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Obstacles to Achieving Success in Your Business

To achieve your ultimate goals, to join the 5% of businesses that achieve their goals in business and beyond, you must focus on building a real business and be aware of a few of the barriers that can set you up for failure.

There are two often contradicting approaches to building business.

The most common approach, the Idea/Opportunity approach, takes no training, no lead-time and requires minimal cost. If you are an opportunity seeker (a term coined by Rich Schefren), you may leap in and try to take advantage of an idea ahead of the curve, hoping to catch the wave as it hits the market. Often this approach is about the product or service itself, not the need it may/may not fill in the marketplace. I’ve seen this with many software companies and restaurants. Just look at all the iPhone apps these days. Or look at how short-lived most restaurants are (measured in months not years).

This is a hit-or-miss approach because the market window can be very short or even fizzle before you get to market. And while you’re focused on creating your offering for that niche, another better opportunity can come along. If you’re always looking for the brass ring, you’ll always be tempted by the next “new shiny object” and not finish what you start. This is the trap most entrepreneurs succumb to, leading them down a path that ends in failure.

There’s another approach to starting and building your business. It’s a more disciplined and strategic approach that addresses a problem and provides a solution. If you are a strategist like me, you start with your end goal and your vision of what you are building toward.

Across the board, the most successful entrepreneurs take the time to be thoughtful upfront and prepare options, offerings, alternative approaches, competitive research, market opportunity and team requirements to achieve their goals, short-term, long-term and exit goals. They do their homework; they research and plan first.

They take the time to continually and consistently ask the question:

“What are the best opportunities to achieve my vision of
where I want to take my business and what it will become
?”

They know they must continually “sharpen the saw,” as Stephen Covey tells us, and raise the bar all the time.

So the primary obstacles to achieving your business success are not in your experience, education, expertise, funding or financing.

Your primary obstacles to the business success you desire and the outcome you want to achieve are the mindset and skill set you bring to the game.

Which raises the question …

QUESTION: If the strategy for ensuring a successful exit strategy is that simple and clear,  why do only 5% of all businesses get it done?

ANSWER: The other 95% know what to do. They know they should do it. However, they don’t follow through. They lack the mindset and skill set of a CEO who truly wants to build a wealth-producing business.

Which one are you?

Time Is Running Out

I love entrepreneurs. I’m addicted to entrepreneurship. But the days of building a business from scratch with just a prototype widget, without a plan or a proven concept that delivers results for clients, are behind us.

Your clients don’t care what you are selling. They want to buy the results that your product or service WILL (not CAN) deliver.

The burden is on you. Your business must look like a business and act like a business that should be taken seriously. Because you are indeed competing for customers and clients with the big names in your industry. If you don’t think you have competition, you are in denial.

If you don’t have a strategic business plan and if you resist systematizing your business, the big guys won’t just eat your lunch, they’ll eat you for lunch.

In my experience working for dozens of high-tech startups for 10 years on the technical side, I saw this repeatedly. I had numerous clients who developed brilliant, clever and innovative products, but didn’t build the business itself in parallel. These companies did not survive. Just months after first product launch, they were sold or bought out by direct competitors.

You want to build a business that works so well, where you have such a full menu of product and service offerings to serve your niche, that your enterprise empire itself discourages competition. That same approach will also increase the value of your business, positioning you for an exit on your terms.

Intellectually, this is a straightforward solution documented from many angles in numerous best-selling books.

So if this is what it takes to catapult your business to the next level, and join the 5% of all businesses that thrive and grow to achieve their goals; why don’t more CEOs build their enterprise empire to outperform their competition? Why do they murder their businesses instead?

95% of all CEOs murder their business because
they hold fast to three fundamental flaws
and succumb to three underlying defects
(or oversights) in their business.

Time In Business and Beyond

As Rich Schefren says:

Big business always ‘beats up’ and steals the lunch money of the small independent operators.
And if you know anything about business or have witnessed the birth or growth of an industry you have already seen the pattern play out
time and time again.”

