The 10 very best ways to FAIL at business

As a business lawyer, I’ve seen clients trash their businesses in a number of interesting and inventive ways. Over the years a few strong recurring themes have emerged, so I thought it would be worth sharing a list of the very best ways to kill your business. If you are anxious to put the poor company out of its misery quickly, I recommend combining several of these tips:

1. Take in partners. To fail faster, take in more partners. Partnership is an inherently unstable business structure, and over time even the smallest irritations can rub the relationship raw.

2. Don’t pay the government: use the money you collect for GST, PST and employees source deductions as working capital instead. The inability of a business to meet its trust obligations to the government is an early warning sign that the business is in trouble, so ignore the warning and the business will fail.

3. Whatever you do, don’t seek professional advice: why would you pay good money to a lawyer, accountant, realtor, insurance broker or other professional? You know best, right?

4. Don’t keep a proper set of books, or if you do, for goodness sake don’t learn how to read or analyse the financial data produced by your business. Why prolong the agony by knowing that the is crash coming?

5. Never get it in writing, and never read what the other guy puts in writing, until after you have signed it.

6. Give personal guarantees to everyone who asks, and, if they don’t ask – volunteer it! (Oh, and always do business as a proprietorship, never as a limited company, to make sure all of your personal assets are at risk.)

7. Do business with crooks. Borrowing money from the bikers could even put you in the hospital.

8. Turn all of your employees into “sub-contractors” and save big on source deductions.

9. Invent your own business structure. Standard forms of business organization are so boring, aren’t they?

10. Screw around: employees, partners, customers, it doesn’t matter – as long as you’re getting lots of action. Sex is way more fun that keeping an eye on your business.

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