I am especially suited to discuss this topic because it happened to me. So let me briefly paint you a picture. Imagine you decided to put everything on the line to create a new business… all on your own. No mentor. No help. Little capital.
You literally stumble through painful hours of hardship with little result. Then you begin to see some real fruits of your labor.
You begin to understand and piece together how to really operate the business as you walk unguided through the mist of uncertainty.
You get a little confidence and momentum and something whispers to you.. “you could do this”. “You know what you’re doing”.
You get a little vindication and even some self respect back after all the embarrassing moments you had to live through. But then you begin to hit a plateau after plateau and you see the little successes you had slip away month by month.
You make bold blind moves that you thought would play out. You are trying so hard to hold on to the dream of what you imagined it could be.
And as the truth toy’s with that gut feeling and lump in your throat. You know what is happening. And then it happens….the business takes its final blow.
And then you are just stunned. Unable to really “move” or make a decision as the final pieces of what you breathed into creation…disappear.
I wanted to briefly paint you a picture of what happened to me from 2013 to 2017 with my first solo business. So allow me to impart my 3 Warning Signs that you might be in a downward spiral or what to look out for so you can not let this happen to you.
So if you are spending more time on (or do not have any system’s for) any other area then sales, you are either about too or already begun the process of failing.
Sooo…lets get into my 3 Warning Signs Of A Failing Business.
(In no order of importance over the other)
Warning Sign #1 – Are you making excuses for doing the hard things that you know need to get done.
Are you putting that phone call, email or meeting off with a customer or client? Are you making excuses for not being prepared or thinking the other person was “in charge” of this or that?
Are you self-sabotaging yourself cause its flat out scary and hard? Are you choosing to not train that person cause it will effect your bottom line?
Something that I did OFTEN in my business was letting members, potential clients and even my staff not hear from me for way too long. I would say to myself, “Im in charge and they will hear from me when I decide”.
It was my ego of being the “head honcho” mixed with the uncertainty of not having the answer. This lead me into some very embarrassing situations as the owner. And ended up hurting my upside cause things were so up in the air I lost that initial trust. So after a certain number of embarrassing and shameful moments I had to face myself And realize that just responding back as fast as I could, even if I didnt have an answer was 10 times better than no answer at all. And when I began doing that, I had less fear when I saw a missed call or notification. If you notice you are beginning to do the above mentioned actions, then I would (quickly) schedule a sit down with someone you trust (with your feelings) and will listen too.
Ideally someone that owns a business or is a professional on some level but if there is no-one then make sure its someone that understands you and will give honest feedback. Then walk them through how your business operates and how it makes money.
Tell them what you’ve been noticing about yourself, your procrastinating and your inability to really face some important decisions for your business.
Ask them if they have ever over came similar issues. This will be hard but you need to be honest. This will hopefully give you a hard face to face look at yourself.
And then you will either have new found energy and tactics to overcome your personal struggles or you may face the facts that you just dont want to do this anymore.
Which isn’t especially a “bad thing”. Entrepreneurship is HARD. And Not for everyone. But you need to be able to look at this situation that is happening cause to me its a test. A test of how bad do you want this to happen? Cause you will always be your toughest hurdle. And this talk should be enlightening to this fact.
Warning Sign #2 – Are you not investing in yourself and your team to learn new skills.
I mean wholly crap this is vital. If you think the way you did/do business 3 years ago is the same and you can just continue in the same manner you will ultimately begin to seal your fate with your business. This is almost always tied up with EGO. You think you always “know” what’s best and what to do. And you DID.. but what got you here will not be enough to keep you here.
Listen to what happened to me. On my 11th month in business I netted around $9k.
And I was ecstatic! I took screen shots of it in my bank and shared it to the small group of people that supported me.
This was a HUGE deal for me and my little business. But you wanna know something super funny thats really NOT funny. I just kept it in my bank.
I didn’t spend it on myself, or my business or anything else. I was so scared of not seeing it in my bank it made me slightly catatonic with my business. I worked so hard to get to that level and I didnt know if it would happen again. So I just left it there. Heck, I even waited to order uniforms till way past the time I promised the parents they would be in. (embarrassed?…. A lot!)
I didn’t immediately invest it into training someone else, learning a new skill or improving our marketing budget. And what happened was that money slowly began disappearing. And what if I used it to train someone else to acquire new business? Could I have created another $9k month and another? Probably. But I chose to just “HOPE” it would happen again. Instead of investing in the future of my business so I could MAKE it happen again.
The reality is, that the economy, technology and your customer avatar is changing. And if you and your team are not investing in more and more ways to acquire actionable skills then you will begin to loose to your competitor who is acquiring new skills. Find a mentor, find a course, invest a good amount into training your team. The talent of your people that you hire will take you further than you alone could ever do. And as frustrating and time and resources consuming acquiring new skills is.. its a MUST! To survive and thrive in whatever industry you are in.
Warning Sign #3 – Shiny Object Syndrome. Did you catch it?
Wether you having been doing business for 2 or 20 years we all can fall victim to this syndrome. Which is loosing focus on the core business that is brining you money to invest in that new opportunity, new partnership, new business idea, new whatever!
If it takes your energy and focus then is potentially could be the end for your business faster than you can say bankrupt.
And you’ll begin making concession everywhere. “Its ok that the numbers dropped a little bit….we’ve recovered before”. “Its ok that I haven’t been in touch with my team… they’ve always been able to handle things in the past”.
I am especially victim to this often, albeit better these days cause I have a partner that tempers this syndrome for me. But it can 100% be your DOWNFALL.
My experience with this is vast. After my first year I began talking like I knew what the hell I was talking about when deep inside I felt like an imposter.
But when you put Entrepreneur as your title and you’ve seen a little success people began offering you opportunities or asking for help from me. And you know what it was… it was flattering.
So I took that meeting, worked on outside projects that had nothing to do with my core business. (Ask Cris about the time I told her I wanted to create a Kids Bjj League with her!) I mean I was on cloud 9 when an old mentor reached back out to me and offered to work together in a big way. I worked hard on that opportunity and ignored (not completely) my business cause I said to myself, “this could be the real ticket to my success”. Does that sound familiar to you?
Now are you able to “look at” proposals, ideas and opportunities outside your business, absolutely! BUT ONLY when your business has a high level of self sustaining systems. Meaning YOU can NOT be the main person running your business and producing results. It can not be dependent on you.
So ask yourself the following. Do you have a team that is constantly learning and creating and growing certain aspects of the business for you? Do you have a complete business systems manual you can drop in a manger or partners lap and it has all the answers for them to use. Do you have 6 mo worth of savings to keep your core business afloat if you hit a rough patch through the years?
Only when you can answer in the affirmative of the list above can you begin to invest in outside interests. And although as you get more successful the temptations get bigger, you need to always make sure “what got you there” is healthy and thriving. (Especially if you have a family to support) So in closing, learn from my mistakes. I did all of the above… and I did them very well. And unlike successful entrepreneurs telling you, “do this and this to not fail”. I actually lived it, FELT it and recovered from it. And I do not wish loosing a business on my worst enemy.
Now I want to leave you with 2 final thoughts.
One is that ALL of this (potentially) could have been avoided with investing in a mentor.
So you need to look into that. Vet them and hire them if not barter your time. Most who have seen success know the value of a mentor because they had one.
And number two, is the hardest to swallow but the most important to digest….
ALL of this was 100% my fault. And everything from a team member/employee not clocking in to you not answering that email is YOUR fault.
I truly hope this was helpful and I thank you for you time in reading this.
Tell me: What have been some of your hardest lessons you’ve learned?