Quiz Time! (With prizes! And angst for your brain!)

blog photo 12-10Wednesday, 9:26pm
In The Bosom Of The Sierras Below Lake Tahoe, NV
I got your number on the wall…” (Tommy TuTone “Jenny/867-5309”)

Howdy…

I’ve got an idea: Let’s give out a couple of hot prizes. What d’ya think about that?

Like… how about a bitchin’ hot-off-the-presses copy of my book “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together“…

signed by me, to you.

Free. I’ll even pick up the shipping, that’s what a mensch I am.

And all you gotta do is be either the first to deliver (in the comment section below) the correct answer to the question I’m about to reveal here… or write up the best response. I’ll be the judge and jury here.

So there will be two winners. We’ll let this quiz percolate for a week, and then I’ll announce the two winners here.

I haven’t hosted a quiz in a long time. Shame on me. The last few quizzes pulled in hundreds and hundreds of replies, which kind of freaked me out… but they were also evil fun. I’ll be in the comments myself, sifting and searching for the two winners (and tossing out the trolls).

I’ll announce the lucky victors in the comments section on Friday, November 22.

Free signed copy of the one book all serious entrepreneurs should have on their shelf. Might be worth something, you know, when I kick the bucket (or get embroiled in a scandal or something).

First correct answer, and best response (as judged by me).

Okay, ready?

Here’s the set-up for the question: I’ve been counseling and advising entrepreneurs for over 30 years now…

… on just about every detail of creating a solid biz model, and cramming all marketing materials with the kind of persuasive voodoo that brings in the Big Bucks. I’ve helped transform a small army of formerly-clueless entrepreneurs into scary-good monsters of profit.

And, in almost every long-term relationship I’ve had advising a client…

… we’ve covered every aspect of running a business — dealing with details, solving problems, finding happiness and managing wealth (or lack thereof).

If you haven’t enjoyed a mentoring relationship like this (or even an extended round of consulting with an expert), you might be astonished at what, precisely, pops up as the biggest (and baddest) obstacle to getting filthy rich and deliriously happy as an entrepreneur.

You might even be shocked.

So, here’s the question: Based on what you suspect I’ve discovered in my 30 years of consulting…

what is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success?

Not the second biggest problem. Not the third biggest. THE biggest. The Big Kahuna of entrepreneurial obstacles.

The quiz starts now.

Drop your answer in the comments section. You can answer more than once, but don’t go nuts, all right? Quality, not quantity.

Consider your answer, using all your powers of deduction, insight, experience (plus the clue hidden here)…

… and give it a shot.

I’ll wander in and out of the comments myself, offering other vague clues.

The answer I’m looking for, remember, is what I’ve discovered in my career as a consultant. So I’ve obviously written about it before, wouldn’t you think? Like, in posts here in the blog maybe?

Or not.

At any rate, the game is on.

See you in the comments section.

Winners will be revealed Friday the 22nd.

Stay frosty, and don’t screw this up.

John

 

Leave a Comment:

439 comments
Alice says November 14, 2013

Hi John,

I’m reading this blog for a while now, started with the very last page and make my way through it. Actually I’m on page 115 (the server died, remember?)and I’m still thrilled about the brilliant posts you are writing.

Okay, fan-hugging done, so here is my answer:

The biggest problem i think is to _move_.
To get up and _do_ something, instead of just talking.

Like this: i want to win this copy, so i have to write a commend and not just think about how great it would be to win.

So i give it a try and i’m curious about what happend. 😉

Many greetings from Germany,
Alice

Reply
    John Carlton says November 14, 2013

    Hi Alice. How did you guys find out about this post so fast? I haven’t announced it on Facebook or in email yet…

    Oh, well. Good for you for being on the cutting edge of discovery. RSS feed?

    Anyway, good answer… but not the right one. Gary Halbert used to love saying “Movement solves a lot of problems”, and over the years I’ve also had many clients who just needed a good swift kick in the butt to get them off a static point of inaction.

    But it’s not the #1 problem.

    Try again, if you like…

    Reply
      Alice says November 15, 2013

      Gnah… but thanks for the answer.

      I use bloglovin for google chrome, whenever a new blogpost is online a little red number show up. I love this little tool. 🙂

      Okay next try:

      First I scanned your answers to the other comments to find out if it is said already, but no. Fear was another idea, but you answered about that a lot so I first was about to say:

      1. Ideas/Goals.

      Before you haven’t have a good idea about what you want to do/sell or a goal settled, you can’t make any other move.

      But then I read your answer to Ozans commend and another idea came to my mind:

      2. the disability to hang on to an idea.

      A first hurdle and the whole thing crashed, because they give up.

      Also known as the greenness about the idea of getting succesfull. You doesn’t go straight to success, you fail a lot before you can succeed and if you don’t know (and accept) this, you never get anywhere close to your goals.

      Gosh, it’s friday morning, hope you got what I mean. 😀

      Greets from Germany (Berlin) 😉

      Reply
sean says November 14, 2013

Hey John,

How are ya?

Thanks for a shot at a copy of your new book.

Would the number one reason be goals or lack thereof?

Thanks again.

Later.

Reply
    John Carlton says November 14, 2013

    Another decent answer, Sean. But not the right one. I’ve known a number of entrepreneurs who follow the “ready, fire, aim” school of thought, and craft their goals on the go, while they’re in the game. It’s not the best way to get stuff done, cuz you end up going down a lot of blind alleys, and have to reverse course often. But it can work. In fact, it’s how I conducted my own career at the beginning, since I had launched myself into the freelance world with no clear goals other than to get a few jobs and “see what happens.”

    Thanks for the response. Try again.

    Reply
Eric says November 14, 2013

You called it envy. The in-your-own-headedness that keeps entrepreneurs from understanding their clients, their competitors, and their market. Keeps them using horrible web designs because “I like it!” Keeps them thinking, “but what will they THINK OF ME if I use a headline like that?!” Keeps them saying, “if only I had my competition’s competitive advantage, I’d be rich!” (and never spotting what they can do to do things ten times better)

And keeps them from spotting a starving crowd when it wanders past their front door, begging for a juicy burger.

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    John Carlton says November 14, 2013

    Yet another good (but wrong) answer.

    Good to see that you thought this out first, Eric. Keep thinking on it…

    Reply
Clark says November 14, 2013

Hey John, having reread the Intelligent,Educated and Savvy article I’m going to guess…applying what you’ve learned.

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    John Carlton says November 14, 2013

    Ah, taking detective shortcuts — one of my favorite tactics, too, Clark.

    But, no. Not the right answer.

    Reply
Bostjan Belcic says November 14, 2013

Answer: Re-inventing the wheel & not taking action!

All best to fellow competitors 🙂

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    John Carlton says November 14, 2013

    That’s a good tactic to keep in your toolkit — to make sure you know how your competition has approached marketing, pricing, customer service, etc — but it’s not the #1 problem. Thanks for trying…

    Reply
Jody Pilkington says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

Short answer: Confidence in yourself!

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BD says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

Is it…the ummm…

ability to…whoa nice shot Lebron…

hey I like this commercial with the talking gecko…

damn, I forgot to do laundry today…

Oh yeah, the answer is…the ability to focus to get sh*t done.

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Wayne says November 15, 2013

A strategy!

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Brent says November 15, 2013

Hey John,

Trying to do it all by themselves.

Get help, get partners with strengths you don’t have.

My 2 cents.

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Joe says November 15, 2013

Selling from their heels. Not getting over their bad selves – putting the pussyfooting around behind them – and putting a killer, ballsy offer out there.

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David M. O'Neill says November 15, 2013

The NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success is having a well defined and actionable definition of success for themselves to begin with.

Without it they don’t know where they are going, they can’t tell they are getting there, and the won’t know if they have arrived.

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Mike says November 15, 2013

Would it be the habit of complicating the answer/solution to the problems themselves?

Trying to let a gazillion possibilities marinate in the back of their brains – hoping to stoke some revolutionary idea instead of keeping it SIMPLE?

(Cop out answer given the prize: Getting their shit together? 🙂 )

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Mike — that’s one of my favorite sayings (and I’m pretty sure I said this first a few years ago, though the sentiment is as old as recorded history): “It’s a built-in tendency of the human race to take a simple, elegant idea… and then complicate the fuck out of it.”

    Great guess. However, not the precise right answer.

    Reply
      Clark says November 15, 2013

      Hmm I’m guessing then that the most common problem in consulting is that people don’t know exactly what their next step is. That’s why they go to consulting asking for what to do rather than having a plan already and use consulting as help. I read this from one of your articles but I can’t remember exactly where, I’ll post back when I find it.

