Why Start-Ups Give Up?

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Yesterday one of my clients called me up and told me that she wants to stop with her business. She does no longer believe it will work, and she is thinking about getting a job and going back to more secure employment in one of the larger companies around.

When I asked her what caused that sudden change in direction, she told me that she doesn’t seem to make any progress and there are so many others doing the same than her much more successful. She felt like she will never have a chance to make it in her market.

She’s been also watching hours of videos from all sorts of gurus, showing her how to make it big, how to create a considerable amount of sign-ups on her website, how to attract people to her Facebook group and so on. She tried a few of their tips, but nothing seems to work for her.

Some others tell her, she has to spent money on advertising to make it all happen, and only amateurs try it the old way of spamming Social Media platforms with content with minimal results. But she hasn’t got the money for advertising, and she is worried that it will not work.

These kinds of conversations are not new to me. Most start-ups go through that process, and I know exactly why that happens.

First let me explain, that these are real fears and when you mount one on top of the other it can become a heavy load and often causes this kind of reaction.

The most common reason for this reaction is that we forget the ground rules of any start-up. As I’ve written in one of my previous blogs “The Roles of a Business Owner“, many start-ups tend to fall into one role and completely disregarding the others.

A business consists of 3 different roles: the Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Worker. Each role is vital for the business to grow and survive.

The Entrepreneur is the dreamer, the goal setter, the one who defines the direction and principles of the company.

The Manager is the strategist. He creates the structure, the planning and is in charge of the assignment of resources.

The Worker is the doer. He is the one who works down his task list and does the things that need to be done.

They all need each other and cannot survive on their own. As a single person start-up you’re taking on all three roles, and you need to the best in all three. That means you need to give each role the time and energy to be good.

I always advise to set aside a day per week to be the Entrepreneur. Look for business opportunities, watch the market and understand how it works. Dream big about the possibilities in your market. Go crazy; think big without any restrictions.

I also spent one day a week to be the Manager. Take the dreams and ideas of the entrepreneur and include it in your planning. How many resources will you need to make that dream come true?

What needs to happen?

What do I have available today and where do I need to improve or extend?

List the requirements and action points to be done and pass this on to the worker. His job is to do it.

It sounds relatively simple.

Why is it so hard for some to do just that?

Many tend to think that the worker is the most essential part because, without him, nothing happens. That’s true, but without planning and direction, the worker does not know what to do.

That’s when the worker tries to do anything (that’s his job), looking everywhere for direction and in the end, gets nothing done. That’s the frustration my client feels right now.

The worker is not the right person to decide what needs to be done; that’s the manager’s job. And the manager needs the direction of the entrepreneur.

Falling into that worker trap is what most of those gurus play at. It’s the manager’s job to identify what resources are required to get the job done.

In the end, it is a question of perspective. Each role looks at the same thing from a different angle, and you need those angles to get the full picture. If you look at it from one side, you’re missing a lot of information and opportunity.

This morning my client and I had a meeting, and we reactivated the entrepreneur and the manager. She remembered why she started the business in the first place, and her motivation slowly returned.

We slipped into the role of manager and created a game plan for the next three months with clear goals and checkpoints in place. Now the worker knows what to do, is motivated again and eager to get things done.

It’s nice to see people smile.

Which role are you playing today?

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium, this site is run by John di Stefano, teaching and supporting entrepreneurs to learn the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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