Welcome back to our breakdown of the profit-killingest, motivation-destroyingest, dream-crushingest causes of online business failure. If you haven’t, read Part I of our top 10 list before continuing here. If you have, get ready: these last 5 are the ultimate doozies, the things that shatter more would-be successes than anything else. I’ve seen them all done. I’ve done a few myself. By being aware of them, you can choose not to.
- Lack of Fundamentals
Yes, entrepreneurs come from all kinds of educational backgrounds, including little formal education at all. However, trying to run a business without the basic skills necessary is a fool’s errand. No one is born with the fundamental knowledge and abilities that are prerequisite to success. At some point, you’ve got to learn what you’re doing.
Salesmanship, marketing, content production, SEO, scheduling, budgeting…the list goes on. No, you don’t have to learn them all at once. No, it doesn’t require formal business training. Yes, you can learn much of it as you go along— but learn it you must, and sooner rather than later. Good business is the result of a skill set, not just the inevitable outcome of a great product idea. It takes a leader, and one who knows what they’re doing.
- Lack of a Business Plan
That is to say, a specific, written proposal as to how you plan to profit. This plan doesn’t need to include all the details— a page will suffice— and it can be subject to change based on realities in the field. But there has to be a well-thought out mission based on a plausible approach. It has to include who you intend to serve, and how you can serve them in ways others can’t. It has to include a path to viability and profitability. And it has to be brought out from inside your head into the real world.
Download our website’s super-easy one-page business plan template at 100mba.net/guides. It’s free, it’s simple, and it can show you how to think about your overall goals and long-term strategy. Without that context, you’re steering blind into whatever happens. Instead, aim true for what you want to happen.
- Lack of Personal Visibility
It’s the 21st century. Consumers today don’t shop blindly. They want to know where their products come from, how they’re made, and what else their money is supporting. More importantly, they want to know from whom the products come. They want to know you. Not letting them suggests you have something to hide.
It’s a reality of modern business in a hyper-connected, socially engaged marketplace. If you’re not comfortable being transparent and open, get out of the game now. It’s crucial to not only cultivate your brand, but to stand in front of it as a living, breathing person. Your marketing depends on your ability to be a relatable human capable of earning customer trust. Get comfortable on camera. Study public speaking. Learn how to express yourself. Whatever happens, don’t be shy.
- Doing it All On Your Own
A common misconception is that independence means being free from the input of others. In business especially, nothing could be farther from the truth. Being independent doesn’t mean being free from the support of (or even obligations to) other people in the industry. It simply means you get to engage on your own terms.
You can’t know everything, or have all the skills. If you’re a great content writer, you’re probably not also a tech expert and marketing whiz. It’s important to take advantage of the skills of others, to network and cultivate relationships that will strengthen your business. It doesn’t have to mean hiring actual employees; it could simply mean attending Masterminds or generally learning from your peers. But no one does business in a vacuum.
We all need a community, and we should all contribute to one. The only alternative is to get overwhelmed, frustrated, and burnt out from carrying too heavy a load.
This is it. The single worst poison that can infect the mind of an entrepreneur. Nothing destroys motivation, builds frustration, or takes the joy out of independent business like yoking your idea of success to other people’s performance. And without the joy, no one can sustain the effort it takes to succeed.
Your business can only ever be your business. Your goals can only ever be set by you. Comparing stats with other businesses will tell you absolutely nothing useful, even if it’s your direct competition. That’s because in independent business, you’re not trying to beat the competition. You’re trying to solve people’s problems in a unique way that only you can deliver. You’re trying to create a scenario where ultimately, there is no competition.
You’re seeking your own niche market, your own approach, your own goals and sub-goals. No one else is running in this race. You will never be able to achieve someone else’s personal best any more than they can achieve yours. Be the best at what you do. That’s you, and you alone.
Take this list and keep it in mind as you move forward with your business goals. Be aware of these 10 pitfalls, and know that we’re all susceptible to them. Invert them; make each potential killer a reversed reflection of your approach. Commit fully. Plan ahead. Take consistent action. Use social media only with specific marketing intent. Have the sense to learn the skills you need, and the courage to ask others for help. Be visible and real. Be yourself, and stay true to the vision that you create.
Do all of this, and your business can be one of the ones that makes it.