Understanding the things that drive you out of business is important. It helps you correct any issues that you didn’t recognize happening in your business or it helps you avoid the issues all together.
When I put together this list, it had no particular order…but each point is still extremely important.
Lack of Planning
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
This is true for every stage of your business. Spend time thinking about the common issues you could encounter and how you will solve those problems. Being proactive is your best friend when it comes to running a successful business.
Lack of Effort
I’ve worked from home now for four years. During that time, I’ve encountered I don’t know how many people who want to work from home…until they realize it’s actually work. Lack of effort can and will destroy your business.
Lack of effort can appear in a disguise, by the way. It’s not always just waiting magically for clients to fall out of the sky and shower you with money. It often shows up in finding many other things to do or not wanting to get up early to have uninterrupted time (if you have a family or traditional job) or give up some social time (including time spent scrolling through Facebook) in the evening. It also comes disguised as procrastination. I recently read an interesting quote about procrastination. It means you’re betting that future self isn’t as lazy as current self. (Guess what? Tomorrow never comes…so do it now.)
Make sure that people really understand what it is that you do…and that you’re always on the same page with your clients when it comes to objectives and methodology. You’d think with all of the avenues we have for communication that we humans would be better at it. We’re not. Ask questions. Get clarity.
Lack of Work Ethic
When you work from home, there’s no one that makes sure that you’re doing what you need to do. If you lack work ethic, you will destroy your business. It’s all about self-discipline. It means you work through the times you’re bored. It means you learn how to focus and get the job done. Your work won’t complete itself. One unhappy client can bring your entire business crashing down around your ears. Bad reviews travel fast on the Internet…even if you feel they’re unjustified or that you had a darn good reason.
Target Market Issues
Do you know enough about your target market? Take the time to develop an ideal client profile. This will help you understand the needs of your client and it will help you figure out where you can find them.
You’re Not Setting Any Goals
Without goals, you’ll have no idea whether your business is reaching its potential. I know that starting and running a business can be overwhelming. You can start small. You can stay small. You don’t have to set giant goals unless that’s your thing. You can start by just setting a goal to create your ideal client profile. Then set a goal to write down three ideas you could use to reach your ideal clients. You can think about financial goals. You can create any sort of goal you want. Maybe your goal is to go through the motions and lay all the groundwork for your business. Maybe the next goal is to find one client. You can just work your way through whatever makes sense for you.
And if you like big goals? Go for it.
By the way, not reaching a goal isn’t a sign of failure. It is a sign that you should review your goals and the actions that you’re taking (or your timeline). It’s a lesson, not a failure.
Could be lunch with friends. Could be hours of time wasted on social media. Again, this is an issue of self-discipline. I know my core distractions. Four of them are furry and have four legs. One likes to chew on my shoes. One likes to cuddle. One loves to eat. And one doesn’t give a flying fart about the rest of us (yeah, it’s a cat). Aside from them, I can get easily distracted by my cell phone particularly if the copywriting project I’m working on is monotonous. Hey, it happens. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb, Priority Only. This means only my sons, husband, and one school teacher can call or text me. I put my cell phone out of my sight, but still within reach (in case the school calls). You can do something about the distraction. Even if it’s hard.
I certainly believe in changing courses if a business really doesn’t work, but you must give your business enough effort and time before you dump it. How much time is ultimately up to you. I will say that I believe most businesses can and should run lean. For service based businesses, there’s a good chance you already have everything you need or that you can get what you need on the cheap. The statistics from the SBA state that it generally takes two years before a business shows a profit. Yet, if you’re running a micro-business (that is, something on the side of your traditional job), I’d advise that you not worry too much about that two-year time frame. Look at the totality of the situation (including the reality of whether your business could truly be profitable and if you’re happy) before making the decision to pull the plug.
Oh, and I’m a big believer in doing research before a business is started to determine the likelihood of its success. I don’t necessarily mean looking for competition. I mean looking to see if there is a way for you to make a living doing what you want to do.
If you’re not profitable or if your clients aren’t happy, it’s no one’s fault other than yours. Do not make excuses. Acknowledge problems and create solutions. Excuses are funny little creatures because so many people who have them see them as a reason. There are very few legitimate reasons.
Being tired is an excuse. It is not a reason.
Having children isn’t a reason for not pursuing your dreams (I have three children and my youngest was four when I started writing for a living…and he has special needs).
If you really want your business to succeed, cut the crap.
When it comes to business, attitude will make or break you. Everything we experience in life comes from within. It’s all in how we process the situation. I read an analogy once about a party. If you took a photo of three people in a heated argument and showed it to a bunch of people who didn’t go to the party, they’d be glad they didn’t go. If you took a photo of three other people at the same party dancing and having a great time and showed it to people, you’d hear about how those who didn’t attend wish they would have gone.
How you choose to place your focus is up to you. And, no, I’m not saying it’s easy. I am saying it is a necessity if you want to meet your goals and enjoy the process.