Roughly 550,000 new businesses are started each month.
According to the SBA, 1/3 of businesses fail within the first two years.
In the first four years, the number of failing businesses increases to 56 percent.
62% of entrepreneurs in the US claim “innate drive” as the number one motivator in starting their business.
But when it comes to reasons why businesses fail, the SBA reports that “owners may not have the passion or persistence to keep running the business efficiently and learn from their mistakes”.
So what happens to that “innate drive”???
In my experience as an International Expert on Business over the last decade, there are 3 major stages of a Dying Business Owner. The ones that you end up in without even realizing it, slowly killing your passion and rapidly plummeting your persistence.
While most of my clients come to me when they’re ready to uplevel their business, there have certainly been times when they come to me because they’re exhausted, burned out, overwhelmed, disappointed, angry, frustrated – and thinking they just want the hell OUT of their business.
In fact, I’ve seen it more times than you could imagine.
Read on to see if you recognize yourself in the midst of any of these stages and what you can do about it – if you’re willing.
Stage 1: Decline
The Stage of Decline is draining, exhausting and discouraging. It’s easily recognizable because it’s a stark contrast in the way things were. Your energy and enthusiasm are fading fast. It may creep up on you but when it hits, you can’t miss it! You dread going into work. You dread picking up the phone. You dread meeting with people. You may even dread getting up in the morning, feeling like you just can’t “do this anymore”. The Stage of Decline is when you first start to notice things aren’t going as planned and aren’t going well because you see a loss of clients, a lack of new sales, a deterioration of morale or other symptoms that the business is in a downward spiral.
Stage 2: Despair
The Stage of Despair is chaotic, stressful and overwhelming. You can’t mistake this stage because it’s when you have the realization that you’re sinking fast and if you don’t do something about it NOW, you’ll end up closing your doors – for good! You scramble to find a quick fix. You desperately try anything you can to sell something, fix everything and create a miracle. You’re trying to clean up a mess that’s been building for months and perhaps years as quickly as possible. In the Stage of Despair, you don’t know where to start first because the problems are systemic and extensive.
Stage 3: Disinterest
The Stage of Disinterest is apathetic, draining and indifferent. When you’ve hit this stage, you’ve moved into acceptance – a subconscious acceptance that things just aren’t going to get better. You’re not ready to call it “quits” yourself, but if the bank calls in your note or the landlord says he’s shutting your doors, you’re not surprised and you feel a secret sense of relief. You go in to work and do the minimum to keep face, to put up a front that you’re doing “all you can” and you’re not a deserter. However, in your heart, you know you just don’t have any fight left in you and you don’t even react anymore when bad news hits. You no longer have expectations of it getting better. You’re just doing what you do because you don’t have any other plan and don’t know where to go if this really is “the end”.
So what can you do?
Let me start from Stage 3 as it’s the most critical. When you’re in Stage 3, Disinterest, you have ONLY 2 options. Option 1) Wake the hell up and fight your way back or 2) Be 150% honest with yourself, turn off the lights and close the doors. Then at least you can start living again and planning what’s next in your life and career. If you choose Option #1, you’ll need to engage your Team in a big way to support you in getting back on track – fast! If you choose Option #2, you’ll need to follow some protocol for ending your business with dignity, integrity and keeping your sanity. Either way, you may need an outside Consultant to guide you to the outcome you really want.
If you can see yourself in Stage 2, I HIGHLY suggest you hire a powerful Coach to get you back on course as quickly and effectively as possible. Without someone to OBJECTIVELY guide you through the process, you’ll end up spinning your wheels, making little or no progress no matter how hard you try. Then you’ll find yourself headed for Stage 3 faster than you can say “holy smackers”! You’ll need to carefully sequence the projects you take on to bring your business back to life without running it – or yourself – into the grave unintentionally. This is not something you want to risk doing on your own. That lack of objectivity and deep emotional attachment could be your collapse even with the best of efforts.
If you’ve only barely begun to see the signs of Stage 1, you are probably at the very beginning and get your business back on its feet rather quickly (and hopefully somewhat painlessly). I do recommend you hire an experienced Coach who can support you in truing up your course with velocity. In this stage, the faster you can get yourself, your mindset and your business back on the pathway you intended, the better your opportunities for long lasting success. However, you can also begin by digging into books, self study courses, video trainings or other passive methods of motivation and redirection. Be conscious of how much time you can really afford to “try” things before you are out of resources – emotional, physical and financial.
If you recognized yourself anywhere in these Stages or are concerned you may be heading towards any of them, reach out to me for a complimentary Discovery Session. In this Session, you’ll determine if you are, in fact, making your way down the slippery slope of a Dying Business Owner and what some options are to avoid that fate.
You can apply here: Complimentary Discovery Session