When you know the value of your time, when you know your worth in the market, it changes how you think about time. It changes how you think about free time, family time, vacation time, and beyond.

  • Do you know what your time is worth?
  • Do you know what your time needs to be worth to achieve your income goals?

These two are starting points. You need these two answers before you can make effective decisions about what activities you should spend your time on and what activities to delegate, outsource and automate.

It also takes discipline, learning new habits, and teaching those around you to value and respect your time. If you don’t value your time, no one else will. Therefore, your time management and concentration on your most valuable activities – or lack of either one – may be the reasons your business is not generating the desired income or growing.  Yet you still might be working harder and longer than you want, with no end in sight.

This should be a wakeup call to use your time more wisely: eliminate switch-tasking, stop multi-tasking and hone in on what you do best. Your most important skills add value to the business every minute you are working. You must discipline yourself to focus on your most valuable activities, schedule everything you do, and delegate everything else. This will continually increase the worth of your time and add value to the business, enabling you to achieve your ultimate goal – cash out on your terms on your timeline.

Prevention IS Better Than Cure

To grow a valuable business – one you can sell – you need to set up your company so that it is no longer reliant on you. This can be easier said than done, especially when, like a PR consultant or plumber, what you are selling is your expertise.

To scale up a knowledge-based business, you first have to figure out how to impart your knowledge to your employees, so that they can deliver the goods. However it can be difficult to condense years of school and on-the-job learning into a few weeks of employee training. The more specialized your knowledge, the harder it is to hand off work to juniors.

The key to scaling up a service business can often be found by offering the service that prevents customers from having to call you in the first place. You have to shift from selling the cure to selling the prevention.

Fixing what is broken is typically a hard task to teach; however, preventing things from breaking in the first place can be easier to train others to do.

For example, it takes years for a dentist to acquire the education and experience to successfully complete a root canal, but it’s relatively easy to train a hygienist to perform a regularly scheduled cleaning.

It’s almost effortless for a real estate manager to hire someone to clean the eaves trough once a month, but repairing the flooded basement caused by the clogged gutters can be quite complex.

For a master car mechanic, overhauling an engine that has seized up takes years of training, but preventing the problem by regularly changing a customer’s oil is something a high school student can be taught to do.

For an IT services company, restoring a customer’s network after a virus has invaded often takes the know-how of the boss, but preventing the virus by installing and monitoring the latest software patches is something a junior can easily be trained to do.

When you’re selling your expertise, it can be tough to hire a team to do the work for you. As ironic as it sounds, sometimes the key to getting out of doing the work is to offer a preventive service, which not only maintains your business income, but also eliminates the need for someone to call you in the first place.

Obstacles to Achieving the Ultimate Success of Your Business

To achieve your ultimate goals, to join the 5% of businesses that get to cash out on their terms and on their timeline, you must focus on building a real business and be aware of a few of the barriers that can set you up for failure.

There are two often contradicting approaches to building business.

The most common approach, the Idea/Opportunity approach, takes no training, no lead-time and requires minimal cost. If you are an opportunity seeker (a term coined by Rich Schefren), you may leap in and try to take advantage of an idea ahead of the curve, hoping to catch the wave as it hits the market. Often this approach is about the product or service itself, not the need it may/may not fill in the marketplace. I’ve seen this with many software companies and restaurants. Just look at all the iPhone apps these days. Or look at how short-lived most restaurants are (measured in months not years).

This is a hit-or-miss approach because the market window can be very short or even fizzle before you get to market. And while you’re focused on creating your offering for that niche, another better opportunity can come along. If you’re always looking for the brass ring, you’ll always be tempted by the next “new shiny object” and not finish what you start. This is the trap most entrepreneurs succumb to, leading them down a path that ends in failure.