      Reply
Ben Solomon says November 15, 2013

Hey John,

Is the number one problem – being unwilling to delegate?

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S. J. Ardent says November 15, 2013

#1 Problem – waiting so long before seeking out a mentor, or never getting one at all.

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Tia Dobi says November 15, 2013

1. Inability to say ‘Fuck no’.

2. No focus.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Tia, knew you’d be in the first pack to answer.

    This IS a big problem, but it’s not the Big Kahuna…

    Reply
      Tia Dobi says November 16, 2013

      Quality Answer #3:

      Stay Frosty…. be conscious and understand how the world works.

      Reply
        John Carlton says November 16, 2013

        Always appreciate your thinking, Tia. And in a meta-way, this is a good answer.

        But the main problems I see in consults aren’t at the meta-level — they’re starkly real, in a way that is instantly recognizable (to a pro looking for them, anyway)…

        Reply
Charles Davis says November 15, 2013

I think the #1 thing holding people back is their fear of failure. Many people view failure as an end instead of only being a part of the journey, a necessary part. The only way you can truly fail is if you quit….or never start.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    This is what I was hoping for when I hosted this quiz — some really good thinking about what the main problems of being an entrepreneur are.

    Good answer, Charles… but not the one I’m looking for.

    Reply
Jiyaad Naeem says November 15, 2013

Thinking that if they are good technicians (plumber, accountant), that they will also thrive in that business.

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Asher says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

The pre-requisite, I believe, is in knowing what you want to achieve.

After that, I think the number one problem faced by entrepreneurs is not breaking down their goals into manageable, achievable steps and phases.

And sticking to their own deadlines. Getting out of their own way. Tying down their ego (be it too high or too low). Getting productive instead of the illusion of busyness.

Asher

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Ana Tereza says November 15, 2013

My answer is the inability to say NO way Jose.

Tia Dobi beat me to the answer because I did not say NO to my daughter and made her some tea before I posted here, so note to self (Learn how to say NO dammit).

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Steve Amos says November 15, 2013

The number 1 problem of every business is getting more sales.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    I’ve known a number of biz models reach staggering levels of income, and still not meet the parameters of being “successful”. Good try, though, Steve.

    Reply
Ana Tereza says November 15, 2013

My second guess is not having any differentiation from the competition.

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Dale Mueller says November 15, 2013

Based on the clues, I would say that entrepreneurs get one-itis, that is to say they believe that there is only one way to accomplish what they are after. They stay stuck on trying the same thing over and over hoping for a new result every time. They can’t jump the rut to cut a new groove.

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Tania Dakka says November 15, 2013

The courage to fail (so they can find what works best) is what holds most entrepreneurs back!

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mike says November 15, 2013

Hey John,

I’ll take a shot – The one problem is the entrepreneurs are not doing those things they know they should be doing to get the desired results. They instead focus on what they’re passionate about, the stuff that makes them feel busy, or the stuff that doesn’t scare them.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Really good try, Mike — and while this can be a problem, it’s not the one I’m looking for. Thanks for the response…

    Reply
Daniel says November 15, 2013

I’m gonna say the biggest problem is their heads.

The B.S. beliefs, fears and self-imposed limitations that stop them from taking the actions that would get the results they ultimately want.

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Adam Bean says November 15, 2013

How to cut out all of the bullshit, and only do tasks that put money in the bank?

Cheers Beanie

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Ingo says November 15, 2013

Its not throwing your EGO to the trash before you write or anything else moolah making related.

Joder I want that book signed!

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Ha! You’ve perhaps been to, or seen video of one of my events, no?

    It’s a great point to make… but not the right answer, Ingo.

    Reply
Marcin says November 15, 2013

Not constantly “brainwashing” yourself with the right advice/info.

I think we are constantly being brainwashed, so if that is true, I think we should at least pick a good “detergent”, which will in turn allow us to constantly improve, and reach our chosen goals (or at least let us find “the right” goals).

The answer is: Not having a good mentor.

and… (when you do have a good mentor).

Not following his advice, not using his know-how, knowledge.

Not following the instructions…

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Good thinking, Marcin. Lots of folks almost require some kind of mentoring (I certainly benefited hugely from it).

    However, the whole concept of mentoring is fraught with other issues — finding one, accessing them, understanding how the process works (the movie “The Karate Kid” wasn’t far off on the often absurd nature of how mentoring can work/not work).

    Reply
Jeff Hendrickson says November 15, 2013

How to kill your inner demon.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    If you’ve got just one demon running around in your head, you’re one lucky dude, Jeff. The rest of us are wrestling with small mobs of the little buggers.

    And it’s hard to “kill” them. Much easier to develop simple strategies to ignore/lock them away. This was a big “Psych Insights for Modern Marketers” podcast not too long ago… (free podcasts at http://www.pi4mm.com)

    Good suggestion, but not the right answer.

    Reply
Kara says November 15, 2013

what is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success is the fear of change.

They seek out advice, pay for advice, but when that advice means they have to change, they disappear.

Kara

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Scott Worthington says November 15, 2013

I have been through this. A few years ago I was a partner in a quick serve restaurant franchise with 12 locations. Today I am broke, bankrupt, and trying to get my shit together.

The biggest thing that doomed my partner and I was the arrogance of believing that we knew it all. After all, we had 40 years experience between us, surely we could figure things out.

What we needed was an outside expert. An objective viewpoint with broader experience than we had.

We needed to hook up with someone that knew his shit. And we needed to listen and heed his advice. We needed to ask for help before it was too late.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Wow, Scott, that’s a painful lesson to learn, in a painful way.

    I hope you’re on your way to getting a new version of success back. Well written response, appreciate you sharing it.

    Reply
Sebastian says November 15, 2013

The number one problem is getting new customers. At least in the eye’s of the entrepreneurs.

They’re real, main problem is… not having a marketing system to get new customers. A system which can be measured and therefore a system which can be improved. A system which gives them rock-solid guidance in form of tasty sales.

But in order to be able to get that… they need to get their shit together.

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Don Sturgill says November 15, 2013

Not believing their Dream is possible: Fear.

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Don Sturgill says November 15, 2013

More exactly, John, not fear … but doubt.

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Brady says November 15, 2013

I think the biggest mistake HAS to be focusing on the product, service, business or entrepreneur instead of focusing on the customers wants and needs.

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David says November 15, 2013

There is no one biggest problem. Every biz owner has a new biggest problem every week of the year. If you don’t have problems, it means you’re not pushing hard enough, and holes aren’t naturally being poked in the way you do things. So I’d have to say if I didn’t have a biggest problem, that’d be my biggest problem.

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Rich J says November 15, 2013

Biggest problem is taking the first step, and DOING something, rather than just reading about doing something…

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aaron says November 15, 2013

They have a great idea which they think will revolutionise their industry so they go an spend thousands of $$$ on developing some whiz bang gizmo without talking to their target audience

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Animesh says November 15, 2013

Sell something and make a customer

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Drew Bay says November 15, 2013

Time management; being as efficient as possible with our most limited resource. (Overcoming the self-sabotage of the typical entrepreneur when it comes to time management… oh and poor marketing!)

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EDdys VElasquez says November 15, 2013

The biggest problem for entrepreneurs is DOING things they DON’T like.

Instead of focusing on and doing the things they do like (things that make them happy).

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Andy Wilson says November 15, 2013

Themselves.

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JL DIAZ says November 15, 2013

The biggest problem is ability to focus on the goal of establishing a system.

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Marichal says November 15, 2013

Hi,
i think th biggest problem is to clearly define the good prospect profile: what they want , who they are, to be able to adapt the good product for the good customer and of course where to find them to make the good list.

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Damian D. says November 15, 2013

Wow, this literally just hit my e-mail, and already 22 comments? Sheesh.

Here are my buest guess(es):

— Failure to ‘Get It’. Many entrepreneurs chase their tails and spin their wheels without understanding what the ultimate objective is.

— Their EGO. Too focused on being ‘dignified’ and ‘professional’. Not enough brass balls, personality, and gusto in their marketing.

— Not focused on Operation Moneysuck. Any small problem or distraction throws most entrepreneurs off. Printer crashes…they spend a half an hour trying to fix it. One customer complained…throwing away 20 minutes (or more) trying to smooth it out with them over the phone. All focus should be on the activities that directly lead to money coming in (writing sales letter, upselling, etc.).

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    All good answers, but not the Big One, Damian. Thanks for the note, though…

    Reply
Mk Akan says November 15, 2013

I would say …knowing how to market their products , services or ideas

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Ronald Nzimora says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I am a reader all the way from Nigeria and I love everything you teach.

