Many entrepreneurs fall into the same cycle. Maybe you have as well. Are you in the cycle of working your fingers to the bone, just to keep your head above water? No exercise? No healthy food? And -- let me guess -- no time for your family? If that describes you, then you are indeed in the trap, my friend.
Chasing Your Tail
The popular entrepreneurial author Barry Moltz coined a phrase to describe this occurrence: the Double Helix Trap. The trap works something like this: you work as hard as you can, focusing your efforts on servicing your clients. But then sales drop; you are busy serving clients, after all, not selling. So then you do everything you can to boost sales. You network like mad, you call prospects, you do everything to book business.
But then, since you are selling, you are not making money -- you need to do the work to make the money, so you are back to serving clients and not selling. You are indeed caught in the trap!
There is a way out of the trap, believe it or not. The way out is through the process of asking two simple questions, answering them honestly, and then taking two simple actions.
First, you want to ask yourself, every 90 days, “What’s working?” You will need to list all the things you have been doing in the past 90 days that are making you money. Is there a specific way you are marketing that brings in the most leads? Is there a specific client who keeps buying repeatedly from you? Is there one service or product you have that is bringing in the nicest profits? Once you identify what is working, you now need to amplify it. Do more of that. You need to think about, plan on, and simply start doing more of what is working.
But this is only half of the equation. The other half is to ask yourself what’s not working. Similar to what you did above, you will need to list all the things you did in the last 90 days that are not working. Is there a specific way you are marketing that is not bringing in results? Are there certain clients that you work hard for, yet they aren’t paying you? That, clearly, is not working! Is there a service offering that is just not selling? That is also not working.
With the not-working stuff, you have two options. One is to reduce and eliminate it as quickly as possible. The other is to find a way to modify or change it so that it gets into the working category by the next 90-day evaluation.
Trusting the System
Obviously, this 90-day time-frame analysis system is not scientific. And I’m sure there are a million arguments out there, stating why some things need several years before hitting their peak. (I mean, some fine wines need 100 years to hit their prime!) But the point here is that many parts of your business can be evaluated every 90 days, and these two questions can be asked.
And once you do ask what's not working, you will ask yourself why in the heck you didn’t stop that a long time ago, and do more of the other thing a lot sooner.
Mike Michalowicz is the Author of the business cult-classic, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Michalowicz has built three multi-million dollar companies, is a frequent expert guest on MSNBC, CNBC, ABC and other television networks, and is a nationally renowned speaker. His website is www.ToiletPaperEntrepreneur.com and his book is available at and all major book stores.