It is clear the future holds great opportunities. It also holds pitfalls. The trick will be to avoid the pitfalls, seize the opportunities, and get back home by six o’clock.

~ Woody Allen

This blog post is for those of you who are earlier on in your business journey. Being early on in your business journey doesn’t necessarily relate to how long you’ve been in business, it speaks more to where your business is at in terms of growth. If you’re unsure about what stage you and your business are in, click here to watch the replay of a recent FB Live I did on the Five Stages of Business Growth or head here to read an article I wrote on the same subject.

It’s also worth noting that the pitfalls I share below can happen to business owners at any stage of the business journey and you may well find yourself nodding at some of these even if you’ve been in business for years!

1. Believing the hype

As with any industry, the amount of absolute crap online about how to succeed in business is breathtaking. As someone who has built profitable businesses and worked with countless others to build profitable businesses of their own, I know first hand what it takes to go from making zero dollars to making regular and consistent income and I can promise you now that there is no magic bullet. No secret formula to success, no quick and easy 6-step process.

In fact, when you see promises like these, I want you to run for the hills, because promises like these are hype, designed to play on your desire for success and have you reaching for your credit card before you can say: do I really believe what I’m being sold here?

Don’t get me wrong, there is no shame (or judgement) in getting sucked in by some of these promises. We’ve all been there. Who hasn’t bought the $37 guide to consistent $10,000 months, hoping that we’ll learn something that will expedite our business journey. These offers are designed to manipulate and play on your desires and your fear of missing out on fulfilling them.

I do, however, urge you to exercise caution and common sense whenever you see a promise that seems too good to be true. Anything that promises you quick and easy success is probably a lie — how do I know? Because if a fool-proof, quick and easy way to make big bucks online had been found, then everyone would know about it and everyone would be doing it already. Achieving true, long-lasting results takes time. It takes commitment and it requires taking consistent action, on the right things, over the long haul.

2. Waiting for perfection

Something I see a lot is people who have the desire to start their own business, know what business they want to create and yet they are playing the waiting game. “I need to have my website finished before I can tell people about my business”. “I need to have more people on my list before I can start sending out my newsletter”, “I need to have professional photos taken before I can launch my website.” “I need to clearly define my niche before I can put any offers out” and the list goes on. Can you relate?

Waiting for perfection is the ultimate form of sabotage. The clearly defined niche, the professionally designed website, the brand to die for and the enticing suite of offers you see from the established professionals in your field, all came after years of working this stuff out. Putting things out to see what works and what doesn’t, trial and error. Failure and flops. Dead ends and re-routes.

This is an inevitable part of the business journey and not one you can (or should want to) short-cut. If you find yourself saying I’ll take “x action” in my business when “y thing” is in place, then you’re probably playing the waiting game and I invite you to ask yourself if there is a way you can go ahead and take action before the perfect thing you desire is in place.

3. Wasting time on the wrong things

In the early stages of business it’s not uncommon to get bogged down working on the wrong things for the stage of business you’re at. This often happens when we compare our year one in business with someone else’s year 8, 9 or 10. We might become fixated on creating the perfect brand before we’ve taken the crucial steps of building an audience and then engaging with that audience to find out what would most speak to them.

It’s common nature to look at other business owners we admire and seek to emulate them in order to achieve similar success but when we try to copy someone else’s business model, we risk missing out on the vital steps that see our business model evolve and mature with us, and in a way that is aligned with how we work and want to work in the world.

Something I see often is people getting bogged down with the busy work of their business. Tweaking their website, trying to perfect their website copy, looking for the perfect images, fonts etc for their graphics. In the early stages of business growth your only job is to connect with people and to serve them in whatever way you can.

I would encourage you to be creating content and connections at every opportunity, regardless of whether or not you have the perfect website, brand or niche. Because here’s the thing — all that time you spend early on trying to create the perfect image of your business will likely change the minute you start working with people, which leads me nicely onto the next point.

4. Trying to niche too soon

Yes I know that you’ve heard it a million times. You have to have a well-defined niche or you’ll never succeed and whilst knowing who we help and what we help them with them is hugely important, a common mistake I see is business owners trying to niche too soon. Forcing themselves to pick a focus for their business before they’ve allowed themselves to truly explore what lights them up.

Consider the fact that you don’t need to choose your niche because it will evolve organically if you are out in the world connecting with potential clients and discovering the sweet spot between what they need and what you can offer. It took me years to define my niche as a coach and it only became clear to me after I had coached hundreds of people.

5. Trying to do all of the things

I totally get it, it’s overwhelming trying to start a business, especially, given how shouty many so-called business experts are these days online. With everyone and their dog shouting at you to come follow their secret strategy for immediate success, it’s no surprise that many business owners start to fall into a pattern of trying to do all of the things, a sure road to burn out or worse still, they strategy switch, which is chopping and changing strategies without ever giving the damn thing adequate time to work.

Being successful in business does not require you to do all of the things such as newsletters, blogs, networking events, podcasting, free workshops and being on every social media channel there is. In fact, this is more likely to do harm than good. On the other hand, following through consistently with one or two, tried and tested, business growth strategies (like content marketing and outreach) can make all the difference.

So there you have it, five common pitfalls I see people come up against time and time again. Have you been guilty of falling into one of these traps? If so let me know in the comments below.



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