5 Reasons You're Struggling in Your Business and How to Fix It
Are you struggling in your business? If so, don't worry - you're not alone. Many entrepreneurs and coaches fail within the first two years of business. In this blog post, we will discuss four of the most common reasons and how to fix them.
By taking the courageous first steps of wanting to create a business you immediately activate two of the most primal responses: fear & survival. It's your business so whether it succeeds or fails is all on you. That's a pretty hefty weight to carry but when you look around on social media it seems that everyone and their mother have started their own business. Surely if they could do it, you can too.
And you can. There is no reason why you can't create a successful business. The fact that you're reading this post already proves you're intelligent! 😉
If all that was required in creating a successful business was hope and a desire to make an impact on the world, there would be too many millionaires to count. Creating a successful business takes more than a good heart. It requires taking action and continuing when things get uncomfortable.
Maybe you're good at getting started but find yourself stuck and unsure what to do when things seem a little too far out of your control. Or maybe when funds start to get tight you research until you find the best program that is going to help you develop the strategy that is going to get you money fast. Or if you've been at this awhile, you may feel like giving up and trying something else. This is your stress response in action!
I'm sure you've heard of fight or flight but there are 5 stress responses and they all show up in business, ESPECIALLY when you're creating your own business. The stress response gets activated whenever there is uncertainty. And there's a whole lot of uncertainty during the first couple years of building a business.
The fear of failure (or success) creeps in and haunts many small business owners. They don't realize that the actions they are taking are based in fear and are basically trauma or stress responses. The 5 main reasons that I have seen over and over again that cause businesses (not just coaching businesses) to fail within the first 2 years are rooted in fear.
Reasons businesses fail
The reason businesses fail is because all functional areas of business are not being developed: operations, marketing/sales, management, finance, research & development. Why don't business owners work on all the areas? It all comes down to fear and survival responses.
Reason #1: Too much time spent on Research & Development
The most common reason I've seen that causes coaching businesses to fail is because they spend too much time on Research & Development (consuming information to help them be the best coaches they can) and not enough time in the other areas of business.
Don't get me wrong, it's essential to spend time in R & D but not at the cost of growing and developing the other areas of your business. If you find yourself spending hours researching and taking course after course on development (whether for your clients or your own development) but still unsure about which part of your business to focus on next, then you're probably stuck in a fear/stress loop.
A fear/stress loop is when you have some thought based on fear (fear of failure, fear of success, fear of disappointing people, etc.) and this stresses you out and your fear increases. One way to alleviate some of the stress felt and possibly reduce your fear is to enroll in a new course, sign up for a program, binge watch YouTube videos about a certain topic, or purchase several books (don't ask me how many books I've bought and haven't read in the past) . So you embark on a new journey of personal or professional development with the hopes that this time you'll learn the thing that is going to magically help you feel confident and certain in the path you've chosen.
You assure yourself that this is the best thing to do because logically you can justify anything. You feel like you're taking action in your business and that feels good. It feels less stressful. But unless that information you're collecting doesn't actually end with you taking action to work on the activities that actually bring in business (aka marketing & sales), then you're not growing your business.
Reason #2: Underpricing
When your prices are not set at the right level you will inevitably feel overworked and underpaid. That's just a fact.
Overtime, this creates resentment in your business but even much more importantly, you chip away at your self worth. When you are not paid what you are worth you can't help but feel your self worth plummet.
Feeling valued is essential to our well-being. When we don't feel valued, it impacts everything in our lives including our health and relationships. Feeling valued is a basic human need. When we feel valued we feel secure. We aren't subconsciously worrying about getting kicked out of the tribe or being abandoned.
When you are not making as much money as you would like or working a lot of hours for very little pay, you don't feel valuable. It's hard not to feel discouraged and start wondering if you can keep it up. You know that working your butt off for little money is not sustainable. Your relationships suffer. Your mental health suffers. And on top of that, it can be really tough to stay motivated to get things done when your business feels like it's a money pit.
Your worth and value come from within you. They come from your relationship with yourself. No matter what is happening in your business, you are still worthy and valuable. And it is so important to remember that!
Reason #3: Messaging
Marketing messages are the foundation of all businesses. You must be able to communicate the value of your offers in a way that makes your ideal clients eager to give you their money so you can help them.
Much like spending too much time in research and development, most people have a messaging problem because they have not truly connected to the value they provide. They are unsure of their worth or they unsure of the value of their offer or both.
Marketing requires a level of vulnerability when you are a coach selling your expertise as a service. As a coach, people aren't exchanging their money for a product, they are exchanging their time and money to work with you. And more often than not, you are selling the hope that you can help someone overcome the obstacles in their way. In order to show them that you can help them, you must connect emotionally. Emotions create the intent or interest to purchase, logic only provides the "permission" to go through with the purchase.
