Ninety percent of people who start an online business never finish it. Let that sink in a bit. Ninety percent of business ideas fail before they even get started. But why is it so easy to fail? Many of these new entrepreneurs forget why they’re in the business to start with.
They may have vague ideas about making a lot of money, but no real motivation to make their business a success. Getting back to the passion that initially drove your idea for business is key. Find what you’re good at and market that passion. Those ninety-percenters may also have past failures that hold them back from investing everything in a new venture. Or they may fail by not seeing a venture through and jumping from company to company at the slightest drawback.
The numbers don’t lie. Of those few entrepreneurs who manage to create a business, nearly fifty percent will fail in the first year. Even with a terrific idea and financial backing, businesses still fail. As an entrepreneur, the responsibility for success or failure falls on your shoulders.
Six pitfalls to avoid if you want to get your business off to the right start
Getting a business up and running takes time, effort, and belief. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen without your complete investment in time and energy. Once your business is up and running, you may be able to step back and reap the rewards. But a stagnant business is also doomed for failure. Success is not an end game. It is an ever-evolving journey. And while it’s important not to dwell on small failures, it’s just as important to leverage small successes into bigger ones. Here are six common entrepreneurial pitfalls to avoid.
1. Fear of failure means you’ve already failed.
Fear is the number one pitfall that faces entrepreneurs. Fear that your investment will be wasted or fear that you don’t have the skills or know-how to create a lasting online presence. Ideas fail to get turned into real businesses because of fear. It’s easier to stay in a job that makes you miserable than to risk a stable life and make the leap to business ownership. In this way, many businesses fail before they even begin.
Fear of the unknown also holds back people. It sometimes paralyzes them and stops them from taking any kind of action. You need to take the uncomfortable and make it comfortable. This might mean learning new technology or overcoming a fear of putting yourself out there on the internet. The trick to overcoming this kind of fear is persistence and taking baby steps. One small step at a time, the unknown eventually becomes known, and then it’s all just part of the process.
For instance, maybe you don’t like spending time on social media and don’t understand all the hoopla over Facebook or Instagram. Unfortunately, social media is a real driving force in today’s world and learning to navigate it is a must for any would-be entrepreneur.
Start small, with a platform that you feel comfortable with. This may be Facebook. Or if you enjoy making videos, you might have more success on YouTube. Learn the best practices to succeed on whatever platform you choose. This may include the best image sizes to make your posts stand out. Or the best times to post a new video. Or finding the online groups that are interested in your business topic. Become involved with the online community you find there and be a regular visitor. Leave comments on other people’s posts. Link your website or blog to the platform. Set aside a few minutes every day to be social online and don’t let your fear of this unknown world hold you back. Remember, this is your life, you create it, and you play your own game.
2. Failure to take action.
You never know how something will succeed unless you take action. Moving forward is the only strategy for success. Having a great idea is not enough. You must put the processes in place to make it happen. Focus on your end result. Make a plan to meet those goals, and then focus on the daily tasks that will get you there. Make it happen. Once you get results, you can go back and start tweaking your process, fine-tuning it to make it better. You won’t know how the market will respond to you until you put something out there.
3. Failure to diversify.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You want a sustainable business model so you need to create options for your customers. Not every opportunity will be a success. Having options will let you ride out failures in some areas.
4. Failure to track results.
What type of return on investment are you looking for? You want to know where your traffic is going, where it is coming from and what the results are. Are people subscribing to your e-mail list? If Facebook gives you good traffic and quality customers, then you want to take those results and start scaling them up. If another social media site turns out to be a dead end, then you don’t need to waste your valuable time there.
5. Failure to follow up.
A customer will not make a decision to purchase on their first exposure to you or your website. Usually, it takes three to five exposures for a potential customer to make a positive response. Follow up emails, phone calls, and newsletters help the customer feel comfortable with you, understand your service or product better, and create the desire for them to commit to a purchase.
6. Trying to do it all.
You don’t need to be an expert web coder, experienced graphic designer, and copywriter all rolled into one in order to succeed as an online entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur’s strength lies in problem-solving. This might mean that you delegate some projects, such as website building, or hire virtual employees for specific tasks like bookkeeping. Virtual assistants (also known as VAs) are more like contractors. You find them on Fiverr.com and Upwork.com, among other freelance sites. You can train them by Skype, video, or phone. Over time, create processes and systems for training and dealing with complications that arise, just like you will for sales and marketing. When you hire someone new, those systems will already be in place to train them.
Why you need to be coachable
My first venture into business was a failure that almost kept me from entrepreneurship altogether. I was impatient. I had the lottery mentality, and I expected big results in little time. When that didn’t happen, I considered the entire venture a failure. Such failures have disillusioned more than one entrepreneur and this one might have been the end of my career too.
Luckily, I found mentors who encouraged me. They taught me to look at a failed business as a learning experience. More importantly, they encouraged me to try again, this time with more patience. I learned to accept the small ups and downs of daily business and look at the bigger picture. In doing this, I saw the slow and steady emergence of my business.
Being coachable means being open-minded and having a willingness to learn and implement new strategies. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. If something has been proven to work, use it. Everyone has their own business style, but until you find yours, a good mentor will help you understand the scope of your business, skip the learning curve, and discover what works for you.
Where can you find a mentor?
Start by looking for authorities and experts in the niche you want to get into. Business experts of all types and in all industries are ready to coach you. Many of these have free tools such as videos online to let you get to know them before paying for their services. Check out their content and see if it resonates with you. If so, reach out to them and ask if they have any products or services that can help you with your goals. Make connections with more than one possible mentor to see which one best fits you. You will need to create a working relationship with this person, so your personalities should mesh.
