12 Signs You're Business is Going to Fail (Part I)
1. You treat your website like a business.
Your website is not a business. The products and services you sell are your business. It's easy to lose sight of this fact and keep working, working, working on our websites in an effort to feel like we're working hard and staying busy. I'm guilty of procrastinating by playing around with my headers, changing up my pictures or rearranging where content is located. The truth is- I've already invested the time and money in a great template that I know is going to look beautiful. Now, all I have to do is provide high quality content in a way that's easy to find. That's it. I don't have the task of entertaining you with dancing .GIFs or a new instagram feed plug-in or anything else- my task is simple, and when we complicate things by working on our website constantly, we set ourselves up for failure.
2. You're not being disruptive.
You're following the same instagram feeds as everyone else, writing about the same topics as your peers, with a website that looks like theirs but doesn't feel like it's your style... WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? Is this what you thinks it takes to be successful? No, in order to be successful, you need to be disruptive- to your audience, to your industry, to your peers and to your niche. If you look, sound and feel like everyone else, you'll never be successful. For example, Katelyn James was one of the first people I know about in this industry to focus on her clients' experience. Successful business. Chris Guillebeau was one of the first people to expose how he's been a successful travel hacker. Successful business. Lara Casey was one of the first women to start a conference specifically for creative entrepreneurs. Successful. And a wedding magazine focused on Southern weddings. Double Successful. Are we seeing a pattern here?
3. You goals but you don't have expectations or stretch goals.
When you don't have any expectations, you don't have any way to tell if you've found failure or success. Expectations are kind of like bare minimum goals- they're what you expect to accomplish by engaging in activity X or activities X-Z. Stretch goals are usually what most people's goals are- they are just a little bit more far-fetched than we think is reasonable to accomplish, but not impossible. Stretch goals are important because they make you take a look at your expectations and goals, and see if those two things are realistic, while still giving you something BIG to strive for.
Example 1: I expect to make at least $3000 this month to comfortably cover my monthly costs of living (happy to say I'm on target to meet this goal four days in). My goal is to sell at least 20 seats to my online course launching this month. My stretch goal is to sell 30 seats.
Example 2: I expect to write at least one blog post and one newsletter every week. My goal is to get reader feedback, comments and emails that let me know if the post was well-received, or if it was not. My stretch goal is to convert some of those readers who resonated into mentoring clients.
4. You don't have a role model or mentor.
You need at least one role model or mentor but no more than three. Obviously a mentor who you pay and has a vested interest in your success is ideal but not always practical, especially if funds are low, so I'll focus on finding your role models here.
Role models are people that may not even know you exist, but who teach you what you feel like will propel your business forward. I say you need at least one, that's obvious, but what about the limit of three? If you follow too many people, you're going to get conflicting information. I think three is the best number.
For your first role model, find someone who does almost exactly what you do but is a little more advanced. This doesn't necessarily have to be someone you consider to be a 'competitor.' This could just be someone who you admire and aspire to be like (for example, if you're a hand lettering artist, you may aspire to Sarah Klein's success with Chalk Full of Love.) Follow role model 1 very closely and see what she does. Get the role model checklist by clicking the photo above, and go through it at least once a month with your first role model- if not your second and third too.
For your second role model, follow someone BIG. The Amy Porterfields and Marie Forleos of the world. Their advice and guidance will be extremely topical and lighthearted and you won't be paying so much attention to what they're doing. They're more of a subtle influence than your first role model but also provide you with practical information.
For your third role model, find someone who does something similar to you and who has "made it." I don't mean in the same industry though- if you're a wedding photographer, you're a service-based (rather than product-based) business. Follow another service-based entrepreneur, like a calligrapher that's doing well or even a social media marketer that's doing well. The point of this third role model is to find someone who has what you want, and figure out how to emulate their success. My favorite third role models** are Emily Ley, Lara Casey, Reina Pomeroy and Krista Jones.
**Q: "Why are there four here? I thought you said no more than three?" A: Your role models change as you change as a business owner and your business evolves. These are examples of business owners that are your third role models, but not necessarily at the same time.
5. You tag photos as #communityovercompetition, but you don't believe it.
This is one I'm still learning to live every day. While my niche isn't a crowded space at the moment, it's bound to fill up. It's hard when people think all attorneys are the same just because they're attorneys. Like wedding photographers, or calligraphers, or web designers, attorneys come in all skill levels and specialties. When some other attorney responds to posts on Facebook before I do, or sells contract templates for less than mine sell for, it's hard to lose those customers. But at the same time, I need to remember how different their brand and personality is from mine, and how while we are 'competitors,' we're really not because people are going to buy from them for a different reason they buy from me. Being first or last isn't going to make a difference if I stick to my brand and my own marketing strategy, and provide my clients with the best level of service and skill possible.
Likewise, you need to figure out how you can stand out from others in your niche. Maybe it's by hand writing cards to other vendors in your area or inviting them to lunch. Maybe it's by giving your wedding photography clients a framed photo at the end of their reception. Maybe it's by surprising your clients with their order two weeks early. Whatever it is that is going to make you stand out, own it and run with it. This will free you up to collaborate with your so-called 'competition,' and get rid of that nagging desire to shoot paintballs at their house (what? it washes off in the rain- I'm not a monster in my fantasies!)