Fear of being seen and rejected keeps many, many coaches playing small. But when you learn how to connect with your ideal clients by sharing your journey, speaking to their pain, and showing them that you can help, they will enthusiastically hand over their money.
So before you go and change your offer (once again), take the time to get your messaging on point. There isn't a problem with your offer because what you offer is valuable (and often times priceless). If you don't have enough sales then there's a problem with your messaging.
Reason #4: "Icandoitbymyselfitis" syndrome
Yes, it's true when you start a business on your own, you're on your own. But that doesn't mean you have to do everything by yourself. I have noticed that people that are very proud of their independence feel like they must prove that they can do everything by themselves.
Maybe they were given attention and praised when they figured out how to do things on their own. Maybe their parents rewarded them for spending time alone. Honestly, there are billions of reasons that can cause someone to wear their independence like a badge of honor.
But in business, it's not a good strategy.
I guarantee that you have amazing talents and gifts. But I also guarantee that you have things you struggle with. We are not built to be amazing at all things at all times.
In the corporate world, people have teams around them where everyone has their specialty (or two or three) that they focus on. They come together, brainstorm, create action plans, and then the tasks get delegated to the appropriate people.
As a solo entrepreneur, you don't have an executive team to rely on. So you buckle down and force yourself to do the things that you aren't very good at (or maybe even downright hate). The only other two options are to give up (aka fail within the first 2 years of business) or hire someone else to help.
But if you are constantly needing to prove that you are capable of doing everything, if you feel like only you can do things right, then you're going to struggle. You will need help. We all do. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
Reason #5: Cashflow inconsistencies
In the beginning there isn't any money coming in so most entrepreneurs focus on getting their first sales (rightfully so). Ideally, they relatively quickly put out an offer and depending on their initial sphere of influence, they get sales.
But this is when the cashflow problems start.
They're scrambling to deliver what they offered and neglect the marketing and sales areas of business. Then their programs end and they're stuck with no money and no new prospects.
If they're able to, they're setting up systems as they go so they can attract and support the next inflow of clients easily.
But not everyone is great at setting up systems. Not everyone has a tech background. Some people find tech intimidating, especially people pleasers that worry about everything being done perfectly. And sometimes, tech mishaps can derail even the most seasoned developer (oh, the tears I've shed because things haven't worked right).
Luckily for me, I have a huge toolbox and years of experience to rely on to help me out of frustrating tech failures. Also, I can create nearly anything when it comes to an online business. Need a new course that comes with a physical product? Sure, not a problem. Want to create a sophisticated automation to track user experience while they go through the course to improve course completion and increase referral rates? Easy.
Systems are the key to consistent cashflow. Well, more specifically, systems tailored to the way you work are the key to consistent cashflow.
We all get energized and lit up by different activities. Some people love creating new content and throwing together courses and they don't mind creating all of the new marketing materials to get those courses sold. Others like to work 1:1 and would much rather spend their time perfecting an automated sales funnel that doesn't require them spending much time on social media. Or what about the people that love running challenges, drumming up excitement about their program, and then bringing in a group of people to take through their framework at the same time.
All of these are great ways to create a successful business but they all require different kinds of talents and energy levels. They also all require developing systems so that there is predictable income.
How to fix the 5 common reasons businesses fail
Fix #1: Get clear on your Big Vision
It is REALLY hard to go somewhere when you don't know where you're going. Sounds obvious, right? You could wander around aimlessly and by chance get to where you wanted but it's so much easier if you get a map.
You might get lucky and come across the perfect strategy that helps you develop your business in exactly the way you want but that's not very realistic. When you're on your way building a business, it's much more effective if you develop a plan of action that takes you in the direction of where you want to go.
Most coaching and business programs show you effective strategies that those business owners used to create THEIR business. But is their life as it is exactly aligned with your vision of your future? What about how they got there?
Defining the keystones of your business and getting clear on your vision for your life, will bring you motivation when things get rough. Being a business owner is one of the hardest things but it's also one of the most satisfying things... especially if you love personal development. You either grow and evolve or struggle and quit. There aren't many other options in the entrepreneurial game.
Fix #2: Develop Radical Self Partnership
Self Partnership is the term I use for the process I outlined in my book "Get Unstuckable" and I work with all of my clients to develop self partnership skills. Self partnership is about using proven techniques that are based in neuroscience to rewire your thought processes so that you experience less overwhelm and more self love and compassion.
Radical self partnership is when you fully commit to creating a life you love. After you're committed, you need to identify the emotions you're experiencing, figure out what you really want to feel instead, and create new neural pathways of thoughts that are no longer based in fear but come from your authentic true nature (this is easier to do once you have defined them along with your big vision).
