It happens to every entrepreneur at least once.
Business is a fickle thing. First, an idea is hatched. A passion is ignited that leads one to take action toward monetizing their vision. The first few weeks are fueled with excitement as we apply for loans, hunt for retail space and get that first high-limit credit card in the mail.
Everything seems to be going just as you planned.
Fast forward six months, and that hot and heavy business love fest has fizzled up. The credit card is maxed out, the interest is building on your loans and your “gotta have it” retail space appears to be killing you in utility fees.
Could failure be inevitable?
At this point, our brain shifts into survival mode. We can’t stop thinking about the amount of debt we’ve incurred, and the echoes of the naysayers seem to be playing on a loop.
As we think back to the past decisions we made, we start to unearth these massive mistakes and regrets. Why did I get such a large space? Why did I buy so much inventory before I researched the customer demand? Why did I max out that card on high-end decorative furnishings for my waiting area?
The answer to all of your questions is rather simple. It won’t make everything better, but it will explain why you are in this seemingly unfathomable mess.
You are here because you never made these same mistakes in the past in which to learn from.
The truth is, every great entrepreneur has sat right in that same chair, nestled against the bosom of regret and potential failure.
Trust me…you’re not alone!
But before you decide to throw in the towel, I want to take this time and reveal the five most common lies we tell ourselves when our business starts to fail.
- “Nobody is spending in this economy.”
I’ll acknowledge that some shoppers have seriously restricted their spending in an effort to safeguard their savings, but there are also those who are still spending money on products or services that offer solutions to their problems.
It’s your job, and the focus of your marketing efforts, to present your business as that solution.
- “If I only had some extra money, I’d be able to get the word out about my business!”
False. In today’s world of LIKES, tweets, +1’s, podcasts, emails, text messages, YouTube, collaborations and community networking events, you have ample opportunities to market your business at little to no cost. The only thing it will cost you is time and a ton of energy!
You’ll have to make the time to get out there and introduce yourself to those potential customers and repeat patrons. There’s no excuse for sitting comfortably behind your register waiting for the door to open. “If you build it, they will come” only applies to baseball fields.
Being the best kept secret in town will always be a bad thing.
- “Location. Location. Location! If I could move, I’d be doing better.”
Nope. Circa 1950-ish, when the only thing keeping businesses afloat was their physical visibility from streets and corner traffic lights, I’d be willing to throw you a bone here. But today, there are incredible businesses thriving in some of the most obscure locations. What they’ve been able to do, is play on their perceived weakness in an effort to promote their offerings as exclusive, coveted and a “must see!”
In fact, I recently read an article in a popular business magazine that highlighted the success of a bar that was absolutely killing it. It wasn’t because of their awesome wine selection, it wasn’t due to their high-end food menu and it was definitely not a result of their high visibility location. This bar was actually insanely hard to find! The only way to enter its doors was to walk through a separate business, enter an old phone booth in the back room, and lift the handset to request entrance. And only then would the booth open up your way into this intentionally secretive hot spot.
Once the word started to spread, this bar not only became the hardest bar to find, but it quickly became the hardest bar to miss!
- “I have no idea why my customers seem to only buy once and never come back again.”
For this reason, it is crazy important for you to garner the contact information from each and every customer who spends money with you. By having access to their email, phone number and mailing address, you’ll have the ability to extend the conversation outside of the store. Enhance your return visits by continually marketing to them reference your new products, sales, service enhancements, birthdays, anniversaries or any other special event you think deserves acknowledging.
By providing their contact information, they have given you permission to send them marketing messages. You’re not doing anything illegal. And if you feel that you are “bothering them,” well…you’re just going to have to get over that. Ease your mind by not over-doing it, track your responses and zero in on the best mix of media and sending frequency.
Marketing is the life-blood of your business!
- “I’m just not the business type.”
True. You may suck at the logistical part of building a business, but you are also very creative!
Your strengths lie in having the ability to think outside the box, and continually come up with ideas for new products and services. That’s why it is important that you find someone to join you in this venture. Someone who has an analytical mind, and is effective at maintaining a budget, tracking inventory and managing pay roll. You can’t be great at everything.
Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs all had to supplement their weaknesses with people who could take on these tasks, allowing them the time to focus on their strengths. When we are forced to work on something that makes us miserable, we quickly begin to resent it and put forth less than our best.
Real success always presents itself when we work in-line with our naturally given abilities and strengths.
Before we close out this post, I want you to do me a favor. Prior to you slapping that “out of business” sign on your front door, take a few days to document all of the nasty thoughts that are creeping into your head. Write them down in a notebook verbatim as they appear in your thoughts.
Next, after a day or so has passed, I want you to look back and determine if they are still relevant. If so, ask yourself if there’s a possible solution. Because problem that seemed so dire 48 hours ago, may not appear as complicated today.
And then, take a deep breath, and never be afraid to ask for help. Remember…
You can’t do this alone.
P.S. If you need help, let me know. ~Andy Sokolovich
815-441-2219 or [email protected]
photo credit: zilverbat. via photopin cc