Many of us are accidental entrepreneurs.
From listening to hundreds of business owners over the last three decades, it seems most of us got started in business because of a either a love for an industry, product, or service or we had a bad boss and decided we would be better off if we set out on our own. Perhaps your situation was a combination of the two. A smaller subset of business owners received the business from a parent that founded it.
And there’s the problem. None of those launch motivations have anything to do with running a business, especially not a successful one, and that’s the only way to run a business long term. Anyone can run a business into the ground – that’s nothing to write home about. And most of us do. Run it into the ground, that is. Some bounce back, but sadly, most business owners do not.
After thorough research, I have concluded that almost every article I have found about small business failure rate is either wrong or incomplete. I’ll publish my research on this on another format as it has a lot of statistics, math and facts. In other words, all but the most ardent fans of figures might find it boring. But I will tell you that I feel very confident saying that 90.3% of small businesses fail within the first 42 months of opening their doors and a large chunk throw in the towel at 24 months.
I have started several business ventures in my career and have chatted with literally thousands of other business owners. I can tell you with no hesitation, not a single one of those business owners began with the idea of closing their doors within 42 months. It’s safe to say, for those who failed, things didn’t go according to plan. So the question that we should all be asking is:
“Why do so many fail?”
My experience has taught me It is because of one simple assumption, a common mistake overlooked and run all the way out to the end of the fiscal leash to which it is tethered. Like the dog in the old Foghorn Leghorn cartoon chasing the big chicken out to the end of his leash with the predictable “YANK” at the end that sweeps the dog right off of his feet leaving him in a pile of canine on the ground.
Here’s the answer: because loving a product, loving customers, having passion for serving or even having a horrible boss that doesn’t appreciate you do NOT teach you how to run a successful business! In this world of self-help gurus telling you to follow your passion (and they’ll show you the secret to success for $499), they are hiding the fundamental truth that successful business owners already know.
There is no shortcut to success.
It’s hard work and a lot of it is not that sexy.
(Now is when many will stop reading because they wanted a shortcut!)
The #1 blind spot that most entrepreneurs have is that they don’t see and understand the fundamental work that has to be done in Operations, Finance(Money Management), Management Plan and add to that developing actual Marketing Systems, Sales Processes and Fulfillment Plans. The alluring falsehood so many people want to hear is that if you have the right product, customers will find you. The “If you build it, they will come” fallacy. And that is not much of a plan at all.
So maybe you are sitting there as a business owner thinking, “Hey, he just sort of described me.” So what should you do now?
Here’s the GOOD NEWS!
It’s not too late!
You can begin to learn how to get a perspective on the six distinct outer gears of your business and the most important one – the 7th GEAR. That is you in the center of it all as the entrepreneur. Nothing works in your business if you don’t, so when I’m coaching someone, always start there.
To expand a bit further on the blind spot, the sad fact is that most entrepreneurs don’t understand how to run a business. They understand the products and services they offer – often better than anyone, but they do not know how to systemize their business to make sure customers are served the same way–every time! Many business owners don’t really understand the “Finance” part of the business – that’s because banks and accountants speak a different language about money than business owners–and they shouldn’t!
When it comes to “Operations” and “Management” many business owners think that since they don’t have many employees or they are small, these concepts don’t apply to them. And they’d be wrong – it’s even more important for small business owners to have a process in place for all 6 areas of their business.
Everyone needs a coach! You can’t be expected to know it all, especially if you don’t have years of experience in all areas of business. Even if you don’t reach out to us at 7th Gear for help with your business, I encourage you to consider finding a business coach elsewhere to help you work ON your business so you don’t get lost IN your business.
Make sure you worth with someone who has built successful businesses themselves so they can speak to you with real experience. Many self-proclaimed consultants are simply unemployed mid-level managers looking to make ends meet. Make sure you find someone who understands your unique situation and you feel you can relate to, who listens to your needs, and speaks in simple, understandable terms.
Be wary of anyone promising shortcuts. There are none.
All the greats had a coach.