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The Real Reasons Your Business Isn’t Successful

How would you like to work with someone who has vague dreams, a heavy reliance on ego, and a frightening lack of strategy? When you read it on paper, it seems obvious that none of these unattractive traits serve as key factors to success.

Yet, looking at the day-to-day actions of many entrepreneurs, you’ll see hints of one or all of these career killers sprinkled throughout their execution. If you have found yourself floundering, it might be time to take a moment and reassess.

Here are the five reasons you might be having trouble, each followed by no-fail ways to get back on track.

1 | Your goals are vague.

One of the first things I do with my clients is sit down and have them complete a 15-page branding packet that will help them identify their brand, their clients, and their vision. I insist they take a full two weeks to do it and to allow themselves to really think and get inspired instead of just rushing through to “get it done.”

Nearly every client I sit with moans and makes excuses as to why they don’t need to do it (read: can’t). But when the two weeks are over, every single one of them has raved about how much it helped them see their brand and vision clearly.

The world is full of people with vague dreams, but unless you are absolutely clear on your objectives, getting sidetracked is inevitable. You have to commit to more than the goal; you must also commit to taking the time to get clear on what it looks like. Break it down and make it digestible, and then take steps every day to achieve it.

2 | You don’t address your “areas of opportunity.”

I have an amazing mentor named Mary Ann Grillo who will always point out someone’s strengths and then ask them to locate their “areas of opportunity.” This is essentially asking them to identify their weaknesses and then work to make them stronger. Her positioning of the phrase made shortcomings feel like small blips on the path to greatness, and allowed space for others to ask questions and seek support without feeling inadequate. She believes doing this daily whilst holding yourself accountable for meeting daily goals (which she suggests you write down and check off) will set you up for success.

Think about the skills that will give you the edge and help you achieve your goals. Then, find a class, coach, or mentor to help you grow.

3 | You’re afraid of strategy.

Optimism and spontaneity have their places in a successful career and happy life, but both are very different from “winging it.”

Be honest with yourself: Are you avoiding research and strategy because you aren’t sure what to do? Are you afraid of committing to a strategy because you’re worried you will fail? Are you turning a blind eye to this important part of your business because you’re more creative and you find it overwhelming?

Putting your business, brand, and product out there without a solid understanding of data, analytics, and other information that will help you to effectively navigate your market is like driving cross-country without a map. You may get to where you want to go eventually, but you will have wasted gas, money, time, and energy. Worse, you may find your destination overpopulated thanks to showing up so late in the game.

4 | You assume you know how it’s done.

Here’s the thing about expertise: It’s a living and moving thing. An expert today will only be an expert tomorrow if they continue to research new information about their market, pay attention to changes in their environment, and sharpen their skill set to meet the new challenges and requirements in their industry.

This doesn’t mean it’s productive to have a knee-jerk reaction to every new piece of information that comes in, but softly tweaking where necessary will do wonders for your business. Assume you don’t know something every time you sit down at the table and you’ll always walk away smarter and/or more confident.

5 | You’re a slave to data.

There’s no denying the value of strong, organized data, but we must not forget that introducing new products, services, and ways of thinking can change the numbers. Find a balance between information and creativity. Give the people what they want but don’t get so caught up in pie charts that you stop working to invent the things they don’t know they want.

This article was originally written by Brenda Della Casa for Inc.com.

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