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By Dr. Philip Humbert

Top 10 Stumbling Blocks that Limit Business Growth

Never in history have more entrepreneurs launched more new businesses! In America, thousands of businesses open their doors every single day. Unfortunately, over 90% of them also close their doors within two years. Businesses are started with high hopes and glorious dreams.

It is easy to start a business. It is much more difficult to build it, to make it succeed, to avoid the traps and pitfalls and frustrations and enjoy the fruits of success over the years. In working with thousands of entrepreneurs over 25 years, here are the mistakes I see most often. Avoid them!

1. Fear and Confusion. There is either a sense of being overwhelmed by the size of the tasks or a refusal to master the work of being an entrepreneur and business owner. There are specific skills to owning and running a successful business. Learn them! You can master this! (This is often the time to hire a coach.)

2. Lack of Capital. Capital comes in three forms: Time, money and energy. Some people have one or two, but not all three, and they fail because they simply cannot sustain the growth phase of their business.  EVERY business is a commitment of everything you have. You may start “small”, but that does not mean casual or part-time.

3. Lack of Courage or Commitment. Building a business is always risky. Some people perceive the risk as huge, others see it as a fun hobby, but there is risk. Manage it. Limit your potential losses. Understand the risks involved and enjoy the process. You will make mistakes. Learn from them and go on.

4. Refusal to select and target an audience. No one can sell their services to “everyone”—a message that goes to everyone is unlikely to create a sense of urgency in anyone in particular. Attorneys focus on one type of law. Physicians specialize. So should you.

5. Choosing the wrong audience. A market that cannot or will not pay or an audience that is too small or dispersed is a recipe for disaster. The “poor” desperately need medical, dental, legal and other services, but who is going to pay you? The same problem exists when trying to reach an audience that is dispersed over a large geographic area and not easily identified.

6. Fuzzy or unfocused message. What exact benefits do you provide? To whom? Under what circumstances and at what cost? How can people contact you? Be precise, be clear, be specific.

7. Lack of planning – too many random efforts. Many entrepreneurs try a little radio, a direct mailing, join a service organization, offer free samples and then report that they have “tried everything and nothing worked”. Pick one, and stay the course! You become identified with your marketing techniques. Choose a logo, a color-scheme and a marketing technique, and stay with it!

8. Too much advertising, too little relationship building. Advertising works best for tangible products because customers can see the results. Intangible services are very difficult to advertise and are almost always purchased based on the quality of the relationship. The more people know you, and the more they know about you and your caring, your professionalism and your quality, the more business you will do. Build networks of relationships!

9. Laziness and/or Greed. Your business ONLY exists to serve the customer! You must make a profit in order to continue serving the customer, but service is the key to success. Everything must be focused on that. The statement, “I want to be my own boss”, or “I want a business that supports me” may be true (and be totally honest and reasonable), but they are a dangerous focus for your business. Customers first!

10. Having a product or service that fails to produce adequate benefits or fails to serve as promised. Some professionals are incompetent. Some don’t use current technology or are sloppy in their delivery. Particularly with services, even ONE mistake will undermine client confidence, loyalty and trust. Do your best—every time!

Dr. Philip E. Humbert is a psychologist and professional coach. He lives in Eugene, Oregon. Visit his web site for over 200 pages of articles, Top 10 lists, humor, quotes, a free weekly newsletter and more. Click Here.

 

 

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Last Updated 02/17/2004