I want to share something important with you today. It’s a heartbreaking email I received last year, from a reader.
He was a small business owner, who had to cease trading after 5 years in business, because of 2 critical errors he had made. As well as showing you the errors, I’m going to show you how to make sure this never happens to you.
The following excerpts are quoted, with the author’s consent, though they have asked me not to use their name. Here’s a section of the email, quoted unedited:
“Me and my wife quit our regular jobs in 2007 to start a business. We were excited and worked like crazy to make it a success. By mid 2011 we knew we were in trouble as our life savings were almost gone and the business was still making too little money to cover our overheads. We’d been dipping into our savings from the get go to make up the short fall from the business. By February this year we knew we had to quit the business and get jobs. Last week the business was closed for the last time”
He went on…
“Looking back I see we made two major errors that I’d like to share with your readers to stop them doing the same. First up, I was trying so hard to keep our costs down that I didn’t invest in the help we needed. I wanted our savings to last as long as they could so we hardly spent anything and ended up starving the business of the professional help that would have saved us. Second up, we were waiting for some big sudden sign to show we were screwing up but it didn’t happen like that at all. We didn’t go broke over night. It was a slow process which looking back had been happening for years. That’s what stopped us taking urgent action years ago.”
Failure doesn’t happen overnight
One of the reasons so many intelligent, hard working business owners fail, is that failure doesn’t happen overnight. It’s extremely subtle. It creeps up on you. It’s seldom the result of one cataclysmic decision, but usually the result of small errors, repeated often.
Here are just a few examples:
- When you push your marketing at people, it hurts your business a little.
- When you think you’re saving money by doing it yourself, rather than hiring an accountant, a marketing professional, a web designer etc, it hurts your business a little.
- When you copy the social networking approach of your peers, making yourself almost invisible, it hurts your business a little.
- When you can name the judges on the top reality TV shows, but you don’t know who the key people in your marketplace are, it hurts your business a little.
- When you allow an amateur looking website / blog to make you look bad, it hurts your business a little.
Success doesn’t happen overnight
Like failure, success doesn’t happen overnight either. People want overnight success, which is why there are so many bullshit books, webinars and seminars that promise it. In reality, we know that business success takes time. It’s subtle. It’s seldom the result of one smart decision, but usually lots of smart decisions repeated often, over time.
Here are just a few examples:
- When you learn how to attract the attention of your marketplace, so you never have to push your marketing at people, your business gets a little stronger.
- When you decide to get the expert help you need, rather than try and succeed in the worst economy in living memory without it, your business gets a little stronger.
- When you stop using social networking sites like a sheep and start building a highly visible presence, your business gets a little stronger.
- When you take time to learn about the people who make up your marketplace, so you can help them overcome problems and embrace opportunities, your business gets a little stronger.
- When you invest in a professional looking website or blog, which reinforces the promises you make in your marketing, your business gets a little stronger.
The link between failure and short term thinking
If you want a business to succeed in the medium and long term, you need to avoid making decisions based on the short term.
Short term thinking means you see money going out of the business as a bad thing, so you avoid it. People thinking short term are fearful of making an investment, even an essential investment as mentioned in the email earlier, because they see little difference between a business cost and a business investment. In reality, the 2 couldn’t be more different.
Keeping costs down is a great idea, but starving a business of essential investment, is like starving a plant of sunshine!
Short term thinking also leads us to look for short term answers. That’s why every scammy, bullshit filled webinar, ebook, software product and seminar – promises fast results or secret formulas to get rich quick. We have to be smarter than that.
In short: Business success requires a long term perspective. If you are not seeing the results you need, now is the time to take action.