In some respects, your competition can also be considered a coach. Good competition means a good market exists for your product or service, but you don’t want to copy them. Mirror their business model and use what you feel is a fit for you. If you copy someone verbatim, you may set yourself up for failure because it’s not you; it’s not your business. Be yourself. Be authentic, and fill a hole for what you feel your marketplace needs.
Hold yourself accountable
Can you set aside two to three hours a day to change your life? Once your business is set up and your automated processes are in place, this may be all you need to keep your business going. Starting out is a different matter. Unlike a nine-to-five job, you can’t just leave your new business at the end of the day. You will have to put in the hours to set up websites and social media accounts.
It’s great to be able to make your own schedule, but you must schedule time for all the little tasks that need doing. No boss is going to take you to task if you don’t. You’re the boss now. You are accountable to yourself and to your clients. And in the early stages, when you may have few clients, being accountable only to yourself can mean it’s easy to put things off.
You will need to make sacrifices—both monetary and in time. This might mean sacrificing TV time every night or expensive weekends partying with your friends. You will spend money on start-up costs and may even need to pay virtual assistants before you see a profit.
This is how those 90-percenters fail to see their business into being. They fail to set standards for themselves or to follow through on their best-laid plans.
So, how do you keep yourself accountable? Set a daily schedule. If you need to work four, five or six days a week in the beginning, do it. Make long-term and short-term plans. Then break those down into smaller chunks that you can follow daily. Set your limits for time and money you plan to invest and stick with them. You must treat this like any other job, even if you’re working from home in your pajamas.
The importance of setting goals
Start thinking about the things you want. Your goals are the end-game. They are the targets that you set in your sights and work backwards from to create your business. Be specific when thinking about the things you want. Vague goals have no power to motivate.
What kind of car do you want? What color is it? What year is it? What model? What kind of rims? What color is the interior? Be as specific as possible.
Start thinking about where you want to live. How big is your house? Where is it located? What state and city is it in? How many bedrooms does it have? How big is the kitchen? How many bathrooms? What does the bathroom look like? How big is your closet? Be as specific as possible.
Start thinking about where you want to travel. Do you want to fly coach or first class? What countries do you want to visit? Where do you want to stay? Who are you bringing with you?
For any of these goals or others, create a vision board. Cut out pictures from the internet based on the answers you have given above. Keep the board somewhere visible, so your goal are always in sight.
Is it possible to prevent a business failure?
Most business failure can be prevented with a little forethought and a lot of action. Your business is entirely in your hands. Yes, markets rise and fall, but a solid business should be able to ride out these fluctuations. To prevent failure in your online business, a few things need to happen.
Make a commitment. You talk about how you want to start an online business to your friends and family, but you never follow through or you’re waiting for the right time to start. And you keep waiting and waiting… In this case, you’re not holding yourself accountable and not staying consistent to your promises.
Take action. Making a commitment without a plan of action is as hollow as wishing on a star. But many entrepreneurs either don’t take enough action or don’t take any at all. Your actions need to be aligned with your online business. If you’re new to business, you may be learning a lot of new ideas, technologies and marketing techniques. Now is the time to shift that knowledge into action. Make long term, short term and immediate goals. Then work backwards to create a plan of action to make those goals happen.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Allow others to support you. This might mean asking for help to learn about business trends. Or you might hire someone to manage your social media. You don’t need to be an expert in all things. You only need to be wise enough to know what you need and how to get it. Hire the right people to do the jobs you don’t have the time or skills to complete.
Know your audience. Learn your marketplace. Evaluate your perfect customer. Learn their pains and struggles and how to help them with their problems. Picture the perfect avatar (the image of the customer who can most benefit from your product or service). This is the person you want to help. Remember, selling is about filling a need. Tailor your marketing message towards the demographic that you are attracting and fill their needs.
Ask these pertinent questions to establish a connection to your audience.
• What am I offering?
• Who am I attracting?
• How does this benefit them?
• What are my long term outcomes?
Customer avatars and why they are important to your success
Learn how to sell. This is one element that frightens many people. Take the fear out of it by turning the idea of selling into helping. If you are serving and helping people you are not selling. You’re solving a problem. Assist them through the decision making process. Customers often want to be lead. They might not even know the right questions to ask. By stepping in and guiding, you are fulfilling a need. Customer service is just that: service. Selling is a byproduct of that service.
Good mentors and business associates can help lift you up. If you are the smartest person around it means that you need to find people who are better than you are. Tony Robbins said, “If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.”
Stop comparing yourself to others. Just because you take advice from a mentor or emulate someone you admire, doesn’t mean you need to compare yourself to them. Chances are, if you look deep into any successful person’s past, you will see that they started at the same place you did. We only see the success but not all the hard work that went into it. Stay in your lane and focus on yourself. Protect yourself from becoming overwhelmed by details. Just because someone else has the success you want, doesn’t mean you won’t get there. Use them as motivation instead of a roadblock.
Create a Daily Method of Operation.
It’s essential to creating a successful business. Making your commitment, taking action and delegating tasks are all funneled through your DMO. If you have only two to three hours a day, schedule it out.
Ninety percent of business ideas fail before they even get started. Fear of failure and failure to commit and take action are the main reasons businesses fail. Finding good mentors and being open to coaching is important for success. You will need to make sacrifices in both time and money to get your business started. Be specific when thinking about the things you want. Vague goals have no power to motivate.
It’s Your Turn!
What are some things that you learned from your setbacks and making the necessary adjustments to succeed? I would love to hear them in the comments section below!