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The Entrepreneurial Mind

Small businesses that survived 9/11

What the few small businesses that made it through the aftermath of the attacks can teach entrepreneurs about weathering uncontrollable events

By Dr. Jeffrey R. CornwallGuest blogger / September 15, 2011

Visitors looks over one of the pools at the 9/ 11 memorial plaza in the World Trade Center site in New York. Many small business on Wall Street didn't make it through the aftermath of 9/11, but some did.

Mike Segar/AP

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I tell my students that through our program we can help them manage the forty percent of business failure that has its roots in their pre-venture activities. We can teach them how to better assess opportunities and how to design, test, and pivot their business models.

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We can also help them manage the forty percent of business failure that results from businesses that are not prepared for the challenges and pains that result from growth. We tell them over and over, "The leading cause of business failure is success. Success is only good when you are prepared for what it brings."

But, we really can't do much to help them with the other twenty percent of failure that comes from events beyond their control -- hurricanes, floods, recessions, and so forth. Insurance and remembering that Cash is King can serve to buffer against the unpredictable, but sometimes stuff just happens and even such preparation is just not enough to pull them through.

When I was in New York this week to celebrate small business champions, just a few days after the anniversary of 9/11, I thought a lot about all of the small businesses that did not make it through the aftermath of that horrible event.

But some did.

Sure insurance, government assistance, and cash in the bank can help to some extent, but they can only take you so far.

However, a few entrepreneurs do make it through the events that are unpredictable and completely uncontrollable that cause the other twenty percent of business failures. For those few entrepreneurs who do survive, what helps them make it through is often the same things that got them through the tough times experienced during their original start-up -- determination, passion, grit, hard work, faith, family.

Business on Main has an inspiring story of one small business that has survived 9/11, in spite of being completely dependent on their location next to the World Trade Center. It is a story that shows what the entrepreneurial spirit is really all about. You can view it here.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on www.drjeffcornwall.com.