In answer to your question, I believe the biggest problem is that entrepreneurs ALWAYS THINK that their business is DIFFERENT and so believe that your ideas and strategies CANNOT possibly be transferred to their business and used by them to make monster profits.

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Aaron says November 15, 2013

#1 Problem: you don’t know what you don’t know.

So, sometimes, you don’t know when it’s a good idea to stop for a reality check and holster the brass balls (temporarily).

And sometimes, you forget that someone else might know the answers to all your problems.

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Art McCormack says November 15, 2013

I love quizzes, especially when there’s good “bait on the hook”…John, I believe the correct answer something we all struggle with, in one form or another, no matter where we are on the success ladder…it’s actually a very core human characteristic and darn hard to overcome sometimes (can you hear the voice of experience talking here?)…a simple four letter word…ENVY! Cheers mate, and good luck to all.

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    Marcin says November 15, 2013

    Here I go again (:

    I really liked the Envy one, Ego is nice too. Jealousy… (:

    But that’s probably not what your looking for.

    Here we go:

    Not taking like as it is, for what it is, and as it comes (I can’t find the right words, but I guess you know what I mean).

    Reply
    Marcin says November 15, 2013

    Oops that last comment was not supposed to be here (technology…) sorry Art.

    p.s. I really liked your answer.

    Reply
Chris says November 15, 2013

Fear.

Whether that’s of success, of stepping out, of change. Their comfortable, even if it isn’t working, and are afraid of moving on from that.

Even if they know WHAT to do, fear gets in the way. That’s why you can’t just give people the tools.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    “Fear” is showing up a lot. And while it IS a major issue, it’s usually more of an issue BEFORE someone gets to the point of consulting with me. By the time I enter the picture, some form of action and movement has taken place.

    Great answer, and it’s a common first thought. But not the answer I’m looking for.

    Reply
Sirrahc says November 15, 2013

I’ll take a stab at it…

#1 Problem: Falling in love with a product and then trying to sell it, rather than identifying a hungry market and finding/creating a product to feed it.

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Vivienne says November 15, 2013

…Fear of Loss 🙂

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Jody Raynsford says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

Marvellous post.

My two-penneth worth about what is stopping most entrepreneurs from being successful is this: The Fear.

The fear of failing.

What sets successful people aside from the mortals are their willingness to face up to that fear. Facing it and just pushing ahead despite that desperate, yawning pull that churns your stomach and dizzies your mind. Because really they have nothing to fear.

Even if it does happen (and most of the time, your worst fears aren’t realised) failure is simply part of the learning process. Lots of failures means you have gained an education far beyond those who sit and dream. And if you keep going, then, yes, success will be waiting for you just round the next corner.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Again, I see why “fear” keeps coming up, because I certainly harp on it a lot (as do other teachers).

    But while fear is rampant in the general population, once an entrepreneur actually dives into the adventure of going into biz, they’ve conquered much of the greatest kind of fear they’ll encounter. There will be lots of opportunities to experience more fear along the way… but it’s not the major problem.

    Thanks for the well thought-out response, though.

    Reply
Lis Santana says November 15, 2013

I am going to go with…

Working in their business instead of on their business. 80% of their time is spent on low value activities that can be outsourced for dirt cheap. Instead, they could be focusing on the actions that yield the greatest ROI…the 20% actions that yield 80% of the results. Michael Gerber’s E-Myth books and products tackle this tendency head on.

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hagar says November 15, 2013

focusing too hard on the money, and not hard enough on the “why” of it. You can make money doing most any damn thing, but you won’t stick to it without a “why”.
and awesome contest!

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Greg Reed says November 15, 2013

Ok John. You’ve got the ‘onliners’ buzzing.

The action takers but not necessarily the tinkers have already jumped in and given you their response. You’ve quickly torched them (in a nice way) and have possibly sent some into oblivion forever.

Now the ‘procrastinators, fear gods, the non action takers’ who refer to themselves as the ‘thinkers’ will ponder the answer over the weekend; many of who will have long, sleepless nights and will deliver their response next week. International drug companies (legal and illegal) will thank you for the turmoil you’ve caused.

The strategists will collate all the responses, run it through a specially designed software program built by Bill Gates and give you their reply 5 minutes to midnight of 21 November.

But for me John, the eternal optimist, I know the number one issue with entrepreneurs is ALL of the above + FEAR.

Fear to get started, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being a dill in front of their mates, fear of giving up a pay check from a company they hate….you name it. They are riddled with False Evidence Appearing Real = FEAR!

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hey, nice to hear from you, Greg. But as I’ve already written a few times, “fear” is a problem, but not the biggie that arrives in the consulting I do.

    Appreciate the whole notion of “tinkers”, good stuff…

    Reply
Gary Mead says November 15, 2013

In my 21 years of consulting I found that the biggest barrier to success was the person being their own worst enemy — self-disparagement/denial of one’s own intentions, minimizing one’s abilities — shooting oneself in the foot.

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Kingi says November 15, 2013

Taking Action
Marketing
Proper planning

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David DeLeon says November 15, 2013

To nail it down to the ONE thing…you’re really making sparks fly in my noggin’!

My best guess would be their MINDSET.

If they don’t have their mind conditioned for great success and wealth, they will unconsciously **** it up. Even if they are so close to success they can smell it…if their mind is not in the right place…forget it. They will unconsciously sabotage their own success.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Good to hear about the sparks in your noggin’, David.

    That’s the whole concept behind this kind of quiz. To get folks to fire up that gray slab in their skulls.

    Good answer, too… but not the one I’m looking for.

    Remember, folks — the answer is what I encounter in my job as a consultant to entrepreneurs. That’s a clue…

    Reply
      Clark says November 15, 2013

      Hmm from this clue I guess I would say the number one thing blocking people is trying to do everything yourself. You need to be open to more partnership of mentorship, something like that like a fresh set of eyes long term.

      Reply
Scott says November 15, 2013

I would say the #1 problem is not knowing their metrics. For example, not knowing the lifetime value of a customer.

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Kingi says November 15, 2013

To be successful you need A good plan along with great work ethics. The ability to keep working towards your goals.

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Art McCormack says November 15, 2013

Goof alert…I obviously missed Eric’s comment above, and your subsequent answer. Fair enough, try again…so this time I’ll go from the gut…ATTITUDE! Whether it’s the right answer or not, you wouldn’t be the first person I’ve heard talk about this, but as the years half piled on, life experience has a cunning way of proving wiser people than me to be right. “Attitude is everything…” have you heard that one before? And from the “personal life experience” vault I attest…every time my attitude sucked, so did pretty much everything else around me…business, relationships, life. Cheers

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Paul Eaton says November 15, 2013

I am one of those who sometimes struggles on a daily basis
but it doesn’t stop me trying to get my S**t right and move forward in my little businesses.

I was torn between 3 answers so kinda having an each way bet on this.

1. Lack of Consistency – not paying attention to the detail that moves you forward everyday.

2. Waiting for Perfect – instead of getting it out there and working on it.

3. Squirrel Chasing – running after shiny objects that distract you from your true purpose instead of believing in yourself.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Good thinking, Paul. That’s why quizzes like this try to accomplish.

    Keep trying…

    Reply
Ed says November 15, 2013

I would say when encountering a problem, make a choice and keep moving. Don’t get stopped by anything.

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Jane says November 15, 2013

Great post and discussion. Andy already said what I think – themselves.

I also think that thinking too small is a problem. I meet new entrepreneurs who want to set up on a shoe string, and think they can get all the advice they want for free. Sure they can get a lot of advice for free, but I see people doing absolutely bonkers things (do you say bonkers in USA or is it just a UK thing?) because they aren’t willing to pay for an hour of good business advice. (Doesn’t have to be at your rates, John!) The whole thing then becomes a hobby, not a business.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Good answer, Jane. It’s something I’ve written about before, and can cause all kinds of havoc in an otherwise-successful career.

    But not the answer to this question… Thanks for playing, though.

    Reply
Ofek says November 15, 2013

Being a tactician not a strategist
Focusing on “how” instead of “why”

Cheers
Ofek

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Henry Newrick says November 15, 2013

John,

I’d say it’s retaining the right mental attitude so that what may seem insurmountable obstacles to lesser mortals become simply ‘annoyances’ to overcome on the way to success

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Ofek says November 15, 2013

Low self esteem

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Nick Jervis says November 15, 2013

1. Failing to become a master of marketing.
2. Not taking action until everything is perfect, which of course it never is. ‘Perfection kills momentum’ as I call it.

