25 Reasons Why Your Business Has Lost Its Momentum
Your business is going to hit some snags. No one who has built a business will tell you that success is a smooth, effortless glide to the top– and neither will I. There will be moments when you wish you had a boss to shift blame onto, or rely on to hoist everything back on track… but what fun is that?
You know you’re starting to lose momentum, and this checklist will help you figure out which are the weak links in your process. When you’re frustrated and want to just throw your hands up and scream, go ahead and do it. Get it all out. But then assess where the holes in your raft are. I’ll help you plug them.
1. You can’t say no.
We don’t like to hear it, and we don’t like to say it– especially to the people whose business, expertise, or support we depend on. Guess what? It’s part of the entrepreneur, leadership role package. Maybe you didn’t notice it in the fine print when you had a business idea and signed up to be an ambitious go-getter, but it was definitely there. And no matter what your fears are, no one is going to hate you for having the strength to say it. In fact, they’re going to respect you. If a client is always asking to reschedule, it gets to a point where you need to say no. That’s not impatient, it says that you value your time and have important things to do with it.
2. You worry about what people think
This is such a tough one, because who is actually immune to the judgments, comments, praise, or shady side-eye glances of others? Even celebrities admit that all of that white noise gets to them! The point is to not indulge the voices or seek them out. Don’t invite the opinions of those people that you don’t respect or who may try to purposely hurt you. Even when working with consultants, take every nugget of advice with a grain of salt because ultimately, it’s your opinion that matters most. It’s all a distraction from progress, so worry more about your goals than what people will say when you achieve them.
3. You are too wrapped up in the work
You set your own hours, but do you always know when to call it quits for the day? When I feel like I’m not getting enough done, my automatic instinct is well, okay, I just need to work until I get a lot done. That plan works fine until… I’m too exhausted to continue, my family and social life suffers, I get resentful of the work and lose interest, etc. I truly believe it is better to limit your hours and spend all of that time working diligently than blocking off weeks at a time for strictly work purposes and spending half of them on Buzzfeed or dusting your keyboard.
4. You need it to be perfect
Your name is going on it, so you want to take pride in the finished product. Understandable. Commendable, also. But running yourself ragged to make something absolutely perfect may be a waste of resources and energy. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to do at least one thing really, really well– better than your competitors– and consistently. It’s this simple truth that birthed the industrial revolution! Machines could produce quality items much quicker and cheaper than master craftsmen slaving over one item for weeks and weeks, only to sell at a much higher markup. To make money, you need to produce often and, ideally, for a growing client base.
5. You say yes too many times to your customers
The customer is always right, but are they right to be so demanding? You need them, and you hope that they need you and whatever you’re peddling… but you are a business and not their personal magic genie. Even still, genies only grant three wishes so I hear. Nurture your customer base, but don’t be entirely at their beck and call to the point where it’s taking time away from your work.
6. You don’t know how to delegate
Your business is your baby. I know how hard it is to put your trust in a babysitter the first couple times, but gosh does it feel good to go to dinner sans diaper bag! You need to let go. You’re the boss and the brains, so stop wasting your time on the little things! Take on some help, even if it’s just part-time or intern-based. Let someone else answer the phone and respond to emails. You can’t push ahead if you’re too busy just trying to stay afloat.
7. You have your hands and thoughts in every little action
If you’re intent on doing everything yourself, and find yourself worried and anxious when you finally do let someone else take over… chances are, you haven’t delegated to the right person. You need to hire a staff that you trust, or at least one person whom you feel truly grasps your intentions for the business. It’s a process, just like dating, but it pays off.
8. You answer every email
It amazes me how many random companies and people make their way into my inbox. From persistent sales reps to people pretending not to be selling something (EVERYONE is selling something!) I just don’t have time to read through everything, let alone respond. For people you actually want to hear from, try giving them a keyword or phrase to put in the subject line. For example, when I give my email address out to someone I would like to interview, I tell them to make the subject line say PODCAST INTERVIEW and their name so that it immediately jumps out and can be found with a quick inbox search.
