A Small Business / Entrepreneur Survival Guide

Scott D. Clary
20 min readOct 17, 2020

Running a small business isn’t easy, even during the best of times.

According the United States Small Business Association:

  • 30% of small businesses fail within two years
  • 50% fail within five years
  • Only 25% of businesses last 15 years or longer

Any small business owner will tell you that running a small business is challenging. You have to manage a thousand moving pieces, ensuring that you stay on top of cash flow, employee performance, sales, marketing, and many other factors. Many owners struggle to manage all the different elements, and their business struggles as a result.

When circumstances get tough, running a business becomes an even greater challenge. Throughout the years, many events have occurred that placed a squeeze on businesses:

  • The Great Depression
  • World War I and World War II
  • The Cold War
  • The 2008 housing market collapse
  • The 2020 coronavirus pandemic

During these difficult times, many small businesses folded under the pressure. They simply weren’t able to keep going.

But many businesses have survived these incredibly challenging circumstances. Some of them have even thrived. In the early 1920s, Prohibition prevented the sale of alcohol in the United States. As you can imagine, this made things really difficult for producers of alcohol.

But many companies adapted and came up with creative ways to save their businesses:

  • Yuengling made ice cream
  • Pabst made cheese
  • Coors produced dinnerware
  • Schlitz churned out chocolate
  • Stevens Point Brewery went into the soft drink business

The point is that your business can make it through hard times. You’ll need to get creative. You’ll have to take decisive action. And you’ll need to make tough decisions. But you can do it!

In his book How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins wrote:

The signature of the truly great versus the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty

Scott D. Clary

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