You’ve heard of all the success stories…

Tons of people have created businesses on the side that eventually enabled them to leave their day jobs and live their dreams.

So why not you?

Make Money Online I Am Going To Be Rich

They make it sound easy enough…

You’ve listened to what everybody has to say, and took action to launch your own side-business.

It felt great taking action at first, but now that you’ve lost momentum you feel like it’s all for nothing.

You probably feel like you’ve exhausted every option. You’ve consumed all the content you could, trying to find the missing piece.

But it still isn’t working…

I Feel Left out

Seems like everybody is successful but you…

You start to convince yourself that success is just luck.

Maybe you just can’t find your passion, or the right niche. Maybe all the success stories were just well-thought out lies. But you’re only lying to yourself.

The only person to blame is you.

One Does Not Simple Become A Millionaire

This takes some people years to learn

The cold hard fact is that you’re doing something wrong. There is a kink somewhere in your master plan (if you even have one).

Success stories always sound easy in hindsight, but becoming one takes years of hard work and dedication. Almost all of them occur only after a long string of failures.

So how can you reduce your chance of failure, and increase the chance of your side business becoming a success?

Here are some of the top things I see take solopreneurs and their businesses down, along with how you can avoid them.

If you feel your side business is stuck, then it is probably for one of these reasons…


Real Reasons Your Business Will Fail

You Have No Plan
You Started For The Wrong Reasons
Nobody Wants Your Product
You’re Not Focusing On The Right Things
You’re Not Trying Hard Enough
Your Product Is Too Complex
You’re Not Taking Enough Action
You’re Afraid Of Failing Fast
You’re Not Creating Value
You’re Executing Your Idea Poorly
You’re Not Willing To Invest Money
You’re Spending Too Much Money
You’re Thinking Too Big
Your Business Isn’t Scalable
Your Niche Is Too Small
Your Existing Clients Are Unhappy
You Don’t Know Enough About Business
You Think You Can Do It By Yourself
You’re Not Pivoting
You’re The Same As The Competition
You’re Not Reaching Your Target Customer
You Have No People Skills

You Have No Plan

You don’t know what your goals or objectives are. You are shortsighted and have no action plan to achieve your vision.

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.- Jim Rohn

 Why you must have a plan

Success doesn’t just happen, it’s planned for.

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to end up going nowhere. Knowing what your business will be and how you will sell is not enough to make it successful.

I’m not suggesting you write out a formal business plan, but you need to know everything about your business. If you cannot literally see yourself and your business far into the future beyond today, then you are on the path to destruction.

Not having this consciousness is the reason most entrepreneurs fail. Since they aren’t thinking about the future, they are constantly falling behind those who are creating it.

How to get a plan

  • Make sure you have short and long terms goals, know your business’ finances and how to manage it, your target market and how you’ll capture a share of it.
  • You need to understand your business and how it fits into your target customer’s life, like the back of your hand. I understand people read things like this all the time, but most never grasp what it truly means.
  • You need to be the rain man of your business and how it will succeed. You need to know EVERYTHING about these things, from 10 years ago til 10+ years from now. What can you start doing today to meet the needs of tomorrow?

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You Started For The Wrong Reasons

The only thing you thought about when building your business was how it would make you rich and awesome.

One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.- Jeff Bezos

Wrong reasons to start

Did you think that starting your own business would quickly lead to lots of money, more time with friends and family, or freedom from answering to others?

I can’t even begin to tell you how wrong you were…

The entrepreneurs who have achieve that kind of freedom do so only after a long period of struggle and sacrifice. So strap down and get ready for the grind.

Right reasons to start

  • You need to think about your interests and passions, and how you can leverage them to provide value to people and help them enrich their lives.
  • You must have a passion for and love what you’re doing. You need to believe, with your entire being, that your product or service fulfills a real need in your target customer’s life.
  • Be ready for the long haul. Building a business is one of the most demanding things a person can do.