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Ken Walden says November 15, 2013

The number 1 problem facing aspiring entrepreneurs is “balance.” Without balancing family, friends, social interaction and work the feeling of living alone can consume everything.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    That’s very important, Ken. Up in the top ten, but not what we’re after here…

    Reply
Damian D. says November 15, 2013

Here are my two guesses…

— EGO. The majority of entrepreneurs get sucked into this concept of looking “professional” and “dignified.” So they tone down their marketing. In plain english, not enough brass balls, personality and gusto in their marketing.

— They don’t ‘Get It’ (scuttlebutt session with Gary Halbert). They don’t understand the whole system of business and what their main objective is. Many don’t know that ultimately, the purpose of a business is to be profitable. Therefore, you should focus on operation moneysuck.

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Ozan says November 15, 2013

Hey John!

I never had the occasion to sincerely thank you and all your teammates to be my copywriting mentors and for making available your vast knowledge in direct response to the general crowd.

I’m only 19 now and you know what? I was able to afford a 3 weeks long trip to Germany ALL thanks to the earnings brought by my freelance copywriting activities.

Having said that, I’ll shoot an answer based on my personal struggles: the BIGGEST problem of any entrepreneur is definitely having to deal with UNEXPECTED events.

Things that the entrepreneur didn’t forsee he would encounter on his way to financial freedom and a meaningful life.

And I think it’s actually the job of a consultant to mentally prepare the entrepreneur to deal with any “black swan” that can come from not only his business but also his professional life.

For example, the entrepreneur can affirm she’s prepared to work until very late… but once she realizes her venture prevents her from attending her 3 year old’s ballet class ever again (or whatever), it might be a deal breaker.

In short, “black swans”/unexpected events (that cause unforseen life changes) are the invisible entrepreneurial bone breakers that form the biggest problem of any entrepreneur.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Damn good answer, Ozan. And congrats on the trip, paid for by writing. You’re living the life, dude.

    Not exactly the answer I’m looking for, however. (And folks should pay attention to the way I’ve carefully worded this “no” response…)

    Reply
    Jiyaad says November 15, 2013

    Hey Ozan,

    That’s awesome man!

    Did you go through the simple writing system to get you chops?

    Reply
Rob Jones says November 15, 2013

Indecision

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Russell says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

Mmm, good one…

See I was going to say the number one obstacle was not having a good mentor, or not consulting with someone who knew the intricacies, nuances and dodgy characters lurking down the ‘dark alley’ of entrepreneurship.

But you’re sneaky…so I’m thinking it may have something to do with the mechanics of biz, rather than ‘inner game’ stuff or getting outside assistance.

From my limited experience I’m going to say its choosing to go into the wrong kind of business in the first place i.e. high risk, low margins, lukewarm market.

Either that or not focusing on the aspect of your particular business that would be most profitable in your nich.

My two shiny pennies…

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David DeLeon says November 15, 2013

No STRATEGY in place.

Most are kinda winging it without really knowing what works, what their numbers (metrics) are, and chasing allthe new shiny objects in their industry.

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Sara says November 15, 2013

Not knowing their market. Not understanding who their “avatar” is.

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Michael Blaes says November 15, 2013

HI John,

I think the #1 Problem that Entrepreneurs face is themselves.

What I mean is they allow their own thinking to get in the way of their success.

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Razvan Rogoz says November 15, 2013

It would be their bias towards their own preferences. In other words, if someone believes that 1 + 1 = 3, then he’ll act as it’s 3 no matter if someone else proves them wrong or not.

Therefore, even if they are instructed on how to do things the right way, they’ll fall back into their own patterns of behavior, patterns that may or may have not served them right so far.

It’s the same thing that happens when they receive copy …
“Hmm … my niece thinks that this should be worded another way …”
“Hmm … that would never fly with my market”
“Hmm … what if we change just the headline, lead copy and closing to make it similar to what we’ve done before?”

It’s hard to change a mental bias, especially when the right thing is counter-intuitive compared to everything you’ve done so far.

🙂

Razvan Rogoz

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Paul Salo says November 15, 2013

Figuring out the answer to the question, “what makes people buy”?

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Gabor Wolf (from Hungary) says November 15, 2013

Want to go really, really deep?

After you get your first entrepreneurial successes, you reach a deadly dangerous zone: you become comfortable and lose the motivation to keep pushing on.

It’s the trap of comfort that leads to body fat, a boring marriage, an uneventful life – and a forever small business.

Thanks for asking, by the way!

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Actually, many entrepreneurs experience something more akin to depression when they first hit massive success… because the game has shifted, and without struggle, they can get bored and irritated over the day-to-day management of an ongoing biz. It’s a good point to cover, and I think I’ve written a post or two about this phenomenon in the blog.

    Not the big problem for entrepreneurs, however.

    Thanks for sharing the deep thoughts, though, Gabor. Always been interested in Hungary…

    Reply
Colin Dunbar says November 15, 2013

Hey John
I’m guilty of missing too many of your posts the last couple of years. It sucks when life gets in the way.
My guess would be: A lack of focus on doing the important things needed to run and grow the business.
Thanks for great material.
Cheers
Colin

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Jody Raynsford says November 15, 2013

Once more unto the breach, John…

Is their biggest problem: defining what their biggest problem is?

(Or is that being a touch too reflexive?!)

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Stefan says November 15, 2013

The number one problem faced by entreoreneurs in their quest for success is the fact
that they have not yet stumbled over you because if they would be on your email list
they would find out in a week or so thanks to you what is that number one problem.

I am not sarcastic. There are a few of top marketers who pretend expressing
not the second biggest problem, not the third biggest but the biggest,
the Big Kahuna of entrepreneurial obstacles.

Definitely, yours opinion is to be one of the most valuable and applicable
for entrepreneurs in their quests for success. For the following reason:
You, John, are never cheap in your interactions, you are never a clone of
hot prevailing cliches and manipulative approaches. You are one of those
very few top marketers, who are normal and wise.

So I am waiting for Your interpretation of the number one problem
faced by entreoreneurs in their quest for success.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Well, thank you for the kudo’s, Stefan. Talk about putting some pressure on me over the answer…

    Seriously, though, I believe the answer will be a bit of a wake-up call for many folks. Remember, it’s what I’ve discovered to be the big problem of entrepreneurs during the 30-year window of consulting I’ve done, so it’s based on reality, not theory. So I’ve got that going for me…

    Thanks for the note.

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      Stefan says November 15, 2013

      Thanks John for your reply.
      Sure you will disclose soon not a sort of a theory-based issue but the experience-based reality. I dared calling you normal and wise. What you will disclose will be not so much a naming of a problem as it will be an expression of wisdom. Wisdom, which is acquirable and transferable only in a joint spin of your self-reflection and reflection of other entrepreneurs during your 30-year scope of giving them your honest advice and profound methodology. Only wisdom is usable and applicable by all different kinds of people or entrepreneurs. Entreprenurs need today hearing the wisdom from marketers. So I am waiting for it.

      Reply
Robert Wright says November 15, 2013

Self Doubt and Lack of Self Confidence, which are two sides of the same coin.

Robert Wright

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Raja Hireker says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I think the answer to your question are the specific behaviours that are absent in clients, their personal behaviour is incongruent with the goals and strategies you give clients to follow.

Raja

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Ellery says November 15, 2013

I think the number one problem is:

How to create the biggest impact and give the biggest value to transform the industry/market so that people can have a bigger, or more decent life because of them?

Thanks.

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Dave Persich says November 15, 2013

Finding a hungry crowd.

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Tuukka says November 15, 2013

That they think they know better than the experts.

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Alex says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I ran into the situation that I started with a business partner a business with several products and we made some sales.

But we were unable to increase those sales substantially and also failed to increase our customer base.

I think this is the biggest problem of entrepreneurs that they start, have some success but then hit a “glass ceiling” in the sky that prevents further progress and they are unable to grow their business. And they need help to make the next step an break the “glass ceiling” barrier preventing further growth.

So my answer is: “glass ceiling” in the sky

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Interesting take on a very real problem amongst entrepreneurs. Though, the glass ceiling reference (unfortunately) still applies mostly to women trying to reach upper levels of management in corporations.

    Reply
Des Gray says November 15, 2013

Hey John,

What is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by (us as) entrepreneurs in their (our) quest for success?

Getting our head out of the sand, to get out of our way. Our perspectives and mindset constrict us in a tight, little inner-reflective bubble – sight unseen by us.

