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There is only one thing more frustrating than pouring your heart and soul into a business, only to see it fail.
Doing it several times.
Launching one venture after another, truly giving it your all, only to ultimately realize that its going nowhere.
Each time this happens, you begin to feel worse and worse about this whole entrepreneurship thing. It seems so far out of reach, and you have no idea what could possibly be going wrong so many times. Why it appears so easy to everyone else, but regardless of how hard you work, you just can’t seem to pull it off.
Maybe, you even start believing that you’ve been lied to, and this is all a huge scam.
I know how this feels, because it’s something I went through myself. It took me years before I began attaining any success at all, and I have had a large number of failures between them.
The fact of the matter is, even if you do everything right, and you have a solid strategy in place, things still may not work out.
Other times, the shortcomings may be caused by your mindset – a lack of motivation, poor time management skills, or unconsciously setting mental hurdles that make your entrepreneurial journey more difficult.
If any of this sounds like it applies to you, read on – this may be one of the most important articles you’ve come across. We’re going to analyze the root causes of business failures in more detail, and develop a plan that will ensure with absolute certainty that you will achieve success with future ventures.
Let’s begin, with the first step.
1. Find A Business Model And Market That’s Proven
Some businesses will never succeed, no matter how well executed your strategy is.
You could be the world’s most knowledgeable person about business, have hundreds of thousands of dollars of capital to work with, and work 18 hour days, day-in and day-out, ultimately to end up with nothing.
Starting a business around something is only a wise decision if the marketplace has determined that there is a demand for the products or services at hand.
Even then, you need to be sure that you’re actually able to fulfill that demand.
This applies to entertainment-based businesses (such as film or music), as well as many of the YouTube channels and personal brands you find online today.
Sometimes, the product you offer is simply entertainment, and you are paid in the form of monetizable attention.
However, the same principals apply. You need to ask yourself…
- Do people care what I have to offer?
- Do they care enough to actually pull out their credit card and buy it?
Businesses are built off of financial transactions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re offering the products themselves, or putting ads in front of your viewers – somewhere down the line, the consumer needs to be paying for something.
Unless you really know what you’re doing, don’t start your business off of some grand ‘idea’ that ‘you just know people will love.’
Even if you have a natural passion for your market, you likely do not have an inherent understanding of what causes these people to buy. You also don’t know that your great idea hasn’t already been tried out, and shut down because the company couldn’t make money with it.
Instead, find something you know is already working for other people. If other people are succeeding with it, then you know it’s possible. Not only is this smart, but it’s also highly motivating. Don’t copy others, but model them and their processes.
Sometimes, being able to see that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel will help you feel that success is on the way!
2. Control The Platform, Control The Process
Next, ensure that you actually retain control over your company, and it’s not based around one external factor that could completely wipe you out on its own.
This means that you shouldn’t build your business solely on an external platform. For example, I highly recommend against:
- Selling on Amazon.
- Releasing books on Kindle.
- Publishing courses on Udemy.
- Building a YouTube channel around maximizing Adsense revenue.
- Niche Instagram pages, to be monetized through sponsorship / influencer marketing deals.
…And so on.
“But wait James, hundreds of thousands of people are building massive companies this way! Some of them have already had a successful exit, and have retired!”
There’s two problems here.
One, most of them don’t. Most people fail, and end up making ultimately no revenue. They rely on the platform to make up for their poor marketing or business skills, and the platform fails them.
Or two, the people do succeed. They start making an impressive amount, and their businesses grow to be very profitable.
Unfortunately, this usually leads to that platform owning that person’s entire life. The platform could shut them down at any moment, without any warning, and completely ruin them in an instant. Even if they play by all the rules. It happens every day, and it’s very scary.
Now look, I’m not inherently against any of the things I’ve just mentioned. They only become an issue when somebody builds their entire business around them, rather than using them as part of a strategy.
I sell on Amazon myself, and even offer a course teaching Kindle publishing. My courses are on Udemy right now.
However, while I appreciate the revenue that these platforms generate, I take steps to ensure that those platforms do not own me, and are not given too much power over my business. My own marketing efforts are almost always channeled towards my own websites, and the marketplaces are used to make new people aware of my brand, and bring new customers into my ecosystem here.
