The mechanics of creating and growing a business are not that mysterious. There are plenty of resources out there to help you. In fact, there is so much out there for you to learn from that if your business isn’t working, then the problem is YOU. In the spirit of telling you the truth so that you can turn things around, here are my top ten reasons why business leaders fail.
1. You’re trying to screw over your customers. You think that getting them to pay $100 for a $10 product is doing good business. You’re wrong. They’ll see right through you and your fancy sales tactics. Give them more than they are paying for and they’ll beg you to sell to them.
2. You’re lazy. In the end, successful businesses are all about the hustle (and I don’t mean tricking other people). If you want $10,000 then you’re going to have to put in $100,000 effort. If you want to be good, then put in great effort. If you want to be great, then put in outstanding effort. Accept it and get to work.
3. You aren’t thinking creatively. You love to “think outside the box,” but you really aren’t. You’re in the same old box and you’re just climbing deeper and deeper into it. Get out of your comfort zone and ask the big questions, “If I could do that would it virtually guarantee my success?” Chances are there are a few Hail Mary plays up your sleeve if you just had the guts to try them.
4. You haven’t failed enough. The biggest hurdle to overcome on your way to great success is to have a little success. Think in terms of a season and not each game. Just because you won last week doesn’t mean that you will this week, so you need to keep switching things up. Sometimes you’ll lose. Good. Learn from your mistakes, but never stop making your services and your people better.
5. You’re doing too much. John Donne once said, “No man is an island,” and believe me, no one with their own private island tried to do everything himself. Leadership is about influencing others toward a common vision. Delegate your work, trust the people around you, and share the rewards. Ask for help. Set the goal and then get other’s to work towards it.
6. You’ve got too much of an ego. You’d rather be a 20 pound fish in a 5 pound lake than a 100 pound fish in a 200 pound lake. So what if you’re not the biggest? So what if they’re are people out there better than you? Focus on your own results and stop worrying about what everyone else is getting.
7. Your product and your market don’t match. If you’re in the luxury market, then your products better be luxurious. If you’re in the common market then your products better solve everyday problems. Don’t over complicate things. Don’t try to cheat the system. The house always wins. Test your prices and figure out what you’re worth (not what you wish you were worth).
8. You don’t have a business plan. Is it better to be smart or to be lucky? In business, it’s better to be smart. You can’t plan for luck and you can’t make your payroll with luck. Don’t play dice with other people’s lives or your own. Think through all the angles, write them down and make a plan. Then stick to it.
9. You’re too clever. You know how most people go about running their company, but you’re a lone wolf and you’re going to change the world!! Sorry to burst you’re bubble, but don’t try to out think the market. Trying to create a new market with your first business is like saying that you’re retirement plan is to win the lottery. Learn the mechanics of your business and your industry and perfect them.
10. You’re delusional. I’m a big believer in positive thinking (see When Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work), but sometimes the market just doesn’t support your product and you don’t know it (you would if you did #8). Should you give up and focus on something else or are you on the verge of a huge success? I’m not saying that I know the difference. I’m saying that if you’re in that business then you better.
Again, there is absolutely no excuse for ignorance. There is too much information and too many people out there right now dying to help you with your business (feel free to send me an email – consults are 100% free). If you aren’t succeeding then there is something wrong and more importantly there is something that YOU can do about it
About the author: Chris Cowan is an executive coach and an expert in adult and organizational learning. He is currently working as a consultant with the Federal government. He has previously worked for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Leadership Development and the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Previous consulting clients include, Fannie Mae, Samsung USA, the United States Air Force, and Microsoft. He has written or co-authored 13 articles on adult learning and is a certified action learning coach and training evaluator. Chris received his Masters from Harvard in 2005 and is currently writing his dissertation on transformational leadership at the George Washington University. He currently drives a 2008 Dodge Viper. Feel free to contact him with questions at Chrcowan@gmail.com.