We’re being intelligent and logical; trying to do business with everyone/everything ‘outside of our bubble’… thinking their world is the same as ours… but it’s not. All we’re seeing is our own reflection; so we miss the mark.

If we put intellect/logic aside, and were completely honest; we’d see we are mostly just playing games within ourselves, unknowingly. To get out of our own way, means ‘we must BE in our own way – we’re the obstacle!’

‘We don’t see the world as it is – we see it as we are’.

…that’s my quick two cents worth; and hey, if it’s not the answer, at least it’s enlightening.

Looking forward to your new book…

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Nice answer, Des — shows you put some real thought into it. Not what I’m looking for, however.

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Jim Rose says November 15, 2013

This quiz is fun ++. Thanks.
Persistence is my number one.
I don’t have it. My wife is genuinely surprised when I actually finish reading a book – I usually have half a dozen on my bedside table. Same thing on line, with a few really good things currently incompletely read. My website needs lots of attention to recover it’s status with the big G after penguins and pandas etc. It’s not getting it.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Persistence IS a huge problem in the entire human race, Jim. No doubt about it. And it’s something I see in the consults I do with clients… but not the biggie.

    Reply
Marcin says November 15, 2013

(I’m posting this again here, because I didn’t use the form right and posted it under someone else’s reply earlier on)

Here I go again (:

I really liked the Envy one, Ego is nice too. Jealousy… (:

But that’s probably not what your looking for.

Here we go:

Not taking life as it is, for what it is, and as it comes (I can’t find the right words, but I guess you know what I mean).

p.s. good thing I’m posting this again, I made a typo the last time “like” should have been “life”.

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ann moore says November 15, 2013

The biggest problem is not knowing who the ideal customer or client is. Who are you trying to reach and sell to. You need to imagine them as one person – think through every detail about them – get beyond the demographics and into the psychographics of what makes them who they really are. Think about the what their life is like – how they spend their leisure time and what luxuries they buy. Think about their values – what do they think about -care about – what keeps them awake at night. You need to be able to first identify them and then reach them on an emotional level.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Nice summation of prospecting a niche, but not the main problem entrepreneurs face.

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Raja Hireker says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I think the answer is PERSONAL BEHAVIOUR. (Lack of)

I think most clients do not possess the kind of personal, congruent behaviour that’s needed for compliance and alignment with the goals and strategies given out in your consulting.

Raja

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Dale H says November 15, 2013

Helping enough people solve their problems or giving them what they are looking for.

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bruce strong says November 15, 2013

how to get and hold good help/

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bruce strong says November 15, 2013

knowing when to expand their operations and take on assistants.

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John says November 15, 2013

It’s overcoming the propensity to to do the thing right, rather than do the right thing. They become pre-occupied with ladder climbing techniques and fail to ensure that it’s leant against the right tree first.They get bogged down with detail without ensuring that the fundamentals are in place first.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    This is an interesting problem that many have. Not the answer I’m looking for… but while I’m not accusing you of having this particular problem, John, you’ve reminded me of a side benefit of quizzes like this: The first answers we often come up with are personal issues we’ve struggled with. A good quiz can be like a Rorchach test — and it’s good to know what that kind of brain-plumbing can bring up.

    Thanks for the note.

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Reynaldo says November 15, 2013

Great book John, I got the kindle version..I will love get a copy signed by you.

here we go:

The BIG Problem is…how to find your Magic Power..in another words: USP …

Peace

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John Tietjen says November 15, 2013

Hi John, I think the #1 problem is what Zig Ziglar called “Stinking thinking”

It’s failing to take control or direct all the big and small thoughts going through your head everyday.

Lot of good answers above. Your thinking covers them all.
Thanks

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Phil Moore says November 15, 2013

Here’s my go – how about the abilty to find a hungry crowd then give them something they would love to devour

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Mike Noone says November 15, 2013

Hey John,
you’ve really put the cat among the pigeons here.

I am kind of basing my answer on over 20 years of working with clients and here’s what I hear so often.

People have wonderful ideas for a business and maybe even a biz plan.
The thing that stops them is that way deep down inside they don’t believe it.

Right there in the privacy of their own mind they don’t really believe that the idea will work OR that they are worthy of the Kudos, accolades and moolah that goes with having it work.

People self sabotage through no other reason than they bought into the crap that everyone else bought into, from everyone else.

That’s it. Plain simple.

Hope this helps…

Mike The Thai guy

PS: Once we stop believing everyone else’s crap and begin taking responsibility for and ownership of our own lives, pretty much anything is possible.

😉

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Sebastian Rupp says November 15, 2013

The biggest problem for most entrepreneurs is getting advice from people who haven’t been there.

For example…
What do you do if you are in the danger of a giant lawsuit which threats your whole business?

Only getting advice from a lawyer is the wrong way to do it.
You better also get advice from someone who also got sued and mastered the challenge.

Only this person can give you *real* advice how to handle this situation because he/she has already been there.

That’s the reason why mastermind groups are such an excellent experience. The chance is high that someone in the group has already faced a similar problem and that’s pure gold.

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Stacey Morgenstern says November 15, 2013

Yo JC, you got me with this one. Curiosity meter skyrocketing and of course I want the book.

#1 Problem with entrepreneurs is that they’re chasing entrepreneurship for the wrong reasons.

They are totally naive about the payoff. They think they’ll make easy money and live a cushy lifestyle, they think they’ll gain celebrity, cooler friends, hot chicks, a nicer car, and the internet marketing dream of making money while you sip pina colada’s on a hammock in the virgin islands.

And some will.

But if that’s your reason for being an entrepreneur you’re in for a long road of MISERY.

If what primarily motivates you is anything other than a throbbing boner for the work itself, you’re doomed.

No marketing advice, obstacle removal tools, persuasion ammunition, mentorship, business plan (god help you if you think your problem is not having a business plan) or diving deep into your “inner game” will make you successful.

You gotta LOVE the work like it’s the oxygen you breath. Without it, you’d die.

-Rockstar

PS – Yes coach, I said boner.

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Kevin says November 15, 2013

I think the number one problem is….

…Sorry, but I am too overwhelmed to come up with my own ideas about what might be number one at the moment, so I will have to borrow someone elses, and since no one else is here I am at a loss about what to do…I am alone, no one to ask, no one to answer, no one to discuss ideas with…

So who do you trust? A friend of twenty years will betray you for money and power so you have to start again (don’t ask) – and you are alone again. But you can’t do it in isolation, need help…..

The answer – myself, just myself, no one else, all alone, isolated, no one to watch my back, no one to give feedback…just me.

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Jay says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I think the number one problem for entrepreneurs is not acknowledging the fact that success is a process NOT an event. Everyone is looking for a “quick fix” and the “magic bullet” that will solve all their problems.

Perseverance is the key to success in the midst of all the sh*t life throws at you. Hang in there long enough, put in the hours and you’ll be rewarded.

Thanks

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    I had that note up on my office wall for years: Success is a process, not an event. It’s ingrained in my brain.

    Not what I’m looking for here, though. Thanks.

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Joe says November 15, 2013

John,

My guess is lack of delegation. Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean that you should.

After reaching a certain level of success, people tend to get pulled into every little nook and cranny of their business. They get too busy to grow their own business or end up getting sick of it all together. They need to delegate some tasks so they can take a step back and redraw the big picture or just take a breather.

-Joe

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Joakim Hansson says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

The number one problem entrepreneurs have is not the problem, but the way they think about the problem.

Having the the wrong mindset.

Joakim

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Wow, nice try at cloaking your answer in such broad terms that it just might have touched on the correct response, since it covers just about everything under the sun.

    But no, not precisely what I’m looking for. I’m chuckling at your answer, though — nice, sneaky way to approach the quiz. Thanks.

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Séan says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I’d say it’s doing the opposite of “Operation Money Suck”. Entrepreneurs try to do everything themselves – instead of only focusing on what brings home the bacon .

The old: “If you need something done – you better do it yourself” mentality. That’s my 2 cents anyhow.

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Robert Antwi says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I think an entrepreneurs biggest problem is Perfection

Best,
Robert

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Stacey Morgenstern says November 15, 2013

Oh, and just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you love working so much that you’d do it even if you weren’t being paid. There’s no such thing as an entrepreneur who works for free. This includes barters and trades too. An entrepreneur is friends with money, but it’s a really lovely, convenient, advantageous side benefit to winning the game of being a genius of your craft.

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Bob Bly says November 15, 2013

John, as a coach and advisor, how do you handle this situation: The client comes to you because they are not successful, they do not know what they are doing, and they know YOU do. Then when you give the advice, they argue or do not listen.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hi Bob. Yes, this is a common problem… and it’s the reason you need thick skin to become a good consultant, as you know.