There’s another approach to starting and building your business. It’s a more disciplined and Strategic Approach that addresses a problem and provides a solution. If you are a strategist like me, you start with your end goal and your vision of what you are building toward.

Across the board, the most successful entrepreneurs take the time to be thoughtful upfront and prepare options, offerings, alternative approaches, competitive research, market opportunity and team requirements to achieve their goals. They do their homework; they research and plan first.

They take the time to continually and consistently ask the question:

“What are the best opportunities to achieve my vision of
where I want to take my business and what it will become
?”

They know they must continually “sharpen the saw,” as Stephen Covey tells us, and raise the bar all the time.

So the primary obstacles to achieving your business success are not in your experience, education, expertise, funding or financing.

Your primary obstacles to the business success you desire and the outcome you want to achieve are the mindset and skill set you bring to the game.

QUESTION: If the strategy for ensuring a successful exit transition is that simple and clear,  why do only 5% of all businesses get it done?

ANSWER: The other 95% know what to do. They know they should do it. However, they don’t follow through. They lack the mindset and skill set of a strategic CEO who truly wants to build a wealth-producing business.

Which one are you?

Time Is Running Out

Big business always ‘beats up’ and steals the lunch money of the small independent operators.
And if you know anything about business or have witnessed the birth or growth of an industry you have already seen the pattern play out time and time again
. “
-Rich Schefren

When you know the value of your time, when you know your worth in the market, it changes how you think about time. It changes how you think about free time, family time, even vacation time.

  •  Do you know what your time is worth?
  •  Do you know what your time needs to be worth to achieve your income
    goals?

These two are starting points. You need these two answers before you can make effective decisions about what activities you should spend your time on and what activities to delegate, outsource and automate.

It also takes discipline, learning new habits, and teaching those around you to value and respect your time. If you don’t value your time, no one else will. Therefore, your time management and concentration on your most valuable activities – or lack of either one – may be the reasons your business is not generating the desired income.  Yet you still might be working harder and longer than you want, with no end in sight.

This should be a wakeup call to use your time more wisely: eliminate switch-tasking, stop multi-tasking and hone in on what you do best. Your most important skills add value to the business every minute you are working. You must discipline yourself to focus on your most valuable activities, schedule everything you do, and delegate everything else. This will continually increase the worth of your time and add value to the business, enabling you to achieve your ultimate goal.

Time Is Running Out

I love entrepreneurs. I’m addicted to entrepreneurship. But the days of building a business from scratch with just a prototype widget, without a plan or a proven concept that delivers results for clients, are behind us.

Your clients don’t care what you are selling. They want to buy the results that your product or service WILL (not CAN) deliver as a solution to their problem.

The burden is on you. Your business must look like a business and act like a business that should be taken seriously. Because you are indeed competing for customers and clients with the big names in your industry. If you don’t think you have competition, you are in denial.

If you don’t have a strategic business plan and if you resist systematizing your business, the big guys won’t just eat your lunch, they’ll eat you for lunch.

In my experience working for dozens of high-tech startups for 11 years on the technical side, I saw this repeatedly. I had numerous clients who developed brilliant, clever and innovative products, but didn’t build the business itself in parallel. These companies did not survive. Just months after first product launch, they were sold or bought out by direct competitors.

You want to build a business that works so well, where you have such a full menu of product and service offerings to serve your niche, that your enterprise empire itself discourages competition. That same approach will also increase the value of your business, positioning you for an exit on your terms.

Intellectually, this is a straightforward solution documented from many angles in numerous best-selling books.

So if this is what it takes to catapult your business to the next level, and join the 5% of all businesses that thrive and grow to achieve their revenue goals so they can cashout; why don’t more CEOs build their enterprise empire to outperform their competition? Why do they murder their businesses instead?

95% of all CEOS murder their business because
they hold fast to three fundamental flaws
and succumb to three underlying defects
(or oversights) in their business.

Later posts will reveal these flaws and defects.