When you are excited to get up and start your day, grounded in the body felt belief that you are impacting the world with your gifts, and have created a plan of action, then it's nearly impossible to be scared of failing. Failing is no longer viewed as failing. You will make mistakes but your mistakes become little mini experiments to learn and grow. When you release your fears around your business, you'll find yourself eager to tackle the projects that you've been putting off.
When using the Unstuckable Method, I've seen first hand how people that have avoided facing their finances, getting on social media, or recording video feel ready to handle it all. These changes don't always happen overnight but they happen as long as you show up and commit to creating a life you love.
The entire process creates a deep knowing and believing in your worth. You become so confident in your ability to help transform people's lives that you can't wait to create the marketing materials that will let people know about your offers. You can't wait to create the systems that will help you support your clients.
That is the power of self partnership and knowing your worth. As a business owner, it is the #1 thing you can do to prevent failure and truly succeed.
Fix #3: Focus on your messaging
You can have the best program or course in the world but if no one knows how it really is going to help them, no one is going to buy it.
Unlike other industries, defining coaching offers can be challenging. If you're a transformational coach (meaning you help people through a big transformation such as improving their relationship, get healthy, build a business, etc) like most of my clients then unless you've been in business awhile, you probably don't have an easily defined offer.
Everyone knows they should take better care of themselves, focus on improving their relationships, and take action in their business. But why should they work with you specifically?
If you can't tell someone in less than 2 minutes exactly how you help them, you have a messaging problem.
You need to be clear on what you're offering, why people should buy it, and how their life will be better. If your messaging isn't clear, people will be confused about what you do and why they should work with you.
If you aren't bringing in cold leads and converting them into sales then you have a messaging problem. If you aren't focusing on nailing down your marketing messages then you're business is going to struggle until you do.
When you're first starting out, it can be difficult to know exactly what you should offer your clients. You might feel like you need to offer everything under the sun in order to attract people's attention. But that's not the case at all! It's much more effective to focus on a couple of things and do them really well than to try to be all things to all people.
When you're clear on your messaging, it becomes much easier to focus on what's important and attract the right clients who are a good fit for what you offer.
Fix #4: Get a team
Creating a team comes with it's own set of challenges and if you don't have experience hiring qualified people and managing other people, creating a support staff can be a very daunting task. Which is why so many solo entrepreneurs feel like they need to do everything themselves.
But, if you want to scale your business and create more time for the things you love to do, then creating a team is a must.
When you have a team in place, you can delegate tasks that someone else can do just as well or better than you. This frees up your time so that you can focus on the things that only you can do or that help bring in the most money and that will move your business forward.
It will require that you develop some project management skills, especially if you're hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) rather than an agency. If you're lucky, you'll find someone that is great at their job but most of the time you're going to find people that are getting started and still figuring things out. So expect a bit of trial and error and frustration until you find the right fit.
I also want to mention that I have yet to meet a successful coach that hasn't hired other coaches. Don't get me wrong, not all coaches are great but it's a whole heck of a lot easier to build a business when you have someone to talk to. Specifically someone that can help you achieve your goals. Even if all you get is a sounding board to bounce ideas off of, having someone around to get those thoughts out of your head and into action is invaluable.
Fix #5: Create Systems
Personally I don't believe that everyone should have to set up their tech and systems. While learning new tech, developing systems, and creating automations comes easily to me, there are other things that I struggle with. I've also been working on my tech skills for over 20 years so I would hope it's easy for me!
I choose to spend time in my zone of genius or excellence because that's what keeps me excited to show up for my business, for my clients, and for myself. If I spend too much time doing things that are in my zone of competence or incompetence I get frustrated easily. Resentment towards my business and clients builds up. And even worse, I snap at my kids and argue with my friends and family (and I have been known to snap at a stranger or two when I'm completely stressed out). When I get help I'm a much more grounded, productive entrepreneur, and definitely a better mom and overall person.
If setting up systems is not easy for you or you dread doing it, it doesn't really mean anything other than that you haven't developed the skills or because troubleshooting technology doesn't feel fun to you. Yes, you can develop the skills but if you really do not like doing it, why would you want to spend so much of your precious time doing it? To save money? At what cost? Less time with your loved ones. Less time in nature. Less time doing the things that you know fuel your soul.
Don't want to wake up 2 years from now still struggling and regretting not getting help sooner.
What should you focus on?
I wish there was a cut and dry answer but there isn't. If you have yet to get clear on your big vision and your values start there. Then take a realistic look at what you're good at and what you aren't and then figure out which area of business you can tackle first (hint: you probably don't need to focus on more research and development, you probably need to focus on marketing).
If you're interested in working with a trauma-informed coach that will meet with you weekly to help you strategize, work through the roadblocks that come up, and develop and create your systems (website, sales funnels, and automations) for you so that you can focus on supporting your clients and doing the activities that bring in business, then I'm inviting you to apply to work with me in my "Utterly Unstuckable" program.