Why Your Business Ideas Aren’t Working

By ensuring that your goals are S.M.A.R.T, you set yourself up to experience the thrill of an achievement that will become a motivation for future successes.

Did you know that you can give 110% effort and fail miserably, even with a good business idea?

I’ve seen it more times than I can count. An eager entrepreneur has a brilliant idea and quickly forges ahead, only to come back disappointed that things did not work out.

By the time they come to that realization, they have likely invested a lot of money, energy and time that they will never get back.

Entrepreneurs going through this experience usually assume that they are simply not cut out for entrepreneurship.

It is at this point that I dig a little deeper into their execution process and I find that the real problem was that the idea or goal was underdeveloped, leading to poor execution. It was a set-up for failure from the start.

I then have the task of talking the entrepreneur off the ledge by explaining that there may have been nothing wrong with their effort, resources or intentions. The reason for the apparent failure was likely that the goal was an inherently bad goal.

When it comes to execution in business, a good goal is not just noble in its intention, but it also S.M.A.R.T.

It is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Ensuring that your goal meets these criteria increases the likelihood of success.

It eliminates wasted time and hones in on the best strategy for success.

Specific goals break down your general goals into manageable pieces so that they are easier to achieve. A great example of this might be to increase your annual revenue.

“Increase revenue in 2019” is a noble general goal.

An even better goal is to “increase revenue in 2019 by identifying profit leaks and creating monthly marketing campaigns in order to obtain new clients.”

Using that example, it’s easy to see how an entrepreneur can go from casting a wide net and taking a chance on what sticks, to identifying a specific strategy for success.

Even that specific goal can be further developed as you think about other factors that will affect the outcome.

By adding metrics and changing the goal to “increase revenue by 40% in 2019, by identifying profit leaks and creating monthly marketing campaigns in order to obtain new clients,” the direction and initial action steps are even clearer.

This way, there is little room for wasted resources and time.

The attainable and realistic factors in the S.M.A.R.T. formula are subjective factors determined by the individual’s readiness to start working on their goals.

An entrepreneur who does not have a marketing budget needs to first raise the money or create a budget for marketing before embarking on the goal above.

Without a budget for a robust campaign, attempting to increase revenue by creating marketing campaigns will prove futile.- @andrena_sawyer Click To Tweet

It seems obvious enough, but many entrepreneurs still do not count the cost before they set their foot on the pavement.

The last piece of the formula is timeliness. This ensures that the person setting the goal has a sense of urgency and can fend off complacency when working toward their goal.

It is easy to overlook this final piece, but it is just as critical as the others because it has two extremes: too much time allotted for the goal, and not enough time.

When there is too much time, it is easy to fall into traps of procrastination and complacency. These are traps that force individuals to believe they have more time to do the work than they actually do.

They lose their sense of urgency, which opens the door for others to leverage their ideas, or for a competitor to get to a product launch before they do. The other extreme is not to give yourself enough time.

No goal is perfect, and neither is every process, and there is room for imperfection. – @andrena_sawyer Click To Tweet

By rushing toward the goal, entrepreneurs stand the risk of sabotaging by not properly assessing the risks and all of the factors necessary for success.

After all, there’s value for the entrepreneur in trial and error and even failure.

However, by ensuring that your goals are S.M.A.R.T., you set yourself up to experience the thrill of achievement that will become a motivation for future successes.

Vulnerability: Your key to smashing goals this year

To be Vulnerable means to be open to all of life’s experiences Click To Tweet

Ours is a generation of people striving to make their lives look perfect all the time. We post pictures, we update our statuses, we buy new things with the idea that maybe if it looks perfect enough, it will start to feel perfect.  

We don’t know how to handle feelings of uncertainty, unworthiness, loss, heartbreak; so we post more pictures and look even more perfect…sounds familiar right?

Our inability to accept the messiness of life, the ‘imperfection in ourselves’ and the fact that sometimes we’re all just little kids trying to make friends on the playground has affected our quality of life and our ability to truly engage with each other.

The average 20-something- year- old knows exactly how much money they want to earn, by what age they should be married, how many kids they intend to have, where those kids will go to school…all this with a flat tummy, gorgeous skin and long natural hair!

It’s a lot on any one’s plate and has made life this series of ‘check-list moments’. It’s no wonder new year’s resolutions have been given a bad rap over the years, it stopped being about ‘the magic of new beginnings, the chance to hit the refresh button and start all over again’, and instead started being about self-reprimand, self-hate, and comparison to others.

In her brilliant book, “Daring Greatly”, Brene’ Brown explores how striving to achieve your goals requires an openness to being vulnerable. The ability to stand up and say, “January hit me hard, I wasn’t prepared for some of the things life threw at me, I missed the mark and now, I must start afresh”, can affect your quality of life and ability to truly engage with other people.

Our generation is afraid of vulnerability, and for good reason, we’ve all been told we are too much of something to achieve something bigger than ourselves; too short, too fat, too loud, too broke, etc,  and as a result, more and more people are afraid to even try, and those that do, are afraid to try at things that really matter- those big hairy audacious goals.  

According to Brene’, “Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness, will we be closer to the infinite power of our light”. To be Vulnerable means to be open to all of life’s experiences from a place of worthiness and self-love, not self-hate.