What You Can’t Do Is Create More Time

Time behaves like money – it’s a scarce resource.
Anything you achieve in life can be valued
by how much time you invested to acquire it.
Do you know the value of your time?

Procrastination vs. Productivity

You can’t hoard time from yesterday to use today. You can’t borrow time from tomorrow to use today either. You need to leverage your time, and how you spend your time, to deliver the maximum value for the business now, not someday.

Your own productivity is the standard for your entire business. Productivity is the time you apply to your most valuable activities – those tasks and responsibilities that generate the most or highest revenues for the business. Staying “busy” with tasks you can hire out at $12/hr. or $25/hr. is not being productive.

Do you know what percentage of the time you are productive? Really productive in your business? To put your answer in context, consider this:

One study of Fortune 500 CEOs estimated they had 28 productive minutes a day. Another one estimated it at 38 productive minutes a day.

You’re thinking, those CEOs put in such long hours, that can’t be right. Only 28 or 38 minutes a day? Now think about what these CEOs of the most successful companies do, how much they get done and how much (little) time they actually get to focus on profit-building activities.

You don’t have nearly the responsibilities of a Fortune 500 CEO. You should be able to carve out a lot more productive time. When you do increase your productivity, consciously using time more wisely:

  •  What will your day look like?
  •  What will get prioritized on your schedule?
  •  What has been siphoning off your valuable time that you can delegate more?
  •  How will this increase in productivity impact your bottom line?
  •  How much more time can you focus on the CEO role of strategy vs.
    management?

You need to stay focused on your priorities and your most valuable activities. Therefore, to scale or sell the business on your terms, you must leverage what you do best to achieve your most ambitious goals.

To leverage what you do best, you must view you and your business in a different way.

  •  You must stop seeing you as the sole resource in your business
  •  You cannot be the hub of every decision
  •  You cannot wear every hat
  •  You must start looking at how to leverage who you are and what you do to
    serve a larger audience and play a bigger game.

To do that, you must build an actual business and a team around what you currently excel at doing.

Stagnant 95% Statistic

It’s devastating. Ninety-five percent of all businesses never achieve their goals for the business and beyond, not to mention the long-term financial expectations for their families. This 95% statistic is widely accepted as an unchangeable fact and “the risk of doing business.

I can’t understand why it is still the accepted norm. Just like you confront and address every other risk you face in business, why not illuminate this gap, address it and fix it. I want to help you minimize the risk and overcome this statistical barrier to your success, to fulfill your dreams.

The core causes of this problem have been around since you launched your business. The solutions aren’t easy but they are so inexpensive that you can afford to implement every one and still stay within your budget. The key is, that we must reveals the flaws of businesses today and owners’ biggest self-imposed barriers.

The solution I present is a system that builds a strong foundation for your business, whether:

  •  You are just starting out, or you’ve been in business a while
  •  You have a team or no team
  •  You have revenues less than $100K or more than $10M
  •  You are on a fast-track to be acquired or want to cash out to pursue your reinvention

When you systematize your entire enterprise for long-term results, it will transform your business and your life. You will gain time, control, freedom and flexibility all while the business prospers, grows and breaks through to achieve new heights of success you didn’t dare dream of – until now. Everything you do to accelerate growth and maximize value makes the business more buyer ready and buyer attractive.

If you are in business delivering product, content or services, then you have a few options to grow your business exponentially. Simplistically, your choices are to:

  •  increase the number of clients
  •  increase the volume you sell/client
  •  increase prices
  •  decrease costs
  •  or a combination of these four

When you take action to build a sale-able business, you join the 5% who successfully complete the transaction and transition to their reinvention.

Your Window of Opportunity Starts Now

Window of Opportunity quote from Rapunzel

Without a doubt, when you lack the knowledge to build
a strong foundation for your business,
you commit yourself to more struggles, wasting time
and making everything harder.

This is your opportunity. Before it’s too late for your business. Before you murder your business.

