7 Reasons Your Start-Up Isn’t Working (and How to Fix it)

Photo by: Marco Verch, CreativeCommons.

Photo by: Marco Verch, CreativeCommons.

Many of the women in the Reclaim Your Dreams community start entrepreneurial ventures. Starting a business can be hard (even when it is your dream), but for many of us the freedom, meaning, and financial upside make it worth the risk and challenges.

As I look to 2017 and my personal and professional goals, I have been considering what mistakes companies that I have worked with make (never me, my execution is flawless) as they move toward traction-point. Not always, but my experience is major issues pretty consistently comes down to not addressing the following fundamentals. (Interesting that these same principles apply to other goals too.)

  1. Unclear vision. Know where you are going. Being firmly committed to providing a product or service that provides benefit to a particular customer is always the starting point. Write down the answer to these three questions and you will have the start of your vision. What’s your product or service? Who is your target customer? Why is it important (beneficial, life-changing, impactful, etc.)?
  2. Bad idea. Evaluate your idea and ensure that it is providing significant value to your target audience. Every day I drive through a small town center. Among the flourishing storefronts, I have seen many business failures. For the most part, it’s been painfully obvious from the moment that they opened their doors (even to my kids – who would do there?!) that the owner did not have a viable business model. Business success is not guaranteed, of course, but you can reduce your risk of failure. Start by completing some baseline market research. Also drill down on a revenue and expense model to ensure that you will be able to make a profit.
  3. No short-term goal. Research shows people achieve goals when they are no more than eighteen months away. Beyond that, know what action you are going to take today. I love big visions, but every business needs short-term goals as well. What are the goals of your business in the next six months to one year? I recommend three goals: a revenue, give-back, and organizational.
  4. Doing too much. Focus is non-negotiable, especially if you are bootstrapping your business. It may feel counter-intuitive, but the more you hone your focus the larger your market opportunity. Commit to one product or service to a very targeted customer and expand from there.
  5. Poor business development plan. Let your customers know that you exist and why! Build it and they will come is a nice idea, but who is they and how will they know you exist? Many business owners avoid selling because they don’t like to feel sales-y.   Your job is providing information to your potential customers and it’s up to them to determine whether or not it’s beneficial.
  6. Not hitting launch on your imperfect product. No action. No progress. The new business model favors businesses that are willing to launch imperfect products. It’s easy to get derailed by unimportant tasks or the next shiny idea to talking about your plans. Once you know your goals for the year and have a plan, start every single day with essential micro steps that will move you toward that goal. If the unexpected happens, hustle like a motha and figure out your Plan B for staying on track.
  7. No support. Bootstrapping a new venture can be a lonely endeavor; know who your go-to business peeps are. It’s a better alternative than wringing your hands or hiding under a blanket eating a pint of ice cream when you encounter an obstacle or make a mistake.

You may need to adjust and rework, but address these issues one step at a time and you will increase your likelihood of success tenfold!!

Take 5: Write down your company vision and/or your six to twelve month goal.

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