Justin, most of your writing focuses on strategy, and I totally agree. Strategy and execution are what separates survivors from the rest.
By and large, businesses fail from horrible strategy, which includes marketing, asset deployment, operating procedures, risk control, technology choices, etc.
In every case, the root of the problem is an owner/manager that refuses to learn what they need to know, and then apply it. In other words, they are wholly unprepared to own and operate a modern business, which, for anything more than a one-person shop, has become extremely challenging. The minimum intellectual, financial, legal, and even physical requirements are complex, and only becoming more so. And this does not even address the ability to think creatively and analytically within this framework.
“Mom and pop” business models are quaint and nostalgic, but they are no longer relevant, thanks to a government that expects businesses to assume all manner of liabilities, and technology requirements that demand in-depth understanding in order to be competitively productive.
Even the most basic businesses today require a professional, structured approach toward management, which is not what the idealistic, enthusiastic budding entrepreneur with an overactive ego gland wants to hear. Most “start your own business” books downplay this reality, for fear of turning off readers. Instead, they prefer the “you can do it, too!” motivational approach, while leaving the reader unprepared for the real tasks at hand.
We're all aware of the endless string of management horror stories that came out of the dot.com boom/bust. There were even documentaries celebrating this nonsense. Many, including some of the participants, seemed to consider it amusing and a necessary part of the venture process. I think that it speaks to much larger issues.
A robust entrepreneurial environment is necessary for our economy and society, but I see very few people addressing the real and significant management requirements that have slowly evolved in order to maintain one.