Dear Aunty B,
I am stuck. My business barely breaks even and I can’t see it growing in the short term. One of the problems is the uneducated marketplace – I just can’t get them to see the potential of my product.
I have about five staff and feel like it is all too much time and too much out of me. I am stressed and getting health problems.
I would give up, but there is a part of me that still believes in the company’s potential. How do I know if I am muddling along in a deluded state and should quit or if I am in fact a pioneer whose time has not yet come and I just need to be resilient?
Well, have you considered that you might in fact be a muddling delusional pioneer whose time has not yet come? Huh? Not considered that??
Because that is exactly what you sound like. And there are dangers in this position.
First thing: You need to stop right now and step away from the business for a week to try and get some perspective. In those few days, arrange to meet with several smart business people and talk to them.
Line up some large businesses that might be a potential buyer and get their perspective on the market. Ask them what they might buy – that can be a remarkable way of getting ideas for product development. Lastly line up customers and really listen to what they want.
Research your industry and draw a map. What are potential customers using now? What are the trends? Can your product be any more relevant now? What will make them migrate to your product? How do you capitalise on that? What marketing do you need to do to make them migrate faster? What special deals might work? What partnerships do you need to put in place to reach the target market faster?
You must promise yourself in this exercise that you will really listen. Take along a business partner/adviser. And don’t seek out people who will tell you want you want to hear. If the market doesn’t actually want your product as it is now, then take that on board and work out what to do next.
Whatever you do, if the business isn’t working, don’t feed yourself tales of pioneers and resilience. Take action. Resilience is a great quality; but make sure it is not masking ignorance or strategic indecision.
There is no point trying to see light at the end of the tunnel if there is none. And there is no point muddling along, stressing your body. Your greatest asset is actually your health!
Your Aunty B.