If you take action to prepare your business now, over time, you will join the 5% of all businesses that succeed.

Heed the mistakes made by more than 90% of all entrepreneurs that prevent them from achieving their goals, fulfilling their dreams, profiting from their business and designing an ideal exit strategy on their terms.

By doing this kind of strategic thinking with clients, we help many struggling entrepreneurs and owners to develop a business foundation that enables them to  make their business a success and achieve their goals in the business and beyond.

Everything we offer on this website is here to help you. The website, my book, HARVEST Your Wealth, the whitepapers, are all designed to propel every owner/entrepreneur to success. What we offer is an antidote for the 95% failure rate.

Just like the medicines your doctor prescribes, solutions and strategies offered here only work if you take them (take action).

The 5 Ps of Long-term Prosperity

[Aaron Young, CEO Laughlin Associates shared this article this week.
I could not Not share it with you.]

It takes a great deal of focus and determination to keep a business running strong and it starts with having a clear understanding of the 5 P’s,  purpose, preparation, protection, passion, and profits which all play an equal part in your business success.  Each category comprises a specific portion of the business which characterizes the steps needed to create long term growth and prosperity.

Prosperity

PURPOSE

“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”– Brian Tracy, Author

Defining the purpose of your business plays a critical role in the success of your company. When you started your company you had a reason, you had a vision, and you had a mission. Your business purpose should be what drives you every day and provides you with the framework to make smart decisions that are aligned with your business goals. When evaluating next steps, new products, services or affiliates you should compare them against your company’s purpose. If they aren’t aligned then don’t do them.

PREPARATION

“By Failing To Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail” – Benjamin Franklin

 Preparation is critical for long term growth throughout the business life cycle. It’s always good to be prepared for the worst, natural disaster, litigation, financial failure but it’s just as important to be prepared for growth.  Preparation starts with planning. If you have data, back it up. If you are getting ready for expansion make sure the systems you have in place can be duplicated. If you depend on one supplier, get a back-up in place.  Being able to manage change, good or bad, no matter what the circumstance can save you from devastation.

PROTECTION

“Making money is only as good as your ability to keep it.” –  Kevin Day, Esq.

 Running a business is risky, but you can greatly reduce that risk by establishing layers of protection between yourself, your business and your assets. The willingness to take risks is what separates entrepreneurs from the rest of the world but successful business owners know the difference between intelligent risk and waving the red flag. Asset protection starts with a strong foundation that separates out your assets. By utilizing a corporation or LLC you can eliminate the risk of putting all your eggs in one basket. Risk is part of business but you can greatly reduce the risk by putting the right pieces into place to ensure the continuation of your business into the future.

PASSION

“A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.”  Charles M. Schwab

When you are able to align your passion with your business all of a sudden you start to manifest results. The passion for what you do, how you do it and who you serve will be the driving force to your success. The passion is what carries you through the tough times. If you are feeling lost, bored or stuck in your business, it’s time to reconnect with your passion. Take the time to listen to your inner voice, love what you do, embrace your calling and keep pushing forward.

PROFITS

“Entrepreneurial profit is the expression of the value of what the entrepreneur contributes to production.” Schumpeter, Joseph A.

Profits are the benchmark of business. Profits can only be obtained when the revenue out paces the expenses, taxes and costs of running your business. Without profit your business won’t last long so keeping a close eye on your expenses and profits plays a big part in the long term sustainability of your business. You should know the cost to produce every product and service you offer. How can you cut costs? Can you raise your prices? If there is an upsell service you can provide, would that add to your bottom line without increasing your costs? These are just a few of the questions you should be evaluating on a day to day basis to drive profit to your bottom line.

Operating a successful business starts with staying focused, having a plan and being prepared. The decisions you make should be centered around your purpose and aimed at fulfilling your passion.

Aaron Young, CEO of Laughlin Associates can be contacted at aaronyoung@laughlinusa.com, 1-800-648-0966, www.laughlinusa.com.

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