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Nobody Wants Your Product

There’s no demand for your product, and you didn’t check before building it.

Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight. -Henry R. Luce

If you build it, they won’t care

Thinking that “if you build it, they will come” will doom you to failure.

History is heavy with companies that built a product before they really understood who their customer was or why they needed it. More often than not, it ends in failure.

It’s much less risky to know your product will sell before you build it.

You must find or create demand

  • You have to leverage existing demand or learn how to create it yourself.
  • The easiest way to see if anybody wants your idea is simple validation testing. It’s imperative to validate your idea before you launch it into a full-fledged business.
  • Talk to prospective customers and find out what they really need and why.
  • Find the customer first, then figure out what solution to provide and how.

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You’re Not Focusing On The Right Things

You’re not focusing, or you’re focusing on the wrong things. You try to do too many things at once. Your actions don’t align with a big picture.

If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it’s moving you away from your goals. -Brian Tracy

Know what not to do

All entrepreneurs are cursed with having too many ideas that are too tempting not to execute. The trick is knowing what not to do and focusing on what counts.

You need to know how every action is fitting into your master plan.

Focus on what makes the biggest impact

  • Strive to make sure that every action you perform benefits your customer in some way. Whatever task you’re doing, ask yourself how it will benefit the end user.
  • Focus on your strengths. As an entrepreneur your success or failure will be as a result of how well you maximize your strengths. Your strengths are those activities you naturally enjoy doing and would naturally do for free your entire life if necessary. Entrepreneurship is about using your skills and passions for the benefit of others. Stop doing what everyone else is doing and start doing what you can do exceptionally well.
  • It’s important to focus on the right metrics and ignore vanity metrics. Create value for your target customer.
  • Focus on the thing with the best timing and most potential. Jack Dorsey shelved the idea for Twitter for almost a decade before he felt the time was right to execute.

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You’re Not Trying Hard Enough

You have no follow through. You can’t handle what it takes to build a successful company from scratch.

Success comes down to hard work plus passion, over time. If you work really, really hard over a long period of time, it will pay off. -Stanley Tang

Most people can’t handle it

There is a reason entrepreneurs are few and far between.

Most people don’t want to put in the work required to build a successful business from scratch. It can be due to stress, risk aversion, lack of confidence, fear of failure, or any one of an onslaught of unforeseen reasons.

That isn’t any knock against them. Most people would much rather have the comfort of a typical job.

I suspect that isn’t you, though…

Get pissed

  • When others throw in the towel, you have to be more joyfully determined than ever.
  • You have to have drive, determination, patience, and a positive attitude.
  • You must thrive on independence, and be skilled at taking charge when nobody else will (possibly with nobody supporting you).
  • When building a company from scratch, you have to be extremely dedicated and committed.
  • You have to believe in your ability to achieve your dreams with unwavering strength.

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Your Product Is Too Complex

Your target customer doesn’t understand how to use your product or why it will be valuable for them.

Any darn fool can make something complex. It takes a genius to make something simple -Albert Einstein

 Complexity shows confusion

If your product is too confusing for your customers to understand or use, then it is useless. People don’t buy what they don’t understand.

Complex products are a result of confused production. With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, your solutions need to be more and more simple.

Simplicity Sells

  • Your challenge is to make complex challenges simple to solve for your target customer.
  • Develop a deep understanding of how your customer will benefit from your product, and allow them to accomplish that in the simplest manner possible (for them).
  • Constantly work with your customers to reduce friction and enhance the simplicity of your product.

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You’re Not Taking Enough Action

You spend more time learning how to grow your business than you do on growing your business.

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. -Nolan Bushnell

Knowledge is useless until put into action

Every piece of knowledge is completely valueless until put to use.

If you’re not taking action, then you’re not really doing anything. At least, not anything your target customers will pay for.

Learn through action

  • Try to learn by doing rather than reading or watching others.
  • If you do decide to consume content, make sure you can implement it in your business immediately. And then implement it.
  • Read this a few times…

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You’re Afraid Of Failing Fast

You don’t have the courage to embrace failure and learn from it. You spend a significant amount of time coming up with reasons your ideas won’t work.

