3 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make in Business and How to Avoid Them – Part 1

Over the years working with coaches, consultants, and other entrepreneurs who have been my clients, my students and even my friends and acquaintances, I have seen so many of them make the exact same mistakes that are keeping them from realizing their business goals.  (In full disclosure, I have made these mistakes on my business journey, too!)  More importantly, I’ve learned that avoiding or correcting them can result in a total business turnaround.

Today I’ll be talking about the first mistake.  Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 for other critical pitfalls to avoid in your business.

Mistake #1:  Lack of Focus

There are so many reasons why having a clear and specific focus is critical to business.  First and foremost, if you are a solopreneur, your time and resources are limited.  If you try to focus on too many things, you’ll probably fail at all of them.  It’s hard enough starting and running a business, and that’s why most small businesses fail (a shocking 80-90%).  A lack of focus could essentially mean you are starting and running multiple businesses at once, especially if you are trying to launch multiple products or services at the same time.  If 80% of small businesses fail, how do you think you will fare when trying to launch multiple simultaneous ventures?  See where I’m going with this?  

As an entrepreneur, you have creative tendencies, and you are likely an idea person. That’s a major strength!  The challenge for entrepreneurs often lies in choosing ONE idea to work on at a time. Sometimes it can feel like a betrayal to choose one idea over another.  Or maybe you are so excited about three products or services, you can’t bear to put one in front of the other and want to launch them all, believing you’ll be able to reap the rewards of all three at once.   I’m not going to mince words:  that is a mistake.  

On the other hand, if you choose ONE idea and mobilize your collective time, energy and resources to bring it to life, you’ll have an infinitely greater chance of success.  Instead of splitting your focus on developing multiple products or services and having to create and fund multiple marketing plans, you commit to supporting this ONE idea with all your energy and resources until you get it launched and get it right.  Sit with that for a moment.  Doesn’t that feel better – even in this imaginary scenario – than the frantic pressure of trying to do too many things at once?  The best decision you can make in your business is to commit to one idea at a time so your business can survive the test of time.

4 Benefits of Creating a Core Focus In Your Business

Here are some compelling benefits of the power of focus in a small business.

  1. Clarity of purpose, without which you cannot create an effective action plan
  2. Get better, faster results by directing all your resources to one core business focus
  3. Simplify and create efficiencies – critical when you have limited time, energy and resources
  4. Fast track to the money-making part of business – the sooner you get your core business focus up and running, the sooner you can start getting paid for that work

This basic principle of focus can be applied to your overall business, but can also be applied to individual business projects, events and initiatives.  It should also be applied to different areas of your business. Here are three key areas where it’s critical to have focus to succeed as a small business owner.

3 Key Areas Where You Need Focus

1) Your Product or Service.  Focus on one “business unit” at a time, especially if you have a service-based business.  It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your other ideas, but do yourself a favor and launch one at a time, only adding to your business when you’ve established steady sales and you’re sure you have the capacity to add to your business.

2) Your Target Market.  Focus on one narrowly defined target customer, or niche.  This concept feels counterintuitive to most small business owners.  If I want to make maximum sales, shouldn’t I just try to serve everyone?  No, you shouldn’t.  Many small business owners feel they need to serve everyone out of a fear that they won’t be able to find enough clients.  But when you try to be everything to everyone in business, you have to generalize your marketing message to reach such a broad audience that in the end, it doesn’t connect with anyone.  In contrast, when you narrow your focus and your marketing message, your ideal clients know instantly whether your product or service is a good fit for them (or someone they know) – and that is the first step toward making your next sale.

3) Your Marketing Plan.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the marketing choices out there.  If you tried to follow the advice of every expert online, in your inbox, or at the latest conference or networking event, your head would explode.  You can avoid a marketing meltdown by (1) understanding which marketing strategies align with your strengths, and (2) using one or two of those strategies consistently so you can master them and start getting results.  For example, if checking your email is the extent of your tech savvy, the idea of online marketing is probably terrifying.  But, if you’re a rock star at connecting with people real-time in a meaningful conversation, then look for ways to market your business that align with your advanced people skills and focus on that.  

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your business, and if you’re feeling stuck and not getting the results you want, financially or otherwise, take a moment to recalibrate your focus. Are you taking on too much?  Do you need a recovery plan for your marketing meltdown?  Where would you benefit from narrowing the focus in your business?