Abstract: Academic literature on business success consists mainly of theorising with a little empirical evidence from large and small to medium sized businesses, typically in urban locations. Two features that have been lacking are a focus on business failure and consideration of businesses in remote and/or desert regions. Furthermore, on the basis of employee numbers, desert businesses tend to be micro-businesses, not even reaching the status of small business. This presentation therefore reports on three case studies of desert located businesses. Case study research was undertaken to gain insight into the challenges to operating businesses in desert Australia. In one desert region of the Northern Territory the owner-operators of three different discontinued businesses were interviewed with a focus on why they no longer operate in the region. The results provide an interesting opportunity to interpret the theories in operational terms for this region. The principal challenges identified by the interviewees were the lack of motivated, capable and reliable staff; poor business advice; criminal activity; inexperience; and misplaced trust.