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill

Failure is success

You can’t let failure defeat you, you have to leverage it to make you stronger.

Many studies have shown that successful business owners attribute much of their success to “building on earlier failures” and using failure as a “learning process”.

Learn to use each failure as a building block in your business empire.

Fail fast and often

  • Understand that failure is what enabled successful people to become successful.
  • Understand that every failure makes you stronger overall.
  • Fail fast and fail often, using every bump as a learning opportunity.

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You’re Not Creating Value

You’ve lost focus on creating innovative solutions that will add value to your target market.

Entrepreneurial profit is the expression of the value of what the entrepreneur contributes to production. -Joseph Schumpeter

Never stop creating value

Your primary job as an entrepreneur is to create value and solve problems. That’s what people will pay you for.

If you stop being valuable, people will stop giving you money. It’s that simple.

 Provide value first

  • Focus on providing value to your target customer first, then move on to everything else.
  • Create value-adding products that help enrich the lives of your target customers.
  • Purpose (value) driven entrepreneurs will always be more successful than survival (money) driven ones.

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You’re Executing Your Idea Poorly

Your projects never seem to get done. When they do get done, they’re done poorly or rarely work.

“Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.” – Jim Collins

Ideas are worthless

Clever ideas don’t make businesses successful, superb execution does. So it makes sense that most businesses fail due to poor execution.

When you’re the boss, you’re the only one the blame.

Execution is everything

  • Evaluate your skills and only pursue opportunities aligned with your strengths. 
  • Surround yourself with talented people who will tell you when you’re going in the wrong direction.
  • Try your hardest to eliminate your ego so you don’t get ahead of yourself and in over your head.
  • Make sure everything you’ve got everything else on this list down 😉

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You’re Not Willing To Invest Money

You assume that any money spent trying to grow your business is money wasted.

“I’d say it’s been my biggest problem all my life…it’s money. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true.” – Walt Disney

 It takes money to make money

You need to spend money to make money.

New businesses need money to grow at any meaningful pace.

The real problem is that you’re not confident that you can spend the money and see a return.

Spend money in the right places

  • Buy what you absolutely need.
  • See every dollar that goes into your business as an investment, and expect a return.
  • Know how every dollar you put in will come back out as $2.

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You’re Spending Too Much Money

You’re comfortable investing money in the growth of your business, but you don’t keep track of it. You don’t really know what expenditures are helping and which are hurting.

“The essence of a successful business is really quite simple. It is your ability to offer a product or service that people will pay for at a price sufficiently above your costs, ideally three or four or five times your cost, thereby giving you a profit that enables you to buy and to offer more products and services.” – Brian Tracy

 Cash flow is your company’s blood

It’s key to manage your resources effectively.

Never ignore your finances or your cash flow. Poor money management has taken down many entrepreneurs that would otherwise be successful.

Being an entrepreneur means being able to do more with less.

Everything must have a return

  • Don’t make any expenditure unless you’re sure you can turn it back into cash flow.
  • Try to only spend money on urgent and important needs. Don’t splurge on anything, only buy what is necessary.
  • Focus on making the most out of the assets you already have at your disposal.

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You’re Thinking Too Big

You’re trying to solve many problems for many people, or build a product for everyone. You think you can compete head-to-head with industry leaders.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby

Think big, act small

If you try to please everybody, you’ll end up pleasing nobody.

Think like a big company. Shoot high, and have a grand and noble purpose.

But act like a small company. Keep close to your customers and provide them with exactly what they need, better than anybody else can.

Niche down

  • Focus all your efforts towards a small, well targeted niche. Dominate that niche.
  • Be one thing to one group of people, but do that one thing better than anybody else could ever do it. You can branch out from there.

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Your Business Isn’t Scalable

You’re selling your time for money. You can’t seem to grow your business without putting in your own time.

“Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant” – Michael Gerber

 Focus on scale

If you ever want to build a business that makes money without you actively working on it, it’s key that you focus on scale.

Make sure you build your business in a way that it can grow without your active involvement.

Build business systems

  • Operationalize everything in your business. Break it down to the point where you can easily hand it off to another person with minimal friction.
  • Focus on building systems that grow your business, rather than doing everything by hand on your own time.
  • Build your business so it could continue to grow even if you weren’t there.
  • Automate, outsource, or delegate everything you can.

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Your Niche Is Too Small

You’ve completely dominated your niche, but there’s not enough of them to create any meaningful revenue.

“I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” – Walt Disney

Niche down, but not too far

You’ll need to specialize in a niche market to compete against larger rivals.

However, you still need to do your homework to be sure that the niche is large enough to support your business.

Make sure your niche isn’t too small

  • Don’t be afraid of any competition at all. Competition shows that there is enough money to sustain multiple companies. What you need to be afraid of is a complete saturation of competitors.
  • Figure out how fast your niche is growing and how much market share you’ll need to capture to sustain your company.
  • Don’t move forward unless you’re confident your competitive advantages will enable you to become a market leader.
  • Just because a niche has no competition doesn’t mean it’s a good niche. It could mean it’s a terrible niche that puts everybody out of business.

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Your Existing Clients Are Unhappy

You’re servicing the people who do buy your product poorly.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

 Word of mouth works both ways

It’s imperative that you keep the customers you do have happy. They will tell people about their experience with your company, good or bad.

Not to mention – existing customers will spend an average of 7x more money with you than new ones.

 Make the customer happy

  • Don’t promise more than you can deliver just to get the sale.
  • Don’t tell customers what they want to hear, tell them what they need to know.
  • Set expectations for what you’ll provide, and then exceed them. Give the customer more than they expected at every opportunity.

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You Don’t Know Enough About Business

You’re managing the business incorrectly.

“A business idea is just another idea. But an idea backed by a strong feasibility, a thorough business plan and a smart team is no longer an idea. It’s now a solid business opportunity worth pursuing.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

Many hats of business

There are many different facets of running a successful business that some never take the time to learn.

Financial management, employee relations, advertising, marketing, technology, purchasing, inventory, production, hiring, accounting, and many other essential business responsibilities ultimately lie on you.

You must not only understand them all, but understand how they work together as a whole and how you can manipulate them to help you grow.

Never stop learning

  • Find out what areas you’re weak in, and start making up for it.
  • Seek out people who have already done what you’re trying to learn. Try to pick their brains.
  • If all else fails, outsource it to somebody who knows what they’re doing and figure out exactly how to do it in the future.

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You Think You Can Do It By Yourself

You refuse to let anyone help you, and think it can only be done right if it’s done by you.

“I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have.” -Russell Simmons

 You can’t do it alone

There is a limit to what you can achieve alone.

The only way to grow beyond that is through leveraging team work and the work of others.

Great things are seldom achieved alone.

You’ll need help

  • Understand that your idea is not entirely yours to dominate. You are only a vessel through which an idea is being launched.
  • Learn how to enlist others to help you grow your business and achieve your dreams.
  • Realize one of the only way to get more work done beyond your own time constraints is with the help of others.

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You’re Not Pivoting

It sometimes seems like you should change your business or product, but you refuse to change it. You think your vision is perfect the way it is, and can’t understand why your customers don’t feel the same.

“There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” -Sam Walton

 Change can be good

Not having the courage or decisiveness to pivot can be just as bad as creating a product nobody wants.

Take every piece of feedback and data you can, and consider implementing all of it.

The customer is always right

  •  Have the flexibility to change your business and your vision over time.
  • Constantly revisit your goals and objectives as you get more feedback and learn more about your customers.
  • Cherish every piece of feedback you get, and work to get more it wherever possible.

