You don’t have to be breaking the law to be doing something incredibly wrong as an entrepreneur, and I’m not just talking about ethics and morals. I’m referring to the day-to-day indications that you’re kind of running a creaky, leaky, unstable ship that just might be headed for impending disaster. If you’d like to steer yourself back to fairer waters — or at least towards a fate slightly less tragic than the Titanic’s — these are five signs to look out for and nip in the bud like…yesterday.
And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re profitable or growing. I’ve grown a profitable ship to a massive degree, only to look reality in the face and swallow the harsh truth that in order to course-correct, I’d have to tear down years of progress. Don’t do as I did, do as I wish I did; as you know, hindsight’s 20/20, but you just may be early enough to save your ship.
I’m not talking about running away from the Feds or evading arrest (though those would be pretty good indicators you’re probably not running things above board and white hat). However, I’m specifically referring to those founders and startups tiptoeing furtively just below the gaze of the vendor or partner they fear. If you feel you have to skirt around nuanced guidelines and regulations to avoid rocking a boat that could permanently knock you out of entrepreneurial orbit, that’s a good indication your venture’s time running as is just may be limited.
Want examples? No problem, I’ve got plenty:
- Not-so-ad-friendly niches relying on ads for leads or sales
- Direct outbound marketing (physical mail, cold email, or cold calls) in a regulation-tightening industry
- Legally controversial products or services using conservative and guideline-increasing payment systems, banks, and platforms
Do you know what it’s like to see a high-volume business’s lucrative sales come to a screeching halt overnight, for no apparent fault of your own (the founder) or anyone on your team? I’ve both seen it (multiple times) and experienced it personally, and I can tell you it…