Image by Lukas Bieri from Pixabay 

Are you not going the places you want to go in business?

Maybe you are reading this article for a “friend” who isn’t getting the success they want.

No matter which is the case I bet I know why you (or…your friend) aren’t getting where you want to go. And I bet it’s one of the eight items in this article.

How do I know this?

There’s rarely a day goes by that somebody doesn’t show me some aspect of their business plan wanting my help. It might be a text message, telephone call, an email, a LinkedIn message or some combination thereof. People are constantly reaching out to me about their business plans.

Why? Because business planning and execution is my business. I’ve been at it for decades.

I’m not telling you this to impress you. I’m not telling you so you think I’m cool. I’m telling you this because I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly in business plans. Years of experience have allowed me to piece together, from thousands of business plans, what works and what doesn’t work.

This article is for you. You, the reader (or maybe the friend of the reader) who isn’t getting the results that they want. I want to show you why.

This article will show you eight of the most common reasons why you aren’t getting where you want to get to in business.

I recommend you read this article and be brutally honest with yourself. Use the eight items as a checklist. Most of you will find you are failing at more than one of these categories.

If you are honest with yourself and you see that you’re missing something in this article you really got one or two choices: (1) keep spinning your wheels or (2) fix it. I’m hoping this is going to help you lift to the next level in your business and life.

So let’s jump into it.

This is what is five decades of experience has shown me as the common failure point of so many businesses and business plans.

1. You Don’t Know Who You Are

This sounds so simple but yet it’s so fundamental. So many of the people that I encounter that are struggling with business don’t understand who they are. That lack of understanding may be at a personal level or it may be at a business level.

If you’re the business owner, or even if you’re a leader of the segment of the business, the business needs to reflect you and your personality. When I work with my clients I call it your way to “Do Business Differently™”. It’s your way to show your uniqueness in business. Those of you who know me know that Do Business Differently™ is core to my brand because you’ll see me wearing unusual suits to drive home the concept for my audiences and clients.

For most of the readers wearing unusual suits is not going to make sense in their business. However, finding your personality and style and reflecting it in the core of the business and your actions is going to make a lot of sense.

You need to know what works for you. What types of marketing fit your personality style? What are the core values of your business? Who are you?

The more you know yourself and can understand your personality style, what’s your uniqueness and what value you add to the world, the better your business is going to get. Ultimately as you scale your business (a key to success) you’ll want to channel yourself into your areas of greatness. But you can’t start that if you don’t know who you are.

There are a number of ways to figure out who you are. One of them is through personality assessments. And there’s a lot of tools out there. (If that will help you there’s a link below to my Personality Assessments Done Right YouTube Channel in the “Resources” section at the end of this article.)

Another way to figure out who you are is through good old-fashioned experimentation. Try different things in your business and see what resonates with you. Do more things. Start eliminating the things that don’t inspire you or suck your energy.

And while I believe most businesses should reflect the core values and personality of the owners, the business also needs to have its own identity. That means a business needs to stand on its own. It needs to have core values and a personality too.

Many of the businesses I see struggling do not reflect a unique personality or style. They’re lost in the traffic of all the other business out there. Just another consulting firm, law firm, accounting firm, marketing firm, etc. Fill in the blank with whichever industry you’re in and I bet there’s a lot of people who don’t show their uniqueness in any meaningful way. That means customers don’t know why to buy from them. Even worse customers don’t know why to pick them over competitors or why to pay them a premium.

You’ve got to find your style and uniqueness so that you can work at your most efficient. And you need to make sure the market understands the value you add.

2. Your Systems Suck!

Let’s face it. Your business systems probably suck.

I mean they’re bad.

And you’re not alone. My experience is that the vast majority of businesses, particularly small businesses, have bad systems.

I get it. It’s hard to build systems for a small business. Each system seems to have infrastructure and maintenance cost to both implement and maintain. And if you don’t have enough traffic flowing through the door a lot of systems don’t make sense.

Let’s at this from the other side though. What does that look like to a customer? When a customer calls and doesn’t get a warm answer from a receptionist? When your emails take forever to get responded to because you’re busy on a project?

And what about your existing clients? They’re not getting the answers that they want or the way they want. Maybe one project went great and the next project doesn’t turn out nearly as good. Now your customer doesn’t doesn’t know what to expect or who you really are.

So if this is ringing a bell you probably need help in the systems space. You need to figure out how to get more consistent in what you’re doing and how you can use that to project the right image.

There’s nothing wrong with being small in business. And more and more big companies or understanding the value of doing business with specialized small businesses. However, you still need to get the systems and processes down to keep everything flowing right.

3. You Allow The Wrong People In Your Life

Allowing the wrong people into your life is a huge issue that most people don’t want to face. For many people that aren’t getting where they want to go they have allowed the wrong people to remain in their life. These wrong people could be in many places and hold you back.

