by using software such as QuickBooks, Xero, Sage or FreshBooks.


Competition is another significant challenge facing small businesses. In today’s marketplace, there is intense competition for customers, market share, and talent. Small businesses may struggle to compete with larger, established companies that have more resources and established brand recognition. This can make it difficult for a small business to attract customers, retain employees, and grow its business.  During the pandemic, bricks and mortar businesses that were slow to open an online store for their products were at a huge disadvantage.  Restaurants that didn’t have take out and delivery often did not make it through the 2 years of hardship due to the COVID pandemic.

Every business has a different personality and story.  Businesses that tell their story and their “WHY” are the most likely to survive even if their products are not the cheapest on the market.  Take the story of the Hadhad family — Isam, his wife Shahnaz, and their sons and daughters — and the founding of the chocolatier, Peace by Chocolate.  From the devastation of the Syrian civil war, through their life as refugees in Lebanon, to their arrival in a small town in Atlantic Canada and new success as told in the remarkable book, Peace by Chocolate.


Finally, many small businesses fail due to a lack of adaptability. The business landscape is constantly changing, and small businesses must be able to adapt to new technologies, changes in consumer preferences, and shifts in the market. Without the ability to quickly adapt to these changes, a small business may find itself struggling to remain relevant and competitive.

If you have an email list or are active on social media you can always poll your customers to ask them what their preferences are.  Your current customers are always interested in adding their viewpoint and help you adapt, so your business survives.

In conclusion, the failure of small businesses within the first five years of operation is a complex issue with many contributing factors. However, by taking the time to develop a comprehensive business plan, securing adequate funding, practicing effective management, and remaining adaptable to changes in the marketplace, small businesses can increase their chances of success and longevity. The key to success for small businesses is to stay focused on their goals, stay informed about changes in the market, and continuously improve their operations and processes.

Having talked about the 5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail in the First 5 Years, perhaps you need some help in one of these 5 areas.   We are here to help.  Contact us today for a FREE 30 minute chat to discover how we can help you with business planning, funding, management, competition and adaptability.  We have experience in all these areas and are ready to sort out how to make your business successful.

If you are still in the planning stages of your business and want to avoid the 5 reasons why many small business fail in the first 5 years, then we have just the book for you!  Fabulous Fempreneurship  will get you off to a great star. Head over to the book section of our sister website Fabulous Fempreneurship to buy a copy today.

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