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05 Are you a Struggling Survivor?


Are you a Struggling Survivor?  If so…

Congratulations!  You’ve survived!

According to Zippia’s research, 23% of small businesses closed due to the pandemic.

Prior to 2020, Small Business Administration (SBA) statistics showed 27 million small businesses in the United States,  And there are now 32.5 million small businesses.  You are in good company!

“Most of the people that currently have a small business made this decision in order to make enough money to cover their daily expenses.”  Market Business News.

Their primary reason for being a business owner is likely need.  Need can be a great instigator, but it often lacks the conviction needed to weather the storms of a business.  These owners may find themselves full of questions.

  • Are you questioning why you became a business owner in the first place?

  • Did you escape employment to be your own boss only to find that now the problem has multiplied? Do you feel like each customer is your boss?

  • Is your business running you rather than you running your business?

  • Are you throwing money at the problem, always getting new tools or training, but never seeing the positive results that were promised?

Moving from a Struggling Survivor to a successful business owner involves doubling down on the basics. It is a process that requires analysis prior to action in three major areas.

Area I. Based on the study in The Business Journals, it appears that what Struggling Survivors have in common is a lack of a strong “Why”. Often the first thing that comes to mind when we ask ourselves why we are doing something is superficial. It only hints at the motivation that is deep within. A tool that has been very useful in moving from the superficial reason to the one that is foundational is often called Seven Levels of Why. It is a great tool for defining purposes in our lives and business and also for uncovering hidden motivations in our behaviors. When we find ourselves puzzled by a reaction we had or something we did, this can help us discover an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

There are some life coaches who give examples of how to use this tool to get to the heart of a matter. Many recommend that it can be most helpful with a supportive friend asking the questions and listening carefully to your answers. However, if there is no supporting person available, it can also be effectively done privately. Using it, begin with a simple question. Here is a simplified example:

Question 1: Why is being a business owner important to you?

Answer 1. I need to be able to have a flexible schedule.

Q 2: Why is having a flexible schedule important to you?

A 2: I need to be able to be available for my family and friends wherever they are.

Q3: Why is being available for your family and friends important to you?

A3: Because life is short and I want my family and friends to understand that they are more important than my job.

Q4: Why is having family and friends understand that they are more important than your job important to you?

A4: So my kids grow up knowing that people and relationships are more important than money and material things.

Q5: Why is your kids knowing that people and relationships are more important than money and material things important to you?

A5: If I can instill that into them they will understand that I love them.

Q6: Why is having them understand that you love them important to you?


Note: By now, I think you get the idea.  Just one more to go!

Q7: Why is ——— important to you?


Note: This is the answer that is often surprising even to the person who is answering!  It is this answer that often is the reason and the motivation that we need to stay the course and keep going, keep growing, to meet these deepest values and goals.

Area II. Company culture flows from the top down. Company culture is a reflection of who you are. Personal development is key to a successful work environment and business. Some critical things to review:

1. Personal Skills. The BDC has a self-assessment tool,, which asks about entrepreneurial motivations, aptitudes, and attitudes. The results compare your answers within each category with those of other entrepreneurs. If you consistently score below average in multiple areas, you may need to consider personal development in those areas or gathering a business team who are strong in those areas to help move the business beyond the Struggling Survivor stage.

2. Personality. The personality test at can be very insightful. Each personality has its own section describing strengths and weaknesses, career paths, and workplace habits. Though these are not specifically written for entrepreneurs, the information gained can help in understanding some of the challenges a business is facing because of the owner’s personality. It can also be helpful in understanding relationships with employees, vendors, clients, or customers with different personalities.

Area III. 86% of small businesses fail because of financial issues. 46% of small businesses do not use an accountant/bookkeeper and 47% of those who do have one, do not feel that their bookkeeper is responsive. When we are struggling, we often feel that we don’t have time to organize. Yet, the key to moving into success is to get your finances organized! Your books are like a stethoscope that reveals the strength of the heartbeat of your business.

The first area to review is expenses. When a business is struggling, it is tempting to throw money at it. We’ve seen businesses who’ve been paying for tools they no longer use, who were getting double invoices, who had tools that they forgot they had purchased, who were buying training, but never took the time to actually do the homework, they were paying penalties for taxes and licenses and other expenses because they forgot when things were due….

Throwing money at a business does not make it successful. We can partner with you to organize your financial records to avoid penalties, eliminate unnecessary expenses, and provide a clearer picture of where you are, so you can move forward.

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