    Not exactly the Big Kahuna problem I kept coming across in consults, though. Good to hear from you…

    Reply
Bruce says November 15, 2013

Here is my answer, learned from 7 years of helping my wife survive late stage cancer.
The problem is = Not adjusting/recalibrating and getting swiftly back in the right direction when bad things happen and/or when we find out that we have drifted in the wrong direction without our awareness.

We all have a goal we want to reach. But shit constantly happens and we get off course. Or we go off course on our own, even if shit doesn’t happen.
If we don’t constantly recalibrate and adjust, we will get somewhere. But it might not be the place and situation we wanted to reach.

Am I getting close John?

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hi Bruce. Glad to hear you speak of surviving cancer. It’s a gruesome life-change, but there are lessons to be learned from the struggle.

    Have you read “Psycho-Cybernetics”? It’s one of the early books that helped me in my career, and the good Doctor Maltz talks of the self-adjusting way of approaching goals so tangents don’t stop you.

    You’ve shared a good tactic for attaining goals, for sure, here. But it’s not the main problem I see.

    Reply
Vivienne says November 15, 2013

Let’s try again… They can’t seem to dump a loser project?
Entrepreneurs need to focus on a passion they share with a hungry market.

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Neil says November 15, 2013

Picking the right niche or product to sell

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Luke says November 15, 2013

It’s strange because i was going through these comments, I got about half way through and then it came to me. Working for the wrong reasons or doing work you are not passionate about.

I then scrolled down and the last comment (Stacy) has said the same thing.

But that’s my guess anyway.

As a second guess I would say being unhappy in general and lacking motivation would be a big problem.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    I see the “passion” thing come up a lot when talking to entrepreneurs generally about biz… but not when they’ve paid for a consultation with me. The reality is that, often, trying to follow your bliss can lead you far away from your other goals… especially if those other goals include paying the rent on time and making a dent in the world’s issues.

    I’m not knocking being passionate about your work. But there’s a lot of boring shit to be done in a day’s biz, a lot of things you’d rather not face, and a lot of struggle in between. For myself, the concept of working for myself was the big passion — working my own hours, in my own way, in a home office. What, precisely, I did in the course of each new gig was not put under the “passion” gauge. I often despised the early writing gigs I accepted, in fact. But I loved getting the check.

    So, as much as many want entrepreneurial success to be about “passion”, I heartily disagree with the notion. This puts me at odds with a number of other guru’s, and that’s fine. I’m coming from the reality of being in business, and reality doesn’t like artificial standards.

    Thanks for the note, Luke. It gave me a platform to clarify my position on this sub-subject. (And I believe Stacy would ultimately agree with me, though she IS in a biz niche she’s passionate about. That was a goal of hers, and it was important. For others, it can be a distraction.)

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Leon says November 15, 2013

Hey John

I think an entrepreneurs biggest problems are

[1] working in the same way when they know the results they are getting are not what they expected.

[2]Sometimes they do not measure expected against actual results and thus have no clear direction.

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Kieran Reed says November 15, 2013

The biggest problem most business owners face besides an overall lack of clarity in every facet of their business… is they don’t know their customers/clients, and because of this, marketing and getting clients is always hard… Most business owners have no idea who their clients are and what their clients want, so they are trying to win a game of poker with a blindfold on.

Stay fresh,

Kieran

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JM says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

Thanks for what you do. I think the number one problem is lack of training/mentorship from someone who’s been there before.

Thanks!

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Linda says November 15, 2013

I believe that the number 1 problem that any entrepreneur faces is fear. It could be any type of fear. Fear is paralysing and can prevent any project from getting started.

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Chesney says November 15, 2013

Clueless about marketing.

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Susie Nelson says November 15, 2013

I think the biggest problem is…NOT HAVING A DEADLINE. I believe you’re the guy who said, “Nothing Gets Done without a Deadline.” Right?

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Alexander says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I guess to make a MISTAKE is the biggest issue.

John, I want to thank you for your posts and quizs on your blog. It makes one thinking!

With best wishes from Germany, Berlin,

Alex

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Mac B. says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

Good question.

The problem is I am torn in my answer.

I think a real biggie and possibly the “number one” is that they DON’T do the market research. They just come up with a wing-ding idea and go, then they try to sell it.

Inventors are notorious for doing this.

In fact, didn’t Gary Halbert mention in the Boron Letters that some guy had approached him in prison about writing an advertisement for his “friend” who had come up with some “key type” invention? And Gary talked about how foolish this was just inventing stuff and then trying to sell it. In fact, a major running theme in Gary’s writing in the Boron Letters was getting familiar with the SRDS and “DOING” the market research, finding that hungry market, not just throwing some off-the-cuff invented shit into the wind and hoping it will sell.

And…

I said I was torn, because if that isn’t the number one thing, then perhaps it is entrepreneurs not forming a proper sales funnel. Having no back-end. Just running a revolving door business. Customer comes in, buys, and goes–gone for good. Tons lost in back-end sales. Not to mention, they get spanked in customer acquisition. It is so MUCH easier to get a sale from a customer that has already bought then it is to bring in a new one.

Ok, that’s my go at this.

Rock On!

All the best,

Mac Bull
“The American in Japan”

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    These are, indeed, both issues with entrepreneurs, and big enough to be in the Top Ten problems.

    But not the main problem I’ve seen.

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Terry Bahat says November 15, 2013

When a person changes something by creating ( in every ares of life ) he is bound to experience certain changes in himself… a quick , healthy dose of courage, adjustment, confidence, own attitude is essential to overcome these, stay on track and move on towards his desired goals.

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Ken Clark says November 15, 2013

Not paying enough attention to your foundational structure. Your system, funnel, if that is in place and set up correctly, any problem or issue will be obvious. Any problem can be traced back to the cause and immediately corrected, fixed, adjusted, rewritten…

Just my 2c….

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    Ken Clark says November 15, 2013

    P.S.
    Your system/foundation is built on intimate knowledge of your customer and market. What the pains, dreams and needs are…

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Mark E says November 15, 2013

Having already read “… getting your shit together”, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the #1 problem = Not knowing if there is a market for your product/service. Go out and “pre-sell” it before you design the damn website.

At least that’s what I’m doing with my latest business venture (A winery in the Caribbean)

Oh, and I’ll still take the signed copy if my answer is right 🙂

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Leslie Ehrin says November 15, 2013

Remembering to focus on discovering and providing what the market needs/wants, not trying to force the market to adopt a product the entrepreneur loves.

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Beverly says November 15, 2013

Hi John!

Not having read through all the posts and just putting my thoughts out there…

Here’s my take…. Getting out of your own way.

Thanks!
Beverly

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Flyn says November 15, 2013

Great ideas, great plans, lots of books and courses but failure to execute — failure to do something and then something else if that doesn’t work.

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Johan Dhaeseleer says November 15, 2013

Fixing the wrong bottleneck.

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Patrick says November 15, 2013

Knowing what step to take next.

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nancy ivey says November 15, 2013

Hi John
The number one issue holding entrepreneurs back is laziness. Just based on my own experience.

I want to do anything but sit and learn how to write and then write copy. I have a good vocabulary and want to increase my income, but I have my own business and would rather write killer copy for my own business and then use the rest of any free time to do all my other chores and build the infrastructure supporting my dream.

I like attending conferences, retreats and workshops and spend a lot on them but it takes time and money to afford them. Then I want to beautify my surroundings and learn mosaic so I have to procure the tools and supplies for that hobby and plan a design, lay it out with tedious tiny little tiles, then mortar and install on vertical walls grout, seal and polish.

I have to research all the nuances of the healing services that are my primary job and be my own publicist, blogger, accountant, marketer, copywriter, web designer, as well as play out the daily grind of my primary job

So when I have free time, I just want to meditate, paddle my kayak, ride my mtn bike or hike in the forest. I don’t want to work on researching someone else’s market, etc. I just want to look after my inner self.

This may be a troll of an answer being honest about not being all fired up to learn copywriting. I see its necessity but I am sluggish. Your provocative discourse makes you one of my favorite copywriters and I appreciate the great mentoring online.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hi Nancy. You will not find a lazier human being than me… though many of my colleagues are in the game… and we found ways around it. It’s a problem, but not a biggie. The ability to embrace your Inner Lazy Ass and still be successful is a primary reason many folks become entrepreneurs in the first place…

    On a deeper level, motivation becomes the issue. But that’s not the main problem I see, either…

    Reply
Rick says November 15, 2013

The number one problem is losing objective focus when problems arrive.
Often they will throw time and money on bad decisions and wonder why solutions didn’t work. Unfortunately they remain stubborn past the expiration date of their bad situation.

