What To Do When Your Small Business is Failing
We Mustn’t Panic – But it is time to get real
Starting and running your own business is exciting. It’s also really, really hard. So what do you do when it’s not going so well?
Don’t Jump Too Soon
If you are on the cusp of starting up, then my best and most honest advice is do NOT give up your existing income generating job until your new business can replace the dosh. I’m sorry if that sounds defeatist. But being skint SUCKS.
I don’t care what your overpriced business coach, dressed head to toe in borrowed Chanel, tells you about going all in, not having a plan B or giving it everything. Being unable to pay your bills creates fear, desperation and encourages you to make bad and unethical decisions. You have to go all in and give it everything whilst still earning money to eat. That is actually the very definition of giving it everything. You don’t work ‘as hard’ when you have your own business, you work much, much harder.
Being brave is not a magical formula for being successful on its own. It is simply one component. Don’t be stupidly brave. Be strategically brave.
If you are already working your new business but the sales just aren’t coming, then we need to take a good hard look at why and bloody well do something about it before it’s too late.
Investing and Spending are not Equal
Investing a bit to start up a new business is essential. Spending money to make everything look amazing straight away is not.
Honestly, no one cares if you spent three weeks creating a mood board for your brand before you lobbed $12k to a designer to create your vision and corporate identity that you will share with the cat. Get over yourself.
Minimal viable product – get something up fast and start testing your market. You’ll change everything again in six months anyway, so stop spending money on tweaking fonts. Stop hiding behind the excuse of ‘getting ready to launch’. Launch already. You cannot spend your way to success.
And you do not need a $10K coaching program either. That’s just another way to hide. Meet up with another group of business owners and support each other instead. It’s invaluable and priceless.
Get Your Head Out of the Sand
One of the huge benefits of being a small (or even micro) business is the ability to be flexible. We do not need to consult a board of directors, group of shareholders or probably even business partners. We take the decisions (good and bad). The responsibility and privilege is ours alone.
So why do so many small business owners stubbornly stick to their guns and keep doing the same thing when things aren’t going so well and the sales aren’t coming in? Is it pride? Fear of change? Or self sabotage? Is it easier to do the same thing and simply decry that people do not want to buy? Perhaps it’s all of it.
You cannot afford that luxury. Wake up.
Sales & Marketing Audit
If you are feeling a little bit in this place, and before you throw in the towel, let’s just do a bit of a sales & marketing audit and see if you are really taking the right steps to get sales into your business.
Let’s start with the absolute basics and go back to (old) school – the four Ps of marketing mix. Product, Price, Promotion and Place. I’ll also add one more… Patience.
Do people want what you are selling? It’s not that hard actually. If you have an audience and there are some things that seem to sell but not others, well that’s live fire market research. Take the hint. Tweak it, try again and if it still doesn’t work move on.
Is the price right? Are you asking too much? Not enough (more common than you think)? Are you giving too much away so that there is no reason to buy? If you happily giving away free content but feel a bit sick whenever you ask for money? Well duh. You can’t pay bills with likes and followers. Be generous but have boundaries.
Also, it’s usually easier and more cost effective to sell one high priced product/service than it is many, many low cost products. People are suspicious of cheap – it has no value. Know your value.
Have you found where your audience are hanging out? There’s no point in developing a beautiful aesthetic strategy on instagram if most of your audience is busy hanging out on LinkedIn. Post your dog photos on instagram and go and learn about LinkedIn instead.
Don’t waste your time trying to engage people in the USA if you actually need customers in Birmingham, UK. Focus on a small network first and own it. Then grow.
Build it and they will come is NOT a business strategy. Just because you have a lovely website – do not assume that’s the end. It’s merely the beginning. And boy do I know this. This is what I do for a living.
You personally and digitally need to get it in front of people and ask for sales – do not assume they will queue up to buy if you do not convey the benefits (not the features, yawn) of what you are offering. What problem do you solve? Be clear and irresistible.
Have you given it enough time or planned enough time to make it work? Rome wasn’t built in a day my friend and neither is a new business. You need patience and a plan to manage your money until you are making more of it. But you also need a deadline at which point you will draw a line to make a change if it isn’t working.
If You Change Nothing, Nothing Changes
Someone very wise said, if your business isn’t making money then it’s a hobby. A harsh truth but a truth bomb nonetheless.
So what do you do if you are in this scenario? The sales aren’t coming but you don’t want to get a full time McJob?
Pivot – change something and try again
Look where the money is already coming from. What utilises your skills, education, values and zone of genius. What are you you already known for doing? What do you offer to a potential customer/client?
Is there some product that you are selling or service that you are offering that people are already buying – perhaps it is something that you are doing on the side while you build up your new business? Well, my friend… that might BE your new business.
So, I want you to take a few weeks and focus on the area that is already bringing in some dosh. Like really, really focus on how you might find another client – and then take inspired action. And by the way, sitting on your butt willing the universe to bring you divine wealth is not inspired action – do the things that make customers buy from you! And if it works, do it again. And again.
It might not be what you thought you would be doing, but it will start to bring in an income and you may just find that you love it. When you receive financial validation for your efforts, then it’s amazing how you will fall in love with what you do.
There is no magic formula – it’s step by step and hard work. You win at business one customer at a time, but only if you are offering what they want.
You Are Not Alone
If you are feeling stuck, desparate or just a bit confused because your business isn’t exactly going the way you hoped, then get in touch. My Power Hours are perfect for this – consider it a tough love session by skype. We’ll get to the bottom of what’s going right and wrong and start making plans to turn things around.