Tolstoy opened the first chapter of his Anna Karenina with…
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
This became known as “The Anna Karenina Principle” applicable not only to families, but as much to evolution as to corporate governance. So this is my “business” version:
“Successful businesses are all alike; every unsuccessful business fails in its own way.”
It’s a useful reminder of how business failures can reveal more focused lessons to aspiring entrepreneurs than business successes. The reason is that in a lot of cases what brings down an apparently successful and thriving business is a “hidden” Achilles’ heel (or small series of heels!), which becomes all too apparent during the post mortem.
On the other hand, the success of a truly viable business cannot be due only to some business aspects, but to all business aspects humming together: value to customers, market awareness, sales, pricing, risk management, delivery, loyal clientele … etc.
It is easier to identify a useful lesson from a failure than from a success.