The wrong person could be a close loved one. It could be a parent, a husband or wife, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a friend. A lot of times people don’t realize that the people close to them are holding them back because the damage and impact isn’t fully noticed in one moment. It might be the veiled comments that keep taking your energy such as “your business won’t make it”  or “ are you sure that’s going to work?” or it might be with these loved ones don’t allow you to put the time and energy into your business.

For some people the wrong people are friends that just suck their energy up or waste their time. It’s often the case that the people who are not successful don’t want to see their friends or loved ones become successful. Why? Because they don’t want to lose their friend or loved one. It’s really their insecurities that’s holding you back.

A lot of experts talk about who you are closest friends are. You’ll hear it from Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn and others. And I think this is important to examine who your friends are. What norms are they setting? Generally you want hard-working, smart and successful people around you. You don’t want people who are lazy, unwilling to do the work, or constantly dwelling in their failure.

Cleaning house and changing the people in your life can have a dramatic impact on your outcomes. It’s critical that you understand this. It’s like letting go of an anchor. But you have to do the work to put the right people in and get the wrong people out. It takes a lot of effort.

The wrong people in your life, regardless of where they come from or how close you are to them, will drain your energy. It will keep you from being the best version of yourself.

Many times when I see people who are struggling for success, particularly the bright and driven people that are trying to do the hard work, they have the wrong people around them in life.

Take a hard examination of who is around you, how they’re using your energy, and whether they’re really being supportive of your success.

4. You Aren’t Good Enough Yet

One of the hardest issues to face about why your business might not be taking off is because you just may not be good enough yet. In today’s business world you often need to be good in many different areas in order to be successful.

There was a day and time we’re just being a great lawyer, accountant or other professional would lead people to send you referrals. Or maybe they look you up in the phone book and find your office. The way it’s been explained to me is that in the old days if you were just good business would find you.

Fast forward to today. Now in most cases you not only have to be great at your core competency but you have to be good at something else too. You may have to do articles, YouTube videos or speak in person – in addition to whatever your core business is. Maybe it’s media appearances, shaking hands at parties, or doing general networking activities. It’s a lot to keep up with.

More and more I hear business owners saying they have to do a lot to build their business. A lot of pieces have to come together in the right combination. Maybe you just haven’t hit the tipping point on being good enough at what you need to do to be highly successful. A paragraph for studying the success of others what I have noticed is that for many businesses and business owners there’s a sort of critical mass a certain point where they’re so good that business starts coming to them.

The other thing to remember is business these days is often winner take off. Customers look at many different businesses and they’re comparing you to competitors not just in your local geography. So some people are reaping all of the business because they keep winning the competition among their competitors while the person sitting in spot number two or number three might be very strong at what they’re doing they’re just winning a disproportionately low number of opportunities because number one is taking the cake.

So, for some people that are struggling to get where they want to go and business the key is to keep refining an improvement. Push through the dark days of not getting the business or the feedback you want to become truly the best. And what shows likely find is when you make that breakthrough to be good enough you’re suddenly have a lot of business and a lot of opportunities.

5. You Don’t Understand Partnerships

I’m a big fan of partnerships. I love them and I know they have helped a lot of businesses. And it’s something I spend a lot of time on in my legal practice and in my consulting business.

Why am I so passionate about partnerships?

Because I know they can change your business world. The truth is none of us are an island. There’s not one business out there that doesn’t rely on other businesses and people to get things done. All of us are connected.

Some business owners are scared of partnerships. This is often because they’ve heard horror stories of partnerships gone bad or warnings from lawyers. And there is validity to this. There are risks in partnerships.

However, partnerships can provide exponential growth opportunities. Partnerships done right off can lead to exponential business. Why is that? Because you can combine and blend skills with another person (or people) in a way where 1+1=3. And that’s a good thing for you and your customers. It allows you to have a more powerful offer.

Let’s look at the evidence. Many of today’s largest businesses were partnerships in their early days. Think of Microsoft, Google, Apple and many other large companies. They used skills of different people together to lay the foundation and build something bigger than what any one person could have done alone.

While partnerships need to be carefully entered into and properly negotiated. Blanket avoidance of partnerships is a big mistake. When appropriate, they should be leveraged and leveraged correctly.

For many businesses I see struggling out there an appropriate partnership could lead to greater success. Many businesses are missing something that they could add to the business. And in many cases that team is a business partner.

6. Your Follow-Through Is Junk

For many businesses that aren’t getting where they want to go I find that their follow-through or ability to complete things is complete bad. This is hard to say and hard to admit but it’s so very true. You need to have follow through in business.

This might relate to bad systems which we discussed in an earlier section. It also may just be laziness, a tiredness from doing the wrong things, or not focusing energy in the right places. But if you’re going to be successful in business you need to have followed through.

I’ve known businesses that work so hard to find new clients and customers that by the time the new client or customer comes in the door the business owner and leadership are exhausted and they can’t put the proper resources on servicing a client. This is what I’m talking about with bad follow-through.

It might also be a misaligned follow-through. You might be attracting one type of customer and then servicing them wrong. You’ve really got a blend these two things together the right way. You want to attract the customer that matches the product or service that you’re providing. We’ve seen many businesses where the person attracted doesn’t exactly align with the product or service delivered on the back end.

