Home Business Jumpstart Tips Series: Beating the Home Business Failure Odds

Jun 07, 2022 3:31 pm

Beating the Home Business Failure Odds


Looking at the home business survival statistics can be disheartening, so how do you overcome the odds of failure?

When I started my home business back in 2007, I had tons of people try to discourage me by quoting the dismal failure statistics of small businesses. 18.4 percent fail within the first year, that number jumps to 49.7 percent by the fifth year and jumps again to a whopping 65.5 percent by year 10. Scary numbers. 

Luckily, I didn’t have the option of letting those numbers scare me away from starting my business. It was try to make it work or live out of my car at the time. I’m sure that plenty of people who aren’t in that type of situation get discouraged and those numbers keep them from following their dream of home business ownership. I’m here to encourage you and tell you that those numbers are just that...numbers. Don’t let statistics like that keep you from following your dreams.  

How can I say that? Aren’t those statistics true?  

Yes, they are true. In fact, as I was preparing to write this newsletter I did a bit of research into some of the virtual assistant businesses that started around the same time mine did and there are only a couple still in business today. Honestly, some days I’m shocked that my little business is still going strong when some of those others, that I thought were so much more profitable than mine, are long gone. What did I do differently?  

Without talking to all of those other business owners I can’t say for sure, but I can share with you what I’ve done over the years to overcome struggles. 

Re-access what you’re offering periodically.  

During my second year in business, I came dangerously close to burning out. I had three retainer clients and an occasional project client or two at the time, yet I was constantly working. My client work kept me so busy that I had to work nights and weekends on my own business needs. When I realized this, I took a long, hard look at the services I was providing.  

Several of them were extremely time-consuming. I knew that if I kept providing those services, not only couldn’t I take proper care of my own business, but I also couldn’t take on new clients. That meant no growth, no increase in income, and eventual failure of my business. I made the difficult decision to drop those services completely. I was honest with my clients when I announced the change and although it did mean losing one client, it was the best decision for my business at the time.  

Over the years I’ve done this same re-assessment several times with success. 

Add something new

In 2010 people started contacting me to ask who had created my website. As a self-proclaimed geek girl, I’d built websites for myself, friends, and family for years, starting out with Microsoft Frontpage (yes, I’m that old) and graduating to WordPress for my business website in 2009. After tons of contact form inquiries, I realized that adding WordPress website creation services might be a wise decision. 

I was right. 

Today, a large portion of my business is WordPress website-related. Maintaining a successful business means recognizing opportunities to add something new. Over my 15 years in business, I’ve consistently added new services. Things like online course assistance and online event assistance were added after I’d created several of my own. And my coaching services were added after years of teaching and giving advice to others.  

Seeing the profitability in the things that you have learned or created for your own business helps you determine just what new thing might make the most sense for you.

Firing clients

Home business owners work so hard to get clients that the mere thought of firing one tends to strike fear into their hearts.  As hard as it is, hanging on to clients that aren’t working for you hurts your business rather than helping it. Whether the client is a micro-manager who sucks up time by requiring several check-ins per day or one that goes silent for weeks and then pops in with a list of things they need to be done yesterday, bad clients can suck the life out of your home business. If a client isn’t working out, smart business owners gently explain that the relationship isn’t a ‘fit’ and move on. Culling out the difficult clients leaves you room in your schedule to take on more of your ideal clients.  

Take care of business

If you’re spending so much time creating products or delivering services that you struggle to do things like invoice, blog, or update your own website it’s eventually going to catch up with you. Ignoring the needs of your own business is a sure-fire step toward business failure.  

Always schedule a time to take care of your own business. Not at night, not on the weekends, but as part of your normal work hours. Never fill your schedule with client or customer work. Always allow time to do what needs to be done for your own home business. 

Rest & Relax

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating because I honestly believe it’s one of the keys to my own success. Don’t become a workaholic. Be sure you’re sticking to a work schedule that doesn’t include tons of overtime. Take off your weekends and holidays. Find ways to enjoy the summer even if you don’t feel you can take a vacation. (See a previous newsletter for ideas of how to accomplish this)

Burnout will kill your business faster than anything else. The importance of time to rest and relax can’t be understated. 

Sure, those statistics we talked about earlier can be scary but that doesn’t mean your home business will end up being one of those statistics.  I truly believe my home business is still going strong because early on I embraced the fact that I’m the boss, and as such, I need to do what’s best for my business. Not what’s best for clients, not what’s best according to so-called experts, but what is best for me and my unique business. If you do the same, I guarantee the odds of your business not only surviving but thriving will outweigh those frightening statistics.


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