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You’re The Same As The Competition

Your product doesn’t provide any more value than the existing solutions. You’re not creating enough value to differentiate yourself from the competition.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules…because the ones how are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs

Be unique and differentiate

A lack of competitive advantage will be fatal for any business.

If you want your business to thrive, you need something that makes you unique and differentiates you from the competition. Even though the your advantage won’t last forever, it will be enough to get you started.

Set yourself apart

  • Build your business on things that will be hard to duplicate. Proprietary technologies, brands, location, people, or business processes that are hard to replicate are just some examples.
  • Take a new angle that your target market hasn’t seen before. Don’t think that just because your competition hasn’t done it, it won’t work. Be the innovator in your field.
  • Make sure you provide more value for your target customer than your competition. It’s that simple.

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You’re Not Reaching Your Target Customer

You’re not effectively targeting your ideal customers, or you’re not targeting the correct market.

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” -David Ogilvy

Marketing is essential

There are many remarkable pieces of human art and innovation that you’ll never hear of. The reason is that many of the world’s greatest writers, artists, musicians, scientists, engineers, and other creators simply don’t know how to market themselves.

It doesn’t matter how awesome your product is, or how much it will help your target customers, if you don’t have a way to inform them about it and deliver it to them.

Make sure you know how to acquire customers in a cost effective manner.

Learn how to sell

  • Learn the fundamentals of online marketing and sales.
  • Try to find a mentor to walk you through setting up your marketing funnels and systems. Learn everything you can from the process
  • Watch what others are doing to sell and make money online. Extract the value you can from their processes.
  • Habitually A/B test everything you can.

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You Have No People Skills

You don’t know how to deal with people properly.

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” -Dale Carnegie

Marketing is essential

Human relations is one of the most important skills for an entrepreneur. You must love your fellow man, and show this in every interaction.

You won’t be very successful unless you know how to make people like you. You need to know how to deal with people.

Human relations is about more than conversational skills, it’s about having the kind of charisma that can make a man famous.

Learn how to sell

  • Genuinely care for people. You must take a genuine interest in others.
  • Always smile
  • Make others feel special. Talk to others about themselves, and never about you. If they want to know about you, they’ll ask.
  • Understand that every person is the same thing as you living under different circumstances. Try to understand people, and why they work the way they do.
  • Help make people’s lives better whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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How Did You Do?

This will be an extremely uncomfortable post for some people to read.

If you felt uncomfortable reading any of the above points, go back and read it again. That is probably one that you need to work on.

Building a successful company from scratch is a complicated task.

I hope that these tips help you avoid some of the pitfalls and obstacles that prevent many entrepreneurs from reaching their dreams.

Did I miss anything?

If I missed something, or you still feel like you’re having trouble even after reading this post – I want to help.

Leave a comment below or email me – I’ll help you as much as I can.

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Avatar for Will Mitchell
Will Mitchell

Will Mitchell is a serial entrepreneur and Founder of StartupBros. You can learn more about him at the Startupbros about page. If you have any questions or comments for him, just send an email or leave a comment!

  • Avatar for m88 m88 says:

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  • Avatar for m88 m88 says:

    Nicce response iin return oof this difficulty with real argumeents and describing everything on the topic of that.

  • Avatar for Tim Tim says:

    I’m so glad I came across this website!

    It’s great to actually find some answers after being stuck for so long.

    After reading this, the things for me to focus on are:

    Business Plan
    Investing in my project
    Reaching out more to my target audience (teens) I’ve been getting noticed by adults and teachers though 🙂

    Thanks again guys!


  • Avatar for Gallo Gallo says:

    hey this column is the tits, don’t quit your dayjob

  • Avatar for abbby abbby says:

    can I create my own website and sell products of other people.
    If yes how would be am benefited from this?
    How to promote our website and create traffic on it?

  • Hi Guys – good stuff!

    (At the risk of appearing, err, picky – that is not Michael Gerber in the ‘Your Business Isn’t Scalable’ Testimonial photo)

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