Or maybe you’re just forgetting things or losing opportunities. Regardless of how or why it’s happening we need to make sure that everything in your business is dealt with intentional action. Make sure that regardless of what is going on that every lead is followed up to completion, turned into a customer or the file is closed.

Similarly, on the operational side every file should be progressing, monitored or closed. There’s really no place for things to go. Either you’re working on it, you’re checking it or you’re finished with it.

Go take a look through a your follow through and see if you’re leaving money on the table.

7. You Are Looking Up To The Wrong People

Another issue is not getting where you want to go in business is looking up to the wrong people. We see this a lot. There are a lot of business gurus or famous people in the business world that have extreme behavior, different thoughts on business or strange philosophies.

And while we can all learn from each other, comparing to other people or looking up to the wrong people can be a real problem. This is especially true if you question the values and the judgments of the people you look up to. Do you really want to be completely like the person that you admire?

It’s a deeper question than most people want to dive into. Perhaps they want the success and trappings of the person but maybe they don’t want to work the hundred plus hour weeks that the person they admired does indeed work.

This is hard in our society. because we don’t see everything going on behind the scenes. That’s particularly true in today’s day and age with the advent and use of social media. But we typically get to see is the” good” of a person without getting to see all of the work, failure or toil that went into the success.

Maybe your celebrity dream life looks great on TV or social media. But what if getting there involves changing our sleep schedules, not seeing your family and tons of stress and destruction. Is it worth the price?

If we’re going to look up to somebody and model their behavior we need to make sure that it’s consistent with our worldviews and the lives we want. We are all very unique. And because of the blend of extreme behavior, habits or other quirks work really really well for one person who had extreme success in the business world doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for us.

The truth is for most of us, unless we just want to copy somebody else and take the good and the bad of the way they live, is it we’re going to have to come up with our own blend. We can’t look up to people who are not consistent with who we want to be.

You might be feeling frustration angst or other negative emotions because of these inconsistencies. Make sure you’re looking up to, modeling admiring those that are consistent with how you want to be an act. Otherwise you are going to be in a cycle of frustration.

8. You Lack Self-Control

Another reason you might be falling behind or not getting where you want to get to in business is that you lack self-control. The most successful people tend to have very high threshold of self-control. They simply are very focused on certain activities and they know how to keep themselves channeled on what’s important to their future.

Many of those struggling to be successful are losing time, energy and effort in areas where they shouldn’t be putting in that time, energy and effort. I’m talking about hobbies and interests and activities away from your business that are not productive (and not worth the time for the amount of relaxation and rejuvenation received). For many people this is drinking, watching TV or other idle activities which take away from their productivity.

For others self-control might take a different form. It might be the inability to say “no” to bad things, eliminate the wrong people from their lives or otherwise get themselves focused on their outcome.

The truth is in this modern world we have to deal with a lot and those that are highly successful typically don’t have others building a structure for them. You have to build a structure to your life that works for you and do the work. Which means you need a lot of self-control and dedication to keep yourself focused.

It also means need to monitor things like your attitude and your general well-being. Many people don’t get where they want to go because minor things turn into major things. For instance, some people don’t control their diet during the growth of their business. They are so focused on the business that they eat whatever and damage their own health.

You need to focus on the things that are important. You’re also going to have to deal with setbacks and difficulties with your business. And you’re not always going to get what you want.

For many people that are struggling to get what they want in business it’s because they lacked self-control to do the work.

There it is. Eight things that are probably holding you back from the success you want. From my experience working on thousands of business plan I can almost guarantee you that you’re lacking success one of these eight things is likely at play.

Blame It On The At-at-at-a-a-a-attitude…..

Do you really want to step things up to the next level?

If so, get me my FREE guide “Planning In Light of A Changing Future” by clicking here.


Personality Assessments Done Right(™) YouTube Channel – Check out this YouTube Channel for details on how to use personality assessments in your business.

FREE preview copy of Business Blunders! – This is my first book and it looks at common business mistakes that I’ve seen in my years of working with business owners. This will allow you to avoid those issues in your business!

And a little Thank You?

If you like this article can you leave a clap for it on

This was originally posted at the blog. You can subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.


  • The Our Shawn McBride

    Making Plans for the Future Economy

    The Our Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer of McBride For Business, LLC, the Managing Member of The R. Shawn McBride Law Firm, PLLC and the host of the Financial Transactions of the Future Economy™ Show on the McBride For Business YouTube Channel. He works with organizations to develop their plans to capitalize on the future economy. He is the author of Business Blunders on avoiding common business mistakes, It’s About Time on Time Magicment™ and What Your Business Needs to Know NOW about Blockchain. When you see The Our Shawn in person you’ll know him in a second - he is normally wearing unusual suits the embrace the message of Do Business Differently™ because he believes finding your uniqueness is a key to business success. When not writing you’ll find Shawn speaking and consulting on topics related to Financial Transactions of the Future Economy™.