I’m going to be honest with you if you plan to become a successful entrepreneur. You are almost definitely going to fail. How can I say this with such certainty? Simple, the numbers are on my side.
According to Forbes, 80% of all businesses fail within the first year and a half.
That’s a heavy statistic to digest; enough to send even the most daring potential business owners running for the hills. However, the call of entrepreneurship remains strong enough that we keep pursuing. Maybe it’s the lifestyle benefits, maybe it’s the feeling of being our own bosses, maybe we’re just a little crazy.
Sure, some entrepreneurs have a few failures before finding their success stories and mountains of motivational posts and blog entries have been made about them. This is not one of those entries. This post is about the other side of the coin, the wannabe entrepreneurs who fail over and over again and never improve their chances of success. Don’t be like them.
It is unrealistic to assume anyone can live without failure. In fact, failure is an absolute necessity for those who crave long-term success. The reason? Failure is a stepping-stone and can be the catalyst for both improvement and growth. It’s because of our past failure that we can learn from our mistakes.
Of course, the only way you will ever benefit from failure is if you learn from your mistakes and correct them! It drives me insane to see fellow entrepreneurs wasting so much time by making the same common and simple mistakes over and over!
Here are 4 of the most common mistakes I see from new entrepreneurs.
1- They Fail To Plan
It’s important to realize that working in your business is a different thing than working on your business. A chef who never leaves the kitchen cannot run a successful restaurant by himself because he is too busy working in the kitchen to pay attention to other crucial aspects of the business.
If you are going to be the leader your business needs, you must be in a position to regularly take a step back and see how your company is running as a whole.
However, when faced with the mammoth task of marketing, sales, customer services, taxes, and dreaded payroll, where is it possible to work on your business?
The primary factor that’ll set apart the successors and the failures is the ability to plan. Disorganized traits will almost certainly lead to a disorganized business, thus failure. But, when plans are in place and organization flows, goals can be achieved and the elusive success is far more within eyesight.
A scenario for you. A train leaves New York, heading down the tracks to Philadelphia. This train has a goal, an intention: which is to arrive at 30th Street Station on a specific date and time.
For this train to be able to complete this task, it’s imperative that it creates and follows a specific plan. A train’s plan is called a journey planner; which includes its specific line route, average speeds, number of stations passed and the intended direction of travel. The plan ensures that this train knows when to leave Grand Central Station in New York for it to arrive at Philadelphia at it’s required time.
Now, to flip it on its head, imagine if this train had no plans. Having a goal without a plan to execute it is simply a wish; a passing thought. Just a hope that things will just work out how you’d like them to. Imagine, for a moment, if this train had no idea how it was going to arrive at where it was supposed to? It’s laughable, isn’t it?
Like the train route, entrepreneurship and goal-achievement are very much established and thrive upon the smooth execution of a well-organized plan. However, once the plan is made anything can happen. What if the train was to experience delays due to collisions or crowded stations? Does the train just sit there and refuse to go any further? Absolutely not!
A train that finds itself having to counter certain obstacles along its journey must make reasonable adjustments to its plan. Just like a train conductor, entrepreneurs need to have concrete plans in place with achievable goals and the plan must be flexible enough to allow for reasonable adjustments.
If failing in business is not an option for you, then you need to plan. And, coincidentally, if you fail to plan, then that’s what you’ll have success in: failing. And this may not be immediate but something that spirals over time until there is nothing else but to admit defeat.
2 – They Practice Poor Time Management
A scary and sometimes difficult skill to hone; yet another strong perpetrator to why businesses fail is the clear lack of effective time management abilities. The biggest kicker of all is that time is life’s greatest equalizer and for some, the greatest adversary. No one has more time than the other and as much as some wish, it’s one thing money just cannot buy. Time doesn’t bat an eyelid at wealth, career choice or the location of who is asking for more.
Every one of us has a precious twenty-four hours in a day, or to be truly devastating 1,440 minutes. And we need to spend each of those minutes as if they were the most precious thing to us.
There isn’t a person on earth who wants to work all the time; but when you are responsible for your own business, sometimes you have no choice. You need to pull your pants up, put a game face on and just push on through. There’s no such thing as a social life or celebrating success when there’s so much work to do. The way to remedy this unbalance is to put your nose to the grindstone, never dawdle and continue with massive and efficient action. Procrastination is a big killer, and your business won’t thank you for putting it off another week.
“Make time to save time” is a mantra all entrepreneurs should live by. If you are not spending at least 15 minutes every day thinking about how you will spend your time that day, you are NOT doing enough to protect your precious time.
Having a system is key. I highly suggest you look at implementing the “Quadrant” system as explained by Stephen. R. Covey in his highly acclaimed book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”. If you’ve not come across this book before, it is certainly worth grabbing yourself a copy and having a good read.
Wasting time kills businesses. Don’t fall into this trap. Time is precious and with everything precious, it needs to be well spent and invested properly.
3 – Persistence
The third factor as to why business owners fail is due to the simple yet important lack of persistence. The bottom line is that it is hard, running and maintaining a business, don’t let anyone kid you otherwise. It is important to recognize that a whopping 80% of businesses that fail in their first 18 months of infancy is due to a very clear lack of persistence.
Naturally, the other two aforementioned factors have their part in the blame game but at its very core persistence is the true kicker. And what can be even worse is not knowing how close you may have been to succeeding before you chucked it all away. You could have been inches away from the metaphorical trophy of success before deciding to give it all up. The real question we must ask ourselves is, if we are going to throw in the towel and give up, how would you ever know how close you were to success?
The biggest asset to persistence is your level of commitment. It is your drive and desire that will have you able to achieve goals and always remembering the foundations you built as reasons for needing to succeed. Just the same as a tree needs deep roots to ensure it can weather any gale or storm or a ship needs an anchor so it does not drift out to sea; your business needs the same. And when we continuously remind ourselves of these, it is then that we grit our teeth and crack on. We must always recognize that there is a wider world to success than just the obtaining of wealth.
When your reasons stop you ruining things with excuses, and are personal and deeply thought of, then the chances of your remaining persistent are far higher. Family, security, freedom are some of our greatest motivators and you must search for which of these are your reason to ensure true success within your business.
There is a reason the phrase “don’t fix if it’s not broken” exists. If something works and it has worked for a considerable amount of time, there’s clearly something right about either the product or process. Trying to shove a sphere into a square hole isn’t a reinvention, it is just setting yourself up for failure.
Trying to start a new business on radical thought and that everything from there on out will be new and innovative and game-changing is like trying to climb Mount Everest in flip flops. Whilst innovation is an important part of entrepreneurship, you must also look at what already exists, it’s the reason for success and how you can implement this or make subtle changes. Not every aspect of your business can be considered revolutionary, such as hiring, sales or marketing.
Imitation is an important part of most businesses and whilst you don’t want to be a cookie cut of another business, to try and be a renegade and do everything new off the bat is asking for trouble.
Take email as a very relevant example. How many of us regularly check our emails or use email services whether in business or simply socially? An email has been in existence for decades now and the reason for its success compared to other more recent yet now-defunct is because it works. However, where a business will thrive is utilizing the basic product of email and developing it further; as many companies fail to utilize email to its full potential as a very successful marketing tool.
Bottom line: don’t try and reinvent the wheel. It works just as it is. Just develop a more efficient tire!
So if you’ve read all this and find yourself screaming about not wanting to fall short to one of these potential traps, stay organized, keep your plans up to date, manage your time efficiently and effectively, remind yourself of your reasons for wanting to succeed and don’t get caught up in too much radical thought. It’s okay to fail, just do better next time!