Staying the Course: Stick to Your Knitting

When you launch a new business you’re fueled by passion and belief in your concept. Your excitement in the new venture continues as you complete the start-up activities and develop your product or service. Your resolve is strong as you sort through and select options for marketing your product. You’re building momentum during your first round of sales to your family and friends.

Then things get quiet. New sales are s-l-o-w. You examine everything you’re doing and vow to do more. You increase your hours in a flurry of activity. One more blog entry a week, one more article submission, one more EMAIL campaign, ten more Linkedin connections, but sales aren’t growing.

Fear starts to set in as your imagination starts to work overtime. It’s at this stage so many entrepreneurs start down the path to failure. Panic sets in and they find themselves:

    1. Throwing money at it
    2. Spending more hours doing it
    3. Spending most of the day churning
    4. Building another product or adding another service
    5. Starting another business
    6. Giving up

Taking any of those actions while you’re in that state of mind isn’t a good idea. Before you do anything or give in to panic take a deep breath and write out the worst case scenario.

Most often the fear is related to money. If that’s the case, address it right now.  If you were depending on sales from this business to support you at this stage, perhaps you need to get a part-time job or reduce your living expenses.

If you need more money than what you put in your business plan, but crowdsourcing isn’t an option, and you’re considering taking on debt, taking it out of your savings or 401K – please talk to a trusted advisor first.  If you’ve set up an advisory board of people who want you to succeed and who will tell you what they think and not what you want to hear, go talk to one of them. If you haven’t, it’s a great time to start one. The US Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov, operates SCORE, a volunteer force of retired business owners and former executives who are willing to help.

Figure out your ONE next step. What do you need to do today to address your worse case scenario and keep your business open?  Focus on doing just that.

We all have moments of doubt and I dare say that most entrepreneurs have experienced moments of crippling fear. Just get past the moment. You might not realize it but you’ve done the hard part, now just “stick to your knitting” and when you drop a stitch, pick it up and keep going.

You CAN do this.

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.

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