the ceo magazine
Suzanne Evans

So you decided to seize your dream and start your own business. Unfortunately, your fledgling company is losing altitude fast. Despite putting in the work, you’re not seeing the profits. No matter how much you scour profit-and-loss statements, analyze your data, tweak your advertising, encourage your employees, or suck up to potential clients, you can’t move the needle. It feels hopeless, like the Universe is conspiring against you.

Before you throw in the towel, though, hear some “tough love” advice: Your problem isn’t bad luck, bad breaks, bad people, or even a bad economy. It’s you.

Before you can hope to change your company’s fortunes, you have to first change yourself. Business acumen doesn’t matter as much as who you are and how you play the game.

Here, I share 10 truths to help you get started:

The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Stop telling yourself that “good enough” is acceptable or that the little things don’t matter. It’s not and they do. It’s all those little details that add up to who you are.

Emotions are worthless. Emotions really don’t do you any favors when you’re trying to launch and grow a business. If your motivation and enthusiasm are tied to feeling the warm-and-fuzzies, you’re dead in the water, because there are a lot of disappointments and challenges ahead—even if your business is on the path to ultimate success.

You only think you’re a special snowflake (and that belief is why you’re failing). Stop using your “differences” to justify your lack of success. Rather than fixate on what’s holding you back and pay attention to beliefs and habits that can help you achieve your goals.

Playing it safe is for wimps. A lot of entrepreneurs accept mediocrity in order to preserve the status quo. They aren’t willing to gamble the way things are for the way they’d like them to be.

Hello! That’s why you aren’t getting ahead! Yes, taking a chance at failing might feel scary—but often, that’s the only way to succeed.

You don’t have what it takes to do it all. You don’t have what it takes to run a business singlehandedly. Ultimately, you’re going to have to take a leap of faith. Hire the smartest, most capable people you can (even if you’re convinced they aren’t as smart as you!) and trust them to support you. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

There is no such thing as “right” and “wrong.” Thinking about your business in terms of right/wrong, good/bad, pass/fail isn’t helpful. There is no failsafe way forward; everything is a lesson waiting to be learned. Stop worrying about getting it right or doing it wrong. Throw the rules out the window and do what you think is best for your business.

Yes, you can spend your way to success. Sometimes, money—more money than you’re comfortable spending—is what it takes to jolt your business out of the mediocrity rut. I’ve overinvested and overspent on my business many times over the years. When I saw opportunities from sponsorship to hiring, I grabbed them, regardless of whether the expense was “prudent” or success was guaranteed. And I’ve rarely had any regrets.

The world needs to know your ugly stepsister story. Tell the ugly stepsister, warped version of your story. It’s the best thing you can use to encourage your clients to find their own success. People will connect to your mess and your pain, and they’ll want to do business with you.

You don’t know as much as you think you do. You can’t be merely good at what you do; you need to be excellent and maintain your excellence by continuously studying your craft. If you don’t actively seek to develop and deepen your skill set, you are severely limiting yourself.

Goofing off will help you succeed. When you’re bootstrapping a business, it can feel like you’re constantly under the tyranny of the to-do list. Taking a break, taking your eye off the prize, or even (brace yourself) taking a vacation seems like outright blasphemy. Do it anyway. You’ll always do your best work when you’re relaxed, happy, and experiencing new things, not when you’re exhausted and stressed.

Every success I have had, and every success you will have, is a reflection of your ability to expand your knowledge, to change your approach, and to adapt. In other words, your business is you. So it’s time to face the truth and get on track.


About the Author

Suzanne Evans is the author of The Way You Do Anything Is the Way You Do Everything: The Why of Why Your Business Isn’t Making More Money (Wiley, February 2014, ISBN: 978-1-118-71426-3, $22.00, She is also owner and founder of, the “tell-it-like-it-is,” no-fluff boss of business building. She provides support, consult, and business development skills to the over 30,000 women enrolled in her wealth and business building programs.


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