You are enough! Click To Tweet

Vulnerability is:

  • Starting over after that first business failed.
  • Speaking up about your relationships so that every abuse you experienced is never repeated.
  • Asking for more money, time, attention…if it is what will fulfill your needs.
  • Saying no to anyone who crosses the boundaries set in your relationship.
  • Committing to going to the gym after having fallen off your ideal weight.
  • Asking for help.
  • Presenting your product to the world and getting no response.
  • Having faith.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to love after a major heartbreak.
  • Admitting you do not know what to do, and then looking for the answer.
  • Letting go of some people because your business cannot afford it.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is about acknowledging discomfort and then using it in a positive way to enhance your life experience.  A few keys to enhancing your ability to manage vulnerability and therefore better able to live a wholehearted life are;


1. Be open

Sometimes the goals you want to achieve won’t be achieved in the exact path you expected, but it will always be worth it. You have to keep your heart and mind open to new ideas, a new career, new employers etc when it’s required.

2. Dare to show up

No matter how uncomfortable, unqualified or unprepared you might think you are, always show up. Your current life isn’t a dress rehearsal for your next life! If it’s important to you, you must show up.

3. Set and respect your boundaries

Set boundaries for your time, space and relationships, and after you’ve set your boundaries, respect them. Your goals this year are yours to achieve.

Vulnerability is being able to let other people know when they have crossed boundaries that you never intended to be crossed.

4. Wholehearted living

According to Brene’ Brown, wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. Too many people don’t think they are worthy of love, attention, support, promotion etc. This lack of self-love manifests itself in a myriad of ways that lead to people sabotaging the great things in their lives.

As you go about the business of achieving your goals this year, you must believe that you are worthy of all you are striving for. You are enough. You are enough. You are enough.

For the times when being vulnerable seems like the hardest thing to do, turn to the immortal words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

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5 lessons learned from not protecting my business idea

WOCinTech chat

I am part of an entrepreneurial Facebook group (we’re now over 7,000 members strong). Let’s divide the group into two; techies and non techies. One of the most asked question by the non techies is, “I have an idea for an app and I’m looking for a developer. How I can I protect my idea?” In order words, how do I prevent a developer from running off with my idea, claiming it as his own, working on the idea himself and making millions of dollar off it? The response is usually the same; make him/her sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This question always reminds me of my own experience with my second developer which I will share with you.

I first met him in the summer of 2014. I got to know he was a developer during our introduction but I was still poking around my idea so I said nothing. Over the next few weeks, our friendship grew. When I had figured out exactly what I wanted to do, I gave him a call and discussed my idea briefly. I also told him I wanted to build a small team; no more than four -including both of us. He said he could help with this.

The next time we spoke, he informed me that one of the developers he had available was going to work for Google and would not be available. The other developer was working on a project. He advised me that the best way was to get started with just the two of us . In the meantime, he wanted a one page Word document about my idea. I wrote a one and half page explanation of my idea and emailed it to him -without a non disclosure agreement. For many other reasons, it all fell apart. We never got started; neither did I ever speak with his developer friends. Here is what I have learnt since then;

1. Execution is all that matters

Ideas are like opinions. Everyone has one. I know that’s not how the saying goes but you catch my drift right? Do you realize how many million people are in the world? Do you know how many million people are thinking of the same idea you are thinking of? Well, I’ll put it this way then. A person can steal your idea, but cannot steal your vision. Like the non techies in the group, I was afraid of my idea being stolen that I became worried sick, almost lost appetite and drove myself crazy with paranoia for no reason. Do you know how much willpower it takes to execute an idea? Even if your idea is stolen, the execution will be different. No two executions are quite alike.

2. You are the visionary

As the non techie, if your idea holds any depth, meaning, you’re not looking to make a quick buck. You truly want effect change in a particular industry and change the world, you are the visionary. As the visionary, it is likely that you’re more committed than anyone else will ever be. As it is right now, I am mentally, physically, wholeheartedly committed to OneSavvyDollar and creating value for my readers in ways I cannot even begin to describe to you.

3. Domain protection

I have always been an advocate of getting a good business name and buying the domain name. It is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your business. Most companies run domain name promotions periodically. Even if the developer steals my idea tomorrow, surely, it will never be named OneSavvyDollar. He is going to have to pick a different name.

4. Ideas change upon implementation

Until you actually begin to implement an idea, you never quite know how it will turn out. What I wrote as a one page document does not even begin to surmount to the changes and challenges my developers and I faced the moment we started working on this. But an idea does not necessarily stay in its original form from inception. The interesting part, the idea continues to change because I let my users guide me to what they want (to a reasonable extent.). You can only understand this when you begin to match action to words.

5. A rule is only as good as its enforceability

It’s one thing to have a non disclosure. It’s another thing to be able to be able to pursue it should there be any violations. We watch movies and believe the rules apply all the time. But it doesn’t quite happen that way. In the case of the Face book lawsuit between the Winklevoss twins and Mark Zuckerberg, the Winklevoss twins had the resources. Here are five fast facts about them:

  • They were born in South Hampton and lived in Greenwich (read as ritzy areas).
  • They attended Harvard.
  • They are Olympians and competed in Beijing 2008.
  • Their father is a professor at Wharton, an author and entrepreneur. He owns a technology and consultancy companies.
  • They hired a high power law firm.

Can you understand now what I mean by resources? Truthfully, you most likely do not have the luxury of the time or the resources to pursue developer should the idea become a hit; particularly, if you are the sole business owner. Don’t forget it’s a game of probability; an idea could either be successful or not. If Facebook wasn’t successful, they never would have bothered.