It’s far better to build something slowly that will still be around 10 years from now, than to build something quickly and gamble with losing it forever.
Especially if you succeed.
3. Operate Lean, And Keep Overhead Low
When your track record of successful businesses isn’t particularly good, you’ll want to do everything you can to minimize risk going forward.
This means keeping your costs low – especially recurring costs required to keep your business afloat.
While needing money right away can be a great motivator to take large amounts of action, you should already be doing that anyway. Being forced to chase immediate revenue at all costs however, will put a pressure on you that is both unsustainable, and will also force you to make short-term decisions that may hurt the long-term well being of your business.
At the same time, pursuing the lean startup model ensures you can make adjustments quickly, and without investing too many resources. When something isn’t going to work, you’ll find out right away and can focus more quickly on other projects.
The idea is that you build minimum viable products (or minimum viable projects.) Then, you release these out into the marketplace, testing them out, and using feedback you receive to tweak and improve your offerings.
Again, there is nothing worse than pouring a lot of time, energy and money into something, only to see it fail. It’s far better to have an idea on how your project will turn out early on, so you can take the appropriate action.
4. Ensure There’s Room To Scale
Everything we’ve talked about so far has been about avoiding failure, crumbling to zero. Let’s switch gears for a moment and talk about something different – an upper ceiling.
Depending on the market you’ve chosen to enter into, there may already be a limit on how much you can actually earn, and this limit may be lower than you think.
After all, there are only so many people in the world that are willing to spend money on certain things. Once you’ve reached all of those people, there’s not much more you can do.
This is why restaurant chains like Applebee’s or Subway are billion dollar brands, and your local small restaurant – even if it is always packed with customers, has not made its owners extremely wealthy. There is only so many people that they can reach, and they have not been able to scale that.
In my experience, you should always go for something that has room to scale – a large market, a diverse set of products you can offer, and new people constantly becoming interested in your niche.
These markets may be a bit more competitive, but this is a good sign. It means that other people have come to the same conclusions, and is a way of validating that successful businesses are being built in that area.
5. Build Your Work Around Something You Enjoy
Finally, it’s extremely important to build something in a market you enjoy.
When you’ve failed already, it can seem extremely discouraging – especially if you had high financial hopes for the company.
Even if the market is right and the business model is proven, you’ve got to be able to stick with it long enough to see success.
Chasing dollars is important, and I would never suggest you work hard without expecting a financial reward in return. However, everything is made so much easier when you’re getting something out of what you’re doing, even before the money starts rolling in.
This could be happiness from actually enjoying the work, or it could be inner fulfillment from doing work that aligns with your life purpose.
A few years ago, I took a break from blogging for a while because I had lost a child that I was taking care of, and went through a string of family issues. It hurt me in my life like nothing else had before, and I would never wish that pain upon anybody.
I started a company in the extremely competitive parenting market, caring little about how profitable the company would become. The pain of losing (what felt like) my daughter at the time was so strong, I would do anything to prevent someone else from feeling that. While I couldn’t magically fix those problems in the world, I could do work to help bring families a little closer together – something I was missing dearly.
I worked at that new company, and I worked hard. 18 hour days, all the time. Pure and utter relentlessness on my part. And the company grew.
However, the work ended up becoming less about helping families, and more working behind spreadsheets, negotiating business deals, and other corporate headaches. The purpose and mission was still there, but I had a hard time feeling it.
The company is still doing well, but I returned here because it’s what I genuinely love – it was something I was doing before, when I had the option to do anything. It’s where I truly feel at home.
Additionally, my goal is that by the time I’m able to have children again, I won’t have to go to work and be away from them. Every step I take towards this business and my personal brand, brings me closer to that. It’s extremely rewarding.
I also believe that any advice I share here that you will use to improve your life, you will also pass on to those around you. I want you to lift yourself up, so you can lift up others. I want you to be able to spend more time with your family, just as I hope to do with mine.
I hope that this article has sparked some ideas in you.
While things may take a while to get going with your next venture, I hope you soon discover that you’re on your way to succeeding.
It is better to start off slow and make consistent, steady progress, even if the results do not come quickly. By constantly moving one step closer, you ensure that one day you will get there.
I’d love to hear more about the business you’re going to be working on this year, and how you’re taking steps to build the life you want.
I believe in you.
To your success,
– James McAllister
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