Have you ever wondered why successful companies fail? I’m not talking about going out of business. The type of failure I’m talking about is the failure to grow, or the failure to launch the new whiz-bang idea you were so excited about. Why is it that the new marketing campaign that is successful for hundreds of small businesses is bombing your business? Or, even worse, why is that a reliable campaign suddenly stops working?
What makes good companies — and good ideas — fail?
Of course, there are hundreds of possible answers to this question. But, I want to focus on the trends I’ve seen throughout the years. Here’s why good companies fail.
1. No One Owns The Marketing Campaign
When you have a new product or major initiate, someone needs to own the project. Someone needs to wake up and spend part of their day figuring out how to move that business initiative forward. The larger the initiative, the more of their day they need to spend working on moving it forward. Without an owner, the project will go nowhere fast.
2. The Entrepreneur Is The Bottleneck
When most of us first started our businesses, nothing happened until we did the work. My business exists in part today because I willed it to exist. I busted my rear for 10-18 hours a day, five to seven days a week.
The same is likely true for you. But, as we grow, we actually go from being the best people to get something off the ground to the worst people to get something off the ground. We become the bottleneck. As the company grows, the day-to-day responsibilities of a CEO grow as well. And, because of the growth of those responsibilities, we no longer have the time to focus a majority of our day on any single long-term initiative.
3. Someone Takes Their Eye Off The Ball
I’m very familiar with this one. I have both made this mistake and had others make this mistake and cancel my service. When you have a campaign that’s been working for 12 months or longer and it suddenly stalls, you first need to ask, “Did we make changes to the marketing campaign?”
If the answer is yes, go back to what was working before. If the answer is no, you have to look at changes to your business. Is someone new taking inbound phone calls? Is the same person taking the call, but not using the script? Is morale down for the employee who helps customers? And, in turn, is their performance suffering?
Most entrepreneurs are so quick to blame the campaign that they literally destroy a marketing asset without finding the root cause of the issue. We’ve all made this mistake, but frankly, that’s amateur hour at its finest.
4. The Staff Torpedoed The Marketing Campaign
I hate to say it, but I’ve seen this dozens of times. I even just had it happen to a very nice entrepreneur who wanted to use our service but couldn’t get the team to buy in. So, they abandoned the idea. This can be hard to uncover, but you will stall a business if you allow even one person or the team to kill a project by slow walking it — or simply lying.
It’s your job as the entrepreneur to investigate and use your gut. If you’re working with a company that, from every outside source, appears to be a good, growing company with a solid product or service, and your team is telling you about mistake after mistake, you need to dig a little. Get the facts and make sure someone isn’t ruining your chances. It is more common than most entrepreneurs think. And typically, it is happening with your most trusted team member.
It is easy to blame the idea, a product you purchased, or some other company’s service as to why something failed. It’s even easier to simply cancel the project or service and go look for another new idea to try. But you’re not paid to do easy. You’re paid to find the right answers. You get paid to ensure that marketing idea or new business unit is a success. And, if someone is going to get in the way or not do their job, you need to fix that problem.
The next time a project fails, a marketing campaign bombs, or an idea doesn’t get off the ground, go through the above four points. Make sure none of them are the cause of your failure.