Most companies fail because they treat headaches. Not broken limbs.

I have more than 100 apps on my iPhone. I use 10 of them regularly because they solve an important problem for me. All the other apps are nice to have and relevant but their solution lacks true urgency.

The majority of companies/brands that didn’t make it through the Great Recession or continue to struggle are companies that treat headaches. Nice to have a pill or massage to battle the head pounding. But not life-threatening. You’ll make it through another day with a headache, hard to imagine when it comes to broken limbs.

When the Great Recession started, businesses that treated minor head pressures disappeared overnight: the 100th clothing store, the 51st coffeeshop, the 11th video store. Over the next years, businesses went belly up when they treated minor headaches. In early 2012, businesses are starting to disappear that treated major headaches.

It’s part of the de-leveraging process our society is going through. We cut the fat, only invest in necessities. At this point in time, people don’t buy products or services. They buy solutions.

Be brutally honest

Are you solving a significant problem? Did you identify and quantify a real problem worth solving? If you answered at least one question with a resounding “Yes”, you will succeed.

If your answer was a whimper, a muttered “I don’t know” or a loud “Yes!” – time to start rethinking your business. We don’t know when things get really better and luxuries are affordable again. We know businesses don’t have the luxury to wait until then.