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Ana Tereza says November 15, 2013

Ok after careful thinking, hope I have this right now.

The number one obstacle is wasting time putting out the “fires”, instead of working on something that will bring in the money.

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Rick says November 15, 2013

Addendum to post.

The need to always look a t situations objectively and determine obstacles is necessary. I personally like the conflict resolution method to help in clarity.

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Matthew Hermanson says November 15, 2013

ME. Ourselves. Just depends upon what grammatical sense you’re using.

We think we know what we want. We think we can see ourselves in possession of the completed goal. But we really don’t.

As Earl Nightingale said, “We are what we think about.” Thus all that we have done (good and bad) is because that is what we thought about.

Our biggest limitation by far, bigger than all other things combined, is that we truly don’t see ourselves doing what we tell you what we want to do.

Thus our sub-conscience works “over-time” to keep us where we are to make us happy.

So my biggest challenge has been to truly see myself in the future in the life I am shooting for. And then figuring out what kind of a person becomes that future goal and then see myself as that kind of a person and practice doing those kinds of things that that kind person does now.

It is ok if you decide to give your book to someone else. Odds are that I would get more out of your book if I paid real money to get it rather than to have you just give it to me.

I think it is time to listen to and read KACSOAMR again.

Stay frosty man and thanks for everything. I’ll be chilling here in Iowa staying warm reading some David Ogilvy after I finish the Nap Hill book I’m in now.

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Jon Patrick says November 15, 2013

Good post, great answers… can’t wait to find out what it is…
But I’d say it’s finding an effective work/life balance in that quest for success. Enjoying the journey.

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Eric Dell says November 15, 2013

Taking massive action, of course!

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Bob Burger says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I believe the biggest hurdle to success is the baggage in our head. At the Success Magnet event, Heather used the word vulnerability. That may be the biggest hurdle to success. As entrepreneurs, we try new things that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. They are new and untested, which means they may fail. We may be laughed at. We may be told we are stupid. But, we still have to try. I think the fear of failure or actually having a piece fail keeps us from trying new and great things which would lead to great success. If we can break that barrier with knowledge and sometimes just plain old guts accept the risk of failure, we can achieve success. In most cases…easier said than done.

Thanks.
Bob

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John Q says November 15, 2013

The Biggest Obstacle that exists
whether it’s between an entrepreneur and prospect
or between consultant and client has got to be the
greatest force we live with,the abilty and effectiveness
or lack of the ability to PERSUADE
Without it WE do not exist

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David says November 15, 2013

The number one problem faced by entrepreneurs is trying to figure what all this “stuff” actually means. They thought becoming rich would solve their problems, but they still have a host of inner demons that need to be worked out. The number one problem is regarding self actualization and trying to not feel like all their endeavors have been for not and realizing it too late – after their wife has filed for divorce and their kids are off at college.

We need help finding meaning in our lives, but instead hide underneath the success of launch after launch or biz after biz.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hi David. Good answer, and definitely one of the problems entangled in the ultimate “right” answer here.

    But not, precisely, what I’m looking for.

    Reply
Steve says November 15, 2013

Entrepreneurs/people don’t have their shit together. They don’t know what to do, in what order to do it, how do it,and went to do it and your book answers those questions which is really the number one thing that entrepreneurs can do to get their shit & business together.

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Daryl Thompson says November 15, 2013

Based on my own experience and some of the clues I’m seeing, I’d say the Number One Problem faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success is…

Fear Of Failure.

Is that close?

Respectfully submitted by,

J. Daryl Thompson

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hey, Daryl, long time no hear from.

    Fear is big, and I gave some longer answers earlier in the thread, cuz it was coming up a lot. You know I have particular love-hate relationship with fear, and it’s huge in getting to levels of success…

    … but it’s not the main problem I see.

    Good to hear from you.

    Reply
Marek says November 15, 2013

the problem is not having right vision and mindset caused by lack of informations and by the people that surround them… something that make you not seeing the way … that is the problem I think …

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Jiyaad says November 15, 2013

Dear Mr. Carlton,

[I figured if I started with that, it would catch your eye 🙂 – hopefully it doesn’t disqualify me]

I think the biggest problem is thinking that if they are good technicians (plumber, accountant), that they will also thrive in that business. Classic e-myth stuff.

Thanks,
Jiyaad

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    I was wondering when someone would mention the E-Myth. Hope you saw my on-stage interview of Mr Gerber (from the first Action Seminar).

    Not the right answer, however.

    Reply
Mike Massie says November 15, 2013

John, for the newly minted entrepreneurs I work with, it’s almost always marketing. But, marketing is actually a pretty easy fix – it’s not hard to get customers when you get the right help.

But, what I’ve found in my own businesses, and with the more advanced clients that I coach in my industry, is that most entrepreneurs have never put their finger on a deep and abiding reason why…

Life is tough. Things go haywire. Promotions flop. Customers come and go. Business partners screw you. Etc.

The thing that kills many entrepreneurs who face these challenges (and we all do, at some point) is that they don’t have a deep enough gut to power through. And, that sort of gut is powered by their reason why. It has to be more than just making a fortune; that’s the weakest reason why of all…

Nope. You have to have a reason for getting up every day and doing what you do that goes waaaayyyy deeper than making a better buck than the next guy or gal. It has to be something that hooks you so deep in the entrails, every time you tug on it your proctologist calls you for an appointment.

So, it’s finding a deep and abiding reason why, one that wakes up your passion and shakes you to the core of your soul.

That’s my take on it.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Good answer, Mike. I like your thinking.

    Not what I’m after, though. The answer I share may surprise you…

    Reply
Duston McGroarty says November 15, 2013

Hey John – my answer is similar to Ana Terez’ above, except for the first part.

SHORT ANSWER:
Ignore shiny objects and focus on work that brings in money.

LONG ANSWER:
For me and for our business, the number one problem we have faced is dealing with “Shiny Objects”. The past three years we have bought just about every new product offered by “gurus”, all teaching the latest and greatest way to “make your business better”.

We’ve joined two different high-level mastermind groups where the advice has always been… “You need to be doing X”, where X is always some new fandangled way to siphon money from peoples’ wallets.

The real solution for us (which we discovered over the last few months) is to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the past 15 years that has ALWAYS made us money… except we need to do MORE of it.

If we only realized this 3 years ago, we’d be so much further ahead.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    This is a huge realization that even veteran successful entrepreneurs have to keep learning, over and over again. Very good answer, Duston… especially since I’ve observed over the years that many folks become entrepreneurs because of ADHD, dyslexia, or other so-called “learning problems” that made them poor students, and even poorer employees in a J-O-B.

    Shiny Object Syndrome is a very real problem.

    But not the big one.

    Reply
Eric Rollings says November 15, 2013

Taking action! My first response was going to be copy, but I’ve bought every damn thing I thought would help me change my business model to 90% info marketing. I have all the info I need, taking action is key! Knowledge is not power. Applied knowledge is power.
So then to my second answer, COPY! Knowledge wise, I am in the top 5% of all credit repair company owners in the US. I worked hard to separate myself from the scoundrels out there! Unless I learn to write killer copy that provokes action ( I did recently buy your “Kick Ass Copy Writing Secrets”) it doesn’t matter how good I am. BTW- I invested around $2,500 with another famous copy writer and i learned more about writing copy on your $99 course than in the 12 DVDs, 4 manuals, 700 CDs I got from the other guy. Not knocking him, he did what he’s supposed to do. Get me to spend my money. You provided condensed VALUE!Nuts and bolts! Because of that I have referred you to everyone I know in business except my competition.

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Dennis says November 15, 2013

Resilience. The ability to bounce back and stay the course through doubt, fear and challenges. We give up too easily and too quickly.

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Henry Bingaman says November 15, 2013

I had a discussion a few years ago with a client that has 30 some years of experience starting and running all kinds of businesses. Newsletters, pizza shops, art stores, movie deals, real estate… you name it, he’s probably tinkered with it.

He was explaining the difference between the ventures that went on to make him millions and the ones that flopped.

The line that always stuck with me is “The things you don’t know you don’t know are the things that kill your business.”

And that’s been pretty accurate with entrepreneurs I’ve known since then who failed or gave up.

A restaurant owner will bankrupt himself spending money on marketing when his real problem is food and beverage costs… A newsletter publisher will go out of business trying to make their backends work when the problem is they’re not getting enough new front-end subscribers…

The number one problem I see in entrepreneurs (and CEOs, managers, and even a lot of freelance copywriters) is that they don’t even know what their problem really is.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Nicely put, Henry. Perhaps close to the answer I’ll be sharing, but not right on the nut.

