Find the right keys and align them to your future before you commit to a project.
Be careful what you set your heart on
Even entrepreneurs are can be suckers for a good story, or commit to a project for purely emotional reasons.
People think being their own boss and owning their own business someday is the quickest way to turn that dream into reality. But not everyone is cut out to own and run a business successfully or owning a business that suits them, not just what happens along the way.
While owning your own business can be can be incredibly rewarding and bring a great deal of fulfilment to you, it can also become a burden and very challenging. Whether you are a manager of a business, starting a business or have your own business, there are things you should consider in order to minimise the risks of failure.
“Failure can come in many forms and continuous small failings can eventually add up to a major failure of the business, just as continuous small actions can build your success”. Peter Sergeant
There are many things that can cause your business to struggle. Things such as lack of experience, lack of focused action, poor markets, employee problems, poor working capital but these disasters can be minimised through a good business plan.
Insufficient planning is usually the reason most people’s struggle, as they live from day to day struggling with the same old problems until something finally brakes. Many of you will have found it hard at times to see your unique gifts and roles in a positive light; don’t despair, just keep learning.
Having a well thought out business plan, understanding your customers’ problems, frustrations wants and needs, developing an effective marketing approach and having a complete understanding of your finances can help you to avoid the struggles I had to cope with in my early business career.
People I mixed with at that time thought a business plan was all about numbers and if you could add up the figures you would have a good business plan. How wrong they were. A good business plan has both words and numbers.
It has often been hard to balance everything, but by re-evaluating my priorities and how my time is spent was always a good way to bring me back from the brink and make appropriate decisions on going forward.
How long should I stick it out when things are not working for me?
What a question? It’s a question that plagued me on many occasions and could keep me awake at night. Watching your business fail is an unpleasant and debilitating experience, ask farmers and businesses who have been through a prolonged drought.
There is something enticing and compelling about being an extremist, whether it’s being the biggest, most advanced, the fastest or the most unique, all may not be possible but will come at a cost.
Your business can reach a point of no return, a point when tough decisions have to be made as the business is no longer viable and beyond resuscitation. It can be tempting, especially after investing a large amount of time and money, to want to stick it out until the end, hoping things will change.
“Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make”. Donald Trump
Consider, however, where this will leave you if you do, as hard as it may be, decide at what point you will walk away, whether it is a dollar amount or a certain date, know where your pain barrier is, and your boundaries.
Sometimes you might simply need to abandon some projects you have been struggling and are dragging you down. Tomorrow is a new day, so take a look at a new approach and some new projects you can introduce to your business and don’t become weighed down through procrastination and a lack of concerted effort.
Having your business fail feels like a personal defeat. Dealing with the trauma of losing your business can be challenging, but the sooner you get out the sooner you can start to put your life back together and the less your capital base and credibility will diminish.
Think and reflect on why you or your business is struggling in the first place and what you could be doing differently. What caused the problems, how could you have avoided or resolved the problems? You can learn from your failures as they are a prerequisite to learning and improving your decision-making about future projects.
If you were going to do it over again, what would you do differently? Write down what you have learned from your experiences and what you would do differently next time. Writing things down helps you to crystallise your thoughts and communicate with others. The eBooks and the thousands of documents I have written all started with me writing down my thoughts.
As you struggle with your choice of projects, be honest with others and yourself about what is happening. Above all stay away from the blame game no matter how you would like to voice your opinions. People who blame others will find it will come back to haunt them and in the end, who cares anyway.
Your best bet is to simply move on and ignore negative vexatious people and avoid any recrimination. I have a big laugh to myself from the comments passed on to me, about what some people in my past are saying as they try and vent their frustrations with their own situations.
Begin to rebuild yourself and your list of projects from any setbacks, start building better relationships with people with good values, set new goals and get the support you feel you need. Make a list of the things that are doing well and write about how you have grown over time. Once you start to do this you will have no time for recrimination.
If people like you, they will at least listen to you, but if they trust you they will like your projects and do business with you. You should keep taking small steps every day on the projects which will have the biggest positive impact on your situation and your future outlook.
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If your business is in trouble because of the projects you are working on? Review your business plan, looking at the plans you have established for each main function of the business and at least make sure the projects you are involved in are in alignment. Revisit your market research and your business’s relevance to the current market conditions.
Should you be working on the projects in your business plan and your still struggling, you may need to consult with someone who can help you. This can be difficult particularly in regional, rural and remote areas, however, there are many ways of getting the help you need using modern information technology and communications.
Most struggling projects have funding troubles. Financial pressures lead to personal pressures, which lead to more business pressures and you finish up on a downward spiral, which is hard to stop and leads to health problems.
Don’t accept the excuses of your financial records not being up to date, there is no reason today why a business should not have a complete set of financial statements produced on time every month for each project.
If your business is failing, look at how you are managing your personal and business projects. If your business is still not making a profit after you have lowered your expenses and plugged the leaks, you may need to consider restructuring your business model and focus more on the important projects associated with lead generation, customer service and branding.