A business can fail for many reasons.
Some are very complex, like getting sued, an economic meltdown, unethical behavior, or being hounded by a patent troll.
Other reasons are surprisingly simple. Don’t let these blindside you.
1. You’re not building an actual business.
Entrepreneurship is like magic: it looks like you’re creating something out of nothing, but there are true techniques to making it happen.
I’ve met many startup founders who aren’t using those techniques, and they’re not building an actual business. For example, the vast majority of startups need to make money. Instagram was an exception. So unless you’re building the next Instagram, then think about how your idea is going to make money.
Making money is just the first part of creating a real business.
A real business has core components that many entrepreneurs overlook, especially on their first startup. Some components are complex, while others are simple. Still, startup founders might overlook them which might lead to their startups crumbling uneccessarily under the pressure of the market.
Here are some components of a real business for you to check off: repeatable processes written out, standards for customer service, a business bank account, contracts, financial documents, accounting solutions, tax guidance, and a legal structure.
Many startups don’t need these in order to start up, but these are things to put into place sooner than later.
2. You’re preaching more than teaching, and teaching more than doing.
There’s a huge push right now for businesses to “create content.”
That push has led many people to begin creating content that teaches people how to do things, including how to become an entrepreneur. This has led to more and more unqualified voices to be heard.
This is especially true for people looking to build personal brands.
Preaching about what we don’t know will get us into trouble. I try to avoid speaking above my pay grade, and I want to encourage you to avoid it too.
Instead, let’s focus more on doing what we’re teaching. That’s the quickest way to the legitimacy we’re reaching for.
3. You’re just not putting in the work.
I’m writing this coming off of the holiday season, which is a time for family and relaxation.
But I’m salty.
During the week between Christmas and New Years Eve, I lined up a bunch of meetings with other top entrepreneurs in my city. One of those meetings was at one of the most popular coworking spaces in downtown. When I walked in, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
There was nobody there.
I wasn’t coming in after normal business hours, on the weekend, or on Christmas Day. This was a normal weekday at a normal meeting time. And the space was almost completely empty.
We’ve got to put in the work if we expect anything to work for us.
Admittedly, I might have this thing wrong. I totally understand that different people have different work styles. And maybe I’m modeling after my dad, whose only holiday tradition has been to work his face off in the mornings and celebrate with family in the evening.
But the fact that we need to truly put in the work extends far beyond the holidays. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of having our cake and eating it too. I’ve done it in the past, and I’m sure I’ll do it again in the future.
Personally, I’d rather have my ventures fail for any other reason than a lack of hard work.
Thankfully, that type of failure is preventable.
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Photo: Flickr/Tim Simpson