Ouch! There’s no touchier subject than discussing failure and as an entrepreneur, I’ve had several humbling experiences that taught me that this entrepreneurial thing isn’t as easy as some try to make it seem. Realizing that your business isn’t doing well can be tough, but guess what? Just turn it around.
It’s extremely easy for us to identify when our product or service is just not up-to-par – that’s generally a clear and very easily identifiable problem, but what do you examine when that’s not the issue? Here are 5 areas to analyze:
1. You’re married to your inefficiencies.
Although your output is great, perhaps the way you’re getting to your end product isn’t so hot. Maybe you don’t spend enough time examining your suppliers for your beauty shop and inadvertently paying a boatload on shampoo or maybe it’s time to realize that your energy and labor costs would be so much less if the hours of your restaurant would shift just a little. There are so many small changes that we can make to yield larger returns on our business investments, but if we are convinced that we are doing things the best way they can be executed, then we’re bound to fail. There’s always room for improvement.
Tip: Look thoroughly at each and every area of your operational efficiency. If something doesn’t work, change it. No matter how much money you’ve invested in that new website or new office lighting, it’s never too late to adjust. Don’t hurt yourself by being stuck in a process that just isn’t for you. Remember, change is good!
2. You’re targeting the wrong audience.
I know that you were bummed when your techie friend said that your new book light invention was silly because people don’t read real books anymore or when everyone said that you shouldn’t offer concierge services because people can do it themselves. Here’s the thing: someone, somewhere wants exactly what you have to offer. Your ideas are good. They came from a good place, a smart place. You can sell this. You just have to find the people that will pay for what you’re offering and it to them.
Tip: Identify who would benefit from your product or service and figure out where they are. Those are the people you need to me targeting. You and you business should be both physically and virtually wherever they are. When you hit that bull’s eye, our bottom line will thank you.
3. You’re under-marketing.
You know that really cool product you’re selling and that really awesome service you’re offering? No one can buy it if they don’t know about it. It’s time to up the ante. You need a formal marketing strategy to get your message out because currently, you may be missing the mark.
Tip: Get a marketing pro on your side, in-house or outsourced, to help you develop a strategy and build your brand. You may be aware of your brand, which is a great step, but now, it’s time to help other people know who you are and what your business has to offer.
4. You over-promise.
I’m guilty! I admit it. I want so badly to please my clients and others that I have been a serial over-committer – agreeing to things that my resources, primarily time, just may not accommodate. Over-promising can be deadly for your business because when you fail to meet deadlines, you lose credibility. This definitely hurt me and affected my growth early on, but once I learned to be totally honest with my clients and business associates with what they could expect from me, our relationships were able to grow.
Tip: Give yourself some cushion. Outline exactly what you will do. Clarity helps and once you deliver on exactly what you promise, you’ll prove that you’re trustworthy.
5. You don’t hire professionals.
I’m the do-it-yourself queen. I’ve taught myself everything from graphic design to website building, but I can never know everything and neither can you. There are certain things that I can’t buy and that I just don’t have the time to learn.
Tip: Seek referrals and do your research before hiring professionals. In some cases, you can save money by working part of the process yourself and then hiring someone to just make necessary adjustments. In a lot of cases though, you’ll need a pro to come in and help you start something from scratch so that it’s the very best it can be. Regardless, hire the best and make it great.