Updated: Apr 13
When you're struggling to make your business as successful as you thought it would be, it can feel like you're failing. Quite often, people who feel like this aren't honest about how they are feeling with those closest to them. We live in a fake world, with shiny Instagram posts proclaiming overnight successes and seven-figure wins on a daily basis. If you aren't in that place, you can start to feel like you're drowning.
The question you need to ask yourself is, am I truly failing? If you haven't hit your quarterly goal, a few times, that isn't a failure. If you consistently aren't managing to hit your goals, that might be a failure. If your business is slower to start than you thought it would be, that isn't failure. If you're not getting any work or selling any products at all within the first year, that might be failure.
It's important that you understand the difference between real failure and just a blip in how things are going. Don't compare yourself to everyone else, especially to all those businesses claiming to be doing so well. Trust me, everyone goes through tough times, but people only portray the wins.
One of the things you need to have right from the start is a sturdy support network. This might not be your family, because unless they are business savvy, they might not understand what you're going through or what you are talking about when you explain things like failing to hit targets. Instead, try to find a support network that you feel you can be honest with when things are going South and you really need some advice.
A good place to start is online communities. Facebook has lots of supportive business communities and as you're more or less faceless when interacting, it can feel easier to be honest with people in that community. Check out these groups:
If you feel as though you are failing, but haven't hit a critical point of no return, it might be worth investing in a business coach. I know, the last thing you want to do when you're struggling to make ends meet, is to invest more money, but a business coach can steer you on the right path and could be the difference between your business surviving or closing down completely. Not only that, but business coaches often offer inner circles and masterclasses, a place you can meet other business owners on a more intimate level, a place you can be more honest about your struggles. Check out these amazing business coaches:
If you aren't getting as many sales as you anticipated, ask yourself if you're doing enough. Are you:
Writing regular blog posts (a great SEO booster)
Posting consistently on social media
Sending out E-newsletters
Sending out traditional leaflets
Prospecting on Linkedin and by email
Making Linkedin connections
Advertising in local publications and on social media
It's a lot, right? But cutting above the noise so that your voice is heard takes a lot of hard work. Is your website on point? Does it lead your potential customers on a journey? Does it have any lead magnets? Does it have a consistent call to action?
If you feel as though you don't have enough time for all of that, invest in a Virtual Assistant to do it for you. Yes, yes, I know. Investing when your scraping the barrel of the piggy bank might seem like a silly idea, but it's make or break time, and again, it could be the difference between real success and actual failure. At L.T VA Services we offer a pay-as-you-go service and our lowest support plan is just five hours per month at £145, affordable for even the most stretched businesses.
If your business is doing ok but you aren't hitting the financial goals you anticipated, stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Go back to your cash flow forecast and realign those figures to something more achievable so that when the next quarter comes, you start to either hit your goals or get close to hitting them. Only you created that forecast in the first place and you might have created it by pulling figures out of thin air. The good news is if you made it you can break it, so look at your forecast and change those figures.
Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, it's important to have a plan, even more so to have an exit strategy, for example, I would love to be able to get my business to a saleable price of as close to a million as possible in the next five years. If I aim for that, I'll work at the level I need to, to achieve it. If I only aim for £250,000, that's probably all I'm going to get. What you have to do is create goals you can move.
Whatever happens, start being honest about your failures. Stop burying your head in the sand and smiling at people as you proudly lie to them about how good things are. Find those communities, make those investments, slow down your pace and expectations and most of all, be kind to yourself.