When you start your own business, you’re full of optimism—because you don’t know what you don’t know.  Then, as you build your business, your optimism fades bit by bit.  

After a few setbacks, you question your vision.   

After a few more setbacks, you notice with some alarm that you’ve stopped making progress. You’re working longer hours just to stay in the same place. Then, as you fatigue, you lose your initial gains. 

How can you make progress in your startup after you’ve passed the honeymoon stage and slammed into a few brick walls? Here are some ideas to help you get back on track:

Get Creative 

While you might have adopted a good business model, remember that other people are doing the same thing or at least something similar. Since your more successful competitors have been in business longer, they’ve figured out what works and have stopped making beginner’s mistakes. While you can’t compete on experience, you can differentiate your business. If you do things more efficiently, you’ll limit the number of competitors. So, get creative and figure out how to improve the quality of your services. 

Here’s an example: 

You’re a real estate agent. You’re also superb at building rapport with people and closing sales. You even have several gorgeous properties you can show potential buyers. Unfortunately, other real estate agents with half your talent appear to be doing twice as much business because they’re charging lower commissions.  

What should you do? Lower your fees?  

If you do, you’ll run into cash flow problems and spend a lot more time trying to get to the same level of income. A better approach might be to offer a service that distinguishes your work from any other real estate agent in your area. If you offer your clients drone photography, for example, you’ll provide them with a huge benefit, one that they can’t get from your competitors. In fact, clients will be glad to pay you more for your professional aerial photographs of their property because it’s obvious you’ll be able to help them sell their homes faster.

Progress, Not Perfection 

In an interview about her new book, Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Folie talks about how she began to get ahead in building her business and her brand when she focused on progress and not perfection. 

If you’re not getting as much work done as you’d like, you may spend too much time on too few things. You might major in minor things. By making a shift in perspective, by noticing when things are good enough and moving on to the next task, you’ll be able to get more done each day. 

Priorities and Proportions 

Take a hard look at your daily, weekly, and monthly agenda. Are you prioritizing the most important things, doing them in the right proportion? 

Here’s the thing: we focus on what we find most enjoyable.  

To make priorities and proportion a little clearer, let’s imagine another hypothetical scene. 

You’re a chocolatier with your own small chocolate shop in the mall. You make delicious chocolates, offer a large selection, and sell them at a fair price. What’s more, you have a few loyal customers who love everything you make. Trouble is, you don’t have enough business to cover all your business expenses and fret about how you’ll cover the rent every month. 

The reason your business isn’t doing well has nothing to do with the quality of your product. You’re just not prioritizing the right things. Since you’ve prioritized baking chocolates and spending a large proportion of your time at it, you don’t have enough time (and patience) to engage with customers. Since you’re not building relationships, you’re not getting enough word-of-mouth marketing.  

In conclusion, if you’ve stopped making progress in your new business, you need to get more creative and less perfectionistic, as well as get better at organizing your workflow.


  • Gail Green



    Interior designer/decorator and founder of Gail Green Interiors.