I've been on the road lately, talking to people about how to grow a business and lessons learned along the way. All that discussion inspired me to approach the subject from a different angle. Since everybody knows that failure is the passport to success, why not help people with their "journey" by enumerating some proven strategies for hitting rock bottom? With apologies to Paul Simon, here's my short list of the five surefire ways to tank your business:

Just live where you like, Mike
Your factory is in Kalamazoo but you just adore a penthouse view? Not a problem! After all, it's not as if you need to get to know your employees. Working alongside them every day is so last century, now that there's Skype and Facetime. Besides, you have people there to keep tabs on things, and they can be counted on to always put your interests before their own.

Share the load equally, Lee
Want to go into business with a partner? Don't listen to the doubters who'll try to scare you by citing a business "divorce" rate of close to 80 percent. You just know you and your partner will be different. You're as close as two sides of an oyster shell, and you're going to stay that way as you grow your little pearl of a company. Same goals, same vision, same priorities. A pre-nup? Perish the thought. That would simply taint the venture from the get-go.

Don't let the killjoys go, Mo
Find you've accidentally hired a toxic employee? Remind yourself there are no accidents and enjoy the ride! They're sure to spice things up for everyone with their shenanigans and schemes, and negativity is a rare quality in business that must be nurtured. If you move them around enough in the office, eventually you'll find them a place where they can't do (much) damage. What? You don't have a basement? Grab a shovel and start digging.

Stick with the same old plan, Stan
Ignore all this talk about "disruptive thinking." It's never a good idea to rock the boat. Weren't you in class the day the teacher covered New Coke? That's a cautionary tale if ever there was one. Take it to heart and just keep doing what you've been doing since Granddad handed over the keys. Stay within your comfort zone. Progress is overrated.

Make it all about the money, Sonny
People are well and good, but it's profits that will buy you that 100-ft yacht. If you ever hope to find yourself sipping a Sidecar while docked in the Caymans, you'd better start squeezing those pennies now, and never let go. Ignore pesky managers when they tell you machinery needs upgrading and employees aren't happy. Give advisers the brush-off when they urge you to invest in a new technology or risk being "bricked" by your customers. They're so focused on the longterm, they don't appreciate the short-term costs! It's as if they want you to lose sleep at night.

Oh yeah, and one last thing I almost forgot: You know that saying about "Go West, young person"? It's never been more true! There's gold in them thar Silicon Valley hills and people with nothing but your best interests at heart. They'll surely help grease the wheels on your road to failure. Don't let anyone tell you differently!

Published on: Jun 17, 2016