9. You are easily distractible
We immediately want to blame iPhones and cute puppy videos on Facebook for getting distracted, but getting distracted is much broader than social media. Making yourself too available to social invites or new business ideas can slow you down even more than constantly updating your Twitter. Write out a mission statement for your business and put in words what you actually hope to accomplish. I know an entrepreneur that wanted to start a website, and before it was even really off the ground, was already setting meetings to go into TV and radio. Don’t let shiny offers lead you astray before you’ve even finished your first project. Commit to your business and your original intentions with an iron-clad focus.
10. You don’t work on what you need to focus on
There’s always something to be done, business related and otherwise. Some of these tasks will of course be quicker and easier than others, which is usually an indicator that they’re also less important. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! And then stick to that list! Think of it this way: a giant boulder takes more effort to push down a hill, but it will have more momentum than casting a bunch of tiny stones down the same hill. We want momentum! Real, quality momentum.
11. You continuously want more from everyone else
Here is some hard truth: expecting too much from people will lead to disappointment. You can absolutely want others to help and support you, but it is so unbelievably rare to find people who will want to work as hard as you for the things you want. Be reasonable in your expectations of others. Putting stock in the unwavering commitment of others is a bad investment.
12. You jump on the new bandwagon
Trends are tricky. If you’re the one setting them, it’s like striking gold. Joining in once a fad has already begun makes me a little nervous. Here’s why: I like things to be time-tested and proven. I prefer to read about other people’s risks paying off, or not, than to see my own name in the headline. I have worked hard for what I have. As Bruce Springsteen sings in “Because the Night,”
What I got, I have earned. What I’m not, baby I have learned.
Jumping on the bandwagon of some new idea or business venture is a gamble. Chances are, the person who started the trend is the one who will cash in. Be hesitant of over-glorified options that seem to poof! out of nowhere. Let someone else discover the inevitable pitfalls. It’s better to be inspired by new trends and build off of them to better your company than to follow someone else’s lead completely.
13. You watch TV
Everyone does. But not everyone runs a business. If your momentum is dipping, ask yourself if you’re keeping up with the Kardashians more than you’re keeping up with your business. I love a good binge-watch, but find I’m much more productive when I limit myself to one episode a day. It comes down to time ladies! Be choosy.
14. You eat like hell
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but that doesn’t include apple fritters or Apple Jax. I’ll even go out on a limb here and say we should think twice about our coffee choices. All of the little ‘quick-fix, I’ll just go to a drive-thru’ meals take a toll. You don’t need a PhD to research what foods promote energy and brain health. I was so pleasantly surprised to find I could replace my triple-shot macchiato with a chia seed kombucha (and save myself $2) without compromising on my necessary morning energy boost. The littlest switches can make the biggest difference in your energy and work performance.
15. You don’t sleep enough
I am a truly frightening person when I don’t get enough sleep. Of course, even “enough” sleep (8 hours) never really feels like enough. The health consequences for sleep deprivation are even worse than my crankiness, and much more serious. Your memory, concentration, appearance, and personality all suffer when you burn the candle at both ends and sleep for only a few hours a night. It’s a lot harder now to shrug off an all-nighter than it was in college.
16. You only work
Just ask Jack Torrance. If you haven’t seen The Shining, spoiler alert: all work and no play does not work out for him or anyone within a half mile radius. Your work should be your passion, not your life sentence. You work so hard so that you can have a beautiful life to enjoy when you leave the office. Spending too much time doing only work evaporates any sense of urgency. Knowing that you have a fun activity planned for 7pm makes you fired up to get sh*t done so that you can make it there on time. You need diversity in your schedule.
17. Your workspace is lacking
Your workspace is crucial for productivity and feeling good while getting stuff done. It should be your absolute sanctuary… somewhere you don’t dread going to, with a vibe that matches your personality and business. I know an executive in the publishing business who spends most of his day reading and thus has a loft office that resembles a library. Because of this, he takes all of his meetings to a restaurant two blocks away instead of having people drop in and out, disturbing the serenity of the place. There is a feature in this month’s Marie Claire (with Nicki Minaj on the cover) that showcases hot new jewelry designer Kendra Scott’s recent office remodeling. It is a stunning dream office with a mani pedi salon included, but what I found most interesting is that her desk is in the shape of a precious gem. Her workspace not only nurtures her employees and makes them feel welcome and cared for, but the design is geared to inspire and provoke new business ideas. Total #goals .
