Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed. | November 1, 2021 6:45 am

Starting your own business can be a great way to make income and have a more flexible career.  There is one big problem with being your own boss, though: You are responsible for holding yourself accountable.  One of the common reasons for business failure is if you're not the most disciplined and dependable person, you're probably going to have problems running a consistent business.  But successful entrepreneurs weren't born that way and many struggle with inconsistency. So, there is hope.

The biggest problem with inconsistent work is inconsistent income.  If you get a lot of work done one month and not a lot done the next, depending on your business, your income is going to change drastically from month to month, putting a strain on your budget and financial security.

You may also be inconsistent in your communication, sometimes responding quickly, other times putting things off.  Or not being consistent in the way you communicate expectancies and what you're going to do.  This not only makes you look unreliable and undependable, but can also result in misunderstandings between you and your customers, further worsening the problem. Communicating effectively also starts with initial marketing efforts and continues through product or service delivery and follow up.

When you think of inconsistent work, you often think in terms of time management.  An inconsistent worker often doesn't meet deadlines or sometimes can or cannot be available for work.  However, you can be always prompt and available and still be inconsistent.  You can vary not only in when you do work and how long, but also in the quality of work.  You may provide excellent work sometimes, or sloppy sub-par work at other times.  This can make people leery about hiring you.  They know you can provide quality work, but they don't know that they can count on it. 

So, it's easy to say “I'm going to be more consistent”, but if it's not in your nature, actually becoming consistent is a much more difficult task. 

Here are a few tips for getting yourself back on track.

Make a plan

It's hard to stick to a specific plan when you don't have one.  Take some time to sit down and make a plan of exactly how you want to conduct business.  This can include anything from how long you take to respond to customer requests, to the minimum quality of work you will accept from yourself.  Try concentrating on fixing your weakest points, but don't ignore other aspects.  Otherwise you may begin slacking on those areas as you improve elsewhere.

Set up checks and balances

If your problem is being late with work, set up specific mini-deadlines within projects and make sure you meet them.  If your trouble is varying work quality, look into your situation, find the root cause of the drop in work and set up a check to make sure work quality doesn't suffer when something is different or goes wrong.  You can even set up reward and discipline systems for when you do well or poorly.

Call for backup

Have you tried and tried to improve your work with no luck?  Why not ask a buddy or a business partner to back you up?  You can have them call you at scheduled times to see how you are progressing, double check your products before they go to customers, or help you work out a plan to better communicate with your customers and run your business.  If you don't have a buddy you can trust, you can always hire someone to help you get your life and business in order.

Remember that you can't change your whole work ethic overnight: You CAN avoid these common reasons for business failure, but it takes work and dedication.  But the key is that it can be done and you can become dependable and successful.

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About the Author

I chose to proactively retire from the classroom teaching and share my gifts in a different context. I'm a damn good teacher and I'm tired of working within a frustrating system that won't let me do what I know is right. So I'm taking my business full time -- and I'm still educating, still making a difference in the world. And I want to help you do the same.

Posted in: Collaboration
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