I’m always amused by the extreme measures that an entrepreneur is willing to make or to take when they start to feel like they’re failing. Suddenly all of the boundaries and norms just go right out the window. All the budgets and constraints go right out the window and an entrepreneur is really willing to do almost anything when they feel like their business is failing.
Why that’s amusing is because usually two to three months prior to that awareness the entrepreneur is not willing to do those things because they assume that their business is not failing even though the elements that eventually cause the business to fail have long been in place, which means that the entrepreneurs who fail usually are asleep at the wheel for quite some time.
So when your business starts to fail, there’s usually been a period where you were asleep at the wheel. What I’d like to do is point out, if you’re sleeping at the wheel, some things that might wake you up.
Here are three of the most common signs your business might be failing without you knowing it:
Warning Sign #1: Employee Performance and Metrics
One is if you’ve hired people and they’re not quite producing the results that you want, but you have no specific agreement about how to measure their results or no specific metrics.
Let’s say you’ve hired a marketing manager. You’ve told the marketing manager to take care of your website and your social media and your email list, and they’re doing those things, but it doesn’t feel right to you. You don’t love his or her style and the results don’t seem to be good, but you don’t have any metrics to speak about with this person, so you start to dive into ambiguous issues. Perhaps it’s, I don’t like this kind of a post or I don’t like this kind of design on the website or This page doesn’t look the way I want it to look.
If you’ve hired people that are not really producing the results you want, but you have no specific metrics, that’s the first sign.
Warning Sign #2: The Customer as an Obstacle
The second sign is that you’ve noticed you’ve started to believe that your customers are obstacles. This is the point at which you or anyone else in the company starts to refer to customers like they’re ignorant, like they’re incapable, or like they’re incompetent.
It’s common sometimes in a company for you to hear the customer service representative speaking about a customer in a derogatory manner. There are even popular viral PDFs describing some of the silliest things customers have said to customer service representatives.
If you’ve got that language going on in your company, then you’ve started to fail because the absolutely most important asset that you must maintain in order to continue to succeed as an entrepreneur is a belief and a love for your customers.
Warning Sign #3: Marketing Mismanagement
The third sign that your business is probably failing, whether or not you know it, is that you start to rely on concealing information, hiding facts, or stretching the truth in your marketing and sales. When you have a sense that the truth isn’t good enough, you kind of fill in the gaps or stretch this or exaggerate that. And you probably hope that customers don’t find out the truth about your product or your competitor’s product.
If that’s a part of your sales or marketing reality, then your business has started to fail. You may not know it yet because your need to conceal the truth will prevent you from taking the important actions to close that gap—and the gap will just get larger and larger. You’ll have more and more concealed information, hidden facts, or stretched truths until the customer can see right through it and won’t buy anymore.
What to Do About these Symptoms
If you’ve got these symptoms, there are some things you’ve probably mishandled or reacted poorly to early on. Taking a step back before these problems arose, there was most likely some confusion about how to execute initiatives, particularly growth initiatives.
Next week, I’m going to guide you through the specific steps to take to keep your business in a healthy place in order to prevent failure. Se be sure to come back and check out that vital post next week.
If you can’t wait until next week and you want an honest assessment of your business right now, then just put your name and email in the orange box in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll receive a customized rapid growth plan in the next 19 minutes.