It is an unfortunate fact that many small businesses do not achieve long-term success. Although small business owners and managers work tirelessly to achieve their dreams and build a fledgling business into an established, successful entity, many fail for various reasons along the way. It’s therefore understandable that many aspiring entrepreneurs, both in and out of a formal educational program, study small business case studies in order to gain valuable insights into how other, successful professionals, small businesses and organizations were able to succeed while many of their contemporaries did not.

Understand The Limitations

Case studies can be easily found on the Internet, and are often broken down by a business expert or journalist into a short summary of insights, facts and even anecdotes. However, it is important to understand the limitations of adapting case studies to your own business, and why it is important to have the “full picture” before implementing a radical or expensive promotion or strategy.

Be Sure You Have The Full Picture

Small business owners and managers, especially those that are experiencing difficulty maintaining the viability of their business, often seek out radically new business strategies and plans that will provide a much-needed boost or “shot in the arm”. Many small business case studies provide examples of such strategies that successfully saved other businesses and organizations, and owners and managers are often eager to hastily adapt these strategies. However, before a radical or expensive new plan is implemented, it is important to make sure you have as much relevant information and data as possible about the business in question – this is especially true if you are relying on a third-party summary of a business case study. What may have successfully worked for the original business may not necessarily work for yours for any number of reasons including differences in industries, time periods and local cultures and customs – for example, a strategy that successfully worked for a restaurant based in Massachusetts in 1995 may not work for a restaurant based in Texas in 2015.

Make Sure The Strategy Will Successfully Scale

When studying small business case studies, and especially when comparing a case study to your own small business, be sure that you have a clear understanding of just how “small” the business really is. When preparing articles and blog posts, journalists and consultants will often stretch the definition of “small business” to include companies that are, in reality, much larger than what many of us would consider as a small business. This poses real problems when a smaller business attempts to adapt a successful strategy utilized by a larger business, only to find they have insufficient resources to follow-through. Be sure that any strategy you attempt to adapt will successfully scale up or down to your business before investing valuable time in resources.