For new entrepreneurs, there isn’t a magic bullet or a fool-proof plan to business success. The younger your business is the more likely you are to end up in the failure heap of small businesses. If you want to avoid being a statistic, you will need to learn to take consistent intentional action with regards to how you start, grow and build your business.
Based on both my own experience and those of other entrepreneurs whom I have worked with, I have put together some of the most common issues that I have come across in my many years of helping entrepreneurs develop and take their businesses to the next level.
Lack of Patience. Patience is grossly underestimated. We live in a time where becoming an entrepreneur or getting to CEO status has been glamorized and for that reason, many people think that the minute they decide to put on the entrepreneur hat and open for business that instant success will follow. You have got to be prepared to stay in the game even when nothing is happening and when you feel like quitting. You have to stay the course and put in the work and allow your business time to be known (by the right people) for what you do. Despite all of the hype and other such online promises, there is no shortcut to becoming successful. You have got to double down and put in the work while doing everything you can to get your business in the right position to succeed.
Not following their passion. Just because it’s cool to be a start-up founder now does not mean that it is what you need to become. Building a business requires a number of success-oriented character traits such as drive, dedication, a serious sense of commitment and passion. If you are in a business just because it’s the newest trend or because of the potential to make a lot of money, then when hard times come that may make you want to throw up your arms and simply give up then you will be the first one to jump ship if it is something that you are not passionate about. Passion will drive you. It will keep you going despite the difficulties that your business will inevitably come across. I have had may times where I wanted to quit, but my passion for what I do to help others success is what keeps me going. You need to have a passion of some sort. Whether you are passionate about what you’re selling, or if you’re passionate about seeing others succeed like I am, make sure that passion is there. Your passion will lead you to success.
Being Afraid of Marketing. Marketing, whether it’s word of mouth, traditional advertising or Internet marketing, helps to get your business in front of people (today) who may very well need your products or services (tomorrow). Too many small business owners either do not have a budget for marketing or assume that they don’t have a need for it. As such, having a clearly thought out marketing plan is essential. The best type of marketing channel(s) will depend largely upon your business and who your target audience is. Too often, the mistake made by so many new entrepreneurs is wrongly assuming that they don’t need to do any marketing and that business will come to you.
Skipping the Planning Stage. While creating a business plan may be tedious, without a good roadmap for direction it will be really easy to get off course. Planning is no more than taking the time out to document what you want and need to accomplish, and formulating a strategy and tactics for getting it done. Having a written plan gives you a clear way to articulate what it is you do, how you have gotten to this point and where you are headed. The most important components of a business plan to consider include the Marketing Plan, a Financial Plan, and a Strategic Plan. While you will need to remain flexible and adapt as the competitive and industry landscapes change, it is unwise to skip the planning stage. Plenty of tools exist that make writing a business plan practically painless. There’s probably even “an app for that”.
Not knowing who your customer is. Far too often I have met entrepreneurs who tell me that their product or service will help “anyone” or “everybody.” This is rooted in the “Build it and they will come” mindset, which shows how much some business owners actually don’t’ know when it comes to marketing. Taking time to figure out who your idea customer is and how your product/service will best suit their need is critical. All too often, entrepreneurs spend their energy on everything but having conversations with current and potential customers. Knowing specifically how your product/service solves a problem or meets a need helps you to be able to create and deliver the precise solutions to meet customers’ needs. In the end. It will make your marketing cost far more effective and enable you to better position your business in front of the right people.
Not Mastering the Money Matters. Money is the lifeblood of your business. As a business owner, not only do you have to figure out ways to make money, you have to figure out ways to keep it. Profit is always better than Revenue. It’s not about how much you make; it’s about how much you get to keep. Every dollar that you create and protect as bottom line profit is much more valuable to your business than revenue. While a single drastic financial decision can cause a business to fail, failure more often than not follows a series of bad decisions and financial mistakes. The problem that I have noticed with most entrepreneurs is that they don’t understand how the impact of many of their decisions affect their bottom line and often overspend on things that do not generate income. These mistakes can be avoided by giving more attention to the details of the business cash flow throughout the year. Understand what your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are, and always think of expenses in terms of how they’ll generate future revenue for the company.
Based on my own personal roller coaster experience with and operating multiple businesses, I can easily understand how both new and seasoned entrepreneurs make mistakes all the time. Indeed, the world’s most recognizable entrepreneurs usually had as many failures as successes over the course of their careers.
While some of these issues are minor and can be corrected on the fly, some especially those that concern money, can easily put you out of business. Financing is a big reason why the vast majority of startups fail during their first few years of operation.
We all make mistakes. The key is being aware of them and consistently working to make smart, well-informed decisions in your business. If you can do that, and remain resilient when you do make a mistake, success will be within your reach.