18. Anxiety is getting in the way
A common complaint I hear nowadays is social anxiety slowing people down. Networking events and meeting with investors don’t go so well when you were up all night in a cold sweat over presenting yourself and your business to established, intimidating new people. Some people have anxiety about traveling by plane for work, or even sending emails. There’s no judgment here, but you have to let your determination to succeed overpower your anxieties. Come up with a mantra to repeat to yourself about how powerful you are, how you trust in yourself, and will not be defeated by the hypotheticals swirling in your psyche. Put a lavender oil diffuser in your workspace and breathe deeply.
19. You’re not marketing
A business needs customers, and customers have to hear about the business to know it even exists. I know that you probably don’t have money to throw around, but advertisingis crucial. Even social media is a pay-to-play game. If you really believe in your business, it will be worth it to make a marketing budget to get your website seen. Of the millions of people out there, someone will want to hear what you have to say. They just might not be able to find you yet. There are some guerrilla marketing strategies that don’t cost anything… like researching online forums and communities that would be interested in your business. On the other end, there are large, professional marketing firms that will do it all for you…for a price. You just need to make sure you’re being seen.
20. You don’t say thank you
With so much big business competition, you want to make sure your customers and employees feel a difference when choosing the little guy (you). Back in the day, I worked as a hostess for a small, locally owned restaurant that opened at the same time as a major chain located directly across the river. My boss insisted that I memorize our customer’s names, preferred seating areas, and thanked them profusely for stopping in, even if they were just looking around. I still remember our customers’ appreciation for these little differences that we implemented. People want to feel valued. Many want to know that their money is going to a deserving entity… or at least a kind one.
21. You don’t have a set goal
Your business has to have a trajectory in mind. Where are you going with this? What do you hope to accomplish short term and long term? You need to be clear on what you’re working toward, or it is guaranteed that your progress will decline. Breaking your goals into benchmarks can help give your overall dream some plausibility. This week work on crawling. Next month work on walking. By six months figure out how to run, and then work on flying.
22. You’re not managing your money
Most businesses fail within the first five years. They have either lost their seed money, the excitement-fueled drive of owning a new company, or both. It is definitely discouraging to see your business bank account dwindle, but that is not the time to panic. That is when you need to work your hardest and innovate. There may be times when you, as owner, will not be able to take a paycheck. Owning a business is not always glamorous. Extra cash should be thought of as a way to boost your company further, otherwise you’ll be in the red with a lot of red-bottomed heels and no business to wear them to.
23. You’re ignoring the victories
The biggest way for a business to lose momentum is for its team to feel like they’re just spinning their wheels. Why work hard for a business that is seemingly going nowhere? I’ve done it, and trust me, even the paycheck stops being worth it after awhile. No one wants to feel like they’re wasting their time. To avoid this, point out the progress and achievements that you and your team have made to boost morale. Even if you have to start really small at first and look realllly closely, there are good things that have happened and victories that should be celebrated. Give yourself and your employees a pat on the back; it will go a long way.
24. You’re not innovating
Business is hard in a capitalist society. There will always be competition springing up with new ideas to steal your spotlight. You will steal the spotlight, and you will need to fight to remain in it. That means keeping up with recent innovations and always being willing to learn. You might’ve been the best at what you do 5 years ago, but it will never hurt to brush up on your skills– from managing to learning the new Photoshop or Microsoft Office programs. Read everything you can! Attend talks with industry leaders. Never stop learning!
25. You don’t have the right support
Even if you run a one-woman operation, no one can truly go it alone. Emotionally, you need the support of your family and friends to keep you sane and remind you that yes, you can do it! You need the right financial backing, from people who won’t hold it over your head or legitimate banks that (hopefully) have a decent interest rate. And you also need good employee support, from people who believe in your business and not just your hourly rate.
Are you shaking your head?? That's a lot to digest right?
Where to begin?
Okay, it's not so bad. I promise you. A few tweaks here, a few tweaks there and you're back in business. You back with opportunity and momentum on your side.
I promise you.
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