    Reply
      Henry Bingaman says November 16, 2013

      …and that’s second most important business lesson… You don’t have to be wrong to not get it right.

      Looking forward to your answer.

      Reply
Nathalie Lussier says November 15, 2013

I’m really enjoying reading all the answers, and also how you’re shooting ’em all down. 😉

I’m going to go with #1 problem: lack of priorities.

I feel like we all have great ideas, new things to learn, shit to implement… but if we’re not prioritizing these in the right order then we’re not really doing the important things that will move the needle in our businesses.

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Suzanne Michael says November 15, 2013

#1 Crime: Audiences today WILL NOT Accept your company messages, copy, ads, BEING BORING! They are fickle and flighty and easily distracted, they Need to be Interested! Or you will perish…

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John Craig says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I think the number 1 fear from the entrepreneurs I know (myself included) is CHANGE. To be successful, most people have to make changes in their life…..some are small, others are major. It’s not easy…I know !!!

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Linus Rylander says November 15, 2013

Gonna go with some of my own vocabulary: emotional autonomy. Or rather, the lack thereof.

Emotional resilience would be another way to put it, but perhaps not as accurate.

Having emotional autonomy lets you take proactive action, and not make decisions based on fear or pressure or whatever other flavor of reactivity.

Another way to express this idea is a classic Dan Kennedy quote: “The biggest attractor of wealth I know is ‘immunity to criticism.'”

Close?

Book is fantastic btw. Bought the kindle version when you launched it. Halfway through a re-read. Cheers.

Linus

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    You made me think about this, Linus. Not the right answer, but a definite issue with some entrepreneurs.

    However, as I look back, I’ve known a LOT of emotionally-wounded, psychically damaged folks who did quite well in biz. They were twisted wrecks as human beings, took things personally, and got divorced regularly. But they consistently earned moolah hand over fist…

    Weird part of the human tree, entrepreneurs…

    Reply
Aviva Boxer says November 15, 2013

The biggest problem for the entrepreneur is NOT really knowing or communicating with and about the biggest problem, the Big Kahuna problem of their Customer and speaking directly to that hot, uncomfortable ‘jonesing’ type place in them when they sell their idea, product or service. .

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Sam says November 15, 2013

What is the number 1 problem entrepreneurs face in their quest for success?

Truly Identifying the market we are in.. Surely…

Pitching to the wrong market (no matter how wonderful our copy, product or service is) is about as useless as tits on a man…

This is where mentoring can be enlightening, because most of us don’t look outside the microscope of our own industries for any potential markets or prospects (Been there, done that…) Mostly because we don’t have any experience outside our own industry.
The assistance and guidance a mentor, with a bit more scope and experience within a cross section of markets, can bring to the table, can be the difference between success and failure.

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Sam says November 15, 2013

Q; What is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success?
A: A clear concise picture of our ULTIMATE desired outcome, before we even start.

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    Sam says November 15, 2013

    Q; What is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success?
    A: LACK of a clear concise picture of our ULTIMATE desired outcome, before we even start.

    Reply
DrGeorge says November 15, 2013

…Selling what THEY like instead of what the CUSTOMER wants.

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colli christante says November 15, 2013

Hi John

The enemy is resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why he can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.

A professional distances herself from her instrument. The pro stands at one remove from her instrument — meaning her person, her body, her voice, her talent; the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological being she uses in her work. She does not identify with this instrument. It is simply what God gave her, what she has to work with. She assesses it coolly, impersonally, objectively.

Does Madonna walk around the house in cone bras and come-f*k-me bustiers? She’s too busy planning D-Day. Madonna does not identify with “Madonna.” Madonna employs “Madonna.”

In kindness,
Colli K Christante

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Wait… you mean to suggest that Madonna DOESN’T do housework in cone bras?

    You’ve crushed my 80s fantasy, Colli.

    Nice thinking on the “distance from instrument” thing, though as a musician I might argue that at a certain point you “become” your instrument (as I instantly meld now with my keyboard when writing)… but not the answer I’m looking for.

    Reply
Akihiro says November 15, 2013

Hi John

I think Number one problem is “Try to be Mr.Perfect”.
Entrepreneurs don’t have to be Mr.Perfect.

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Brandon Stewart says November 15, 2013

Not having a plan… to make money.

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Lee Kendrick says November 15, 2013

Their lack of a true 100% commitment.

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Bob says November 15, 2013

No 1 Problem: ACTION

You get get all the ideas that you want,
Read all about the best marketing strategies,
Get he latest shiny whiz-bang lead generating capture page generating WordPress plugin (with orange buttons),
read all the best blog posts,
… and reach the end of the day and STILL haven’t implemented anything to make a dime.

Flip your day and DO SOMETHING the first thing in the morning that actually will bring you money and success will approach.

(I know, because I’ve got this problem!)

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hi Bob. No, it’s not taking action. Getting stuck can be a problem, but it’s not the main struggle I see in consults…

    Reply
Hal Smith says November 15, 2013

Hi John,
Great way to get everyone thinking, my thoughts on this is that the business owner continues as a technician, and does not move into the role as CEO. This coupled with thinking that his/her business is so unique that things that work in other businesses will not work in their business.

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James says November 15, 2013

Right then John, gonna throw my hat into the ring here for my shot, so here goes…

Most of the answers are great, and I would have probably chosen something along the lines of “just get the damn thing done”, but being sneaky and trying to find that clue in the answer you gave to Ozan, I’m going to give my answer simply as this – getting paid.

True, you’ve got to be in it for the love too, but if you don’t or can’t charge appropriately for a job well done (be it a service, product or whatever), and your bills are piling up, you’re not going to stay in business for long, which doesn’t do either you or your customers any good in the long haul.

How’d I do?

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William says November 15, 2013

Hello John, I think (maybe) the number one answer would be continued learning. Just like you and Gary Halbert, kept yourselves sharp by teaching each other when you were his apprentice.

For me book learning isn’t the same as having a good mentor teaching you from their experience.

This may not be the right answer but I think it is a good one.

All the best…

P.S. Can I get a signed book even though I might not win?

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Bob says November 15, 2013

…posted my first guess before reading all the others

The problem is not designing the lifestyle that you want to live and instead living just for your business.

All work and no play.

Not realizing the regenerative power of doing what you want to do instead of what your business demands (or could demand if you spent all your time working)

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Matt says November 15, 2013

Question: What is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success?

My answer: Letting unexpected obstacles discourage them to the point of giving up.

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Raymond Duke says November 15, 2013

Here is my answer: the number one problem you encounter as consultant for entrepreneurs is finding out they are not prepared for success.

Are entrepreneurs prepared to open the door once success comes a-knockin’?

Are they ready to be a good host, serve the right drink and play the right music?

Basically…

Are entrepreneurs ready to deal with an influx new customers in blink of an eye?

Most entrepreneurs that come to you for help are not ready. They are not prepared for growth. They don’t know how to manage going from 5 to 12 figures a month.

This is a stab in a the dark – totally closing my eyes and shooting in the room here. My answer is based on the fact that you have the power to scale someone’s bidness’ to the nth degree. So even if the answer is wrong, I was still able slip in a compliment here.

All the best, John. You are one of my favorite copywriters. I’d like to sit in a room with you and John E. Powers and take notes. Maybe in another life…

Raymond Duke
Fellow Cucamongian

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hey, always glad to hear from another dweller of the Cucamonga valley.

    Success has its own set of unique and unpredictable problems, yes. But that’s not what I see in consults…

    Reply
Tony says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

From all the quick firing answers above it looked like I’m a little late to the party.

I’m however, going to throw my hat in the ring and say the answer is “ego”.

The ego the client has invested in their own personal myth.

Tony

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Patricia Reszetylo says November 15, 2013

Ha – it’s finding that starving crowd, finding out EXACTLY what they want, how they want it, when they want it – and then giving it to them in such a “crack dealer” way that they come back over and over…

But it starts with the starving crowd.. doesn’t it?

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Julia Kline says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

Just picked up a copy of your book – looking forward to digging in on my next flight. (and we’re now bonded in a unique kinda way. MY book, published before yours so not a rip-off LOL, is called The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sleaze-Free Selling. Anyway …)

I thought the big clue in your original post was “details.” And in my own consulting practice, the big problem I see in the entrepreneurs I work with is not knowing the difference between a strategic plan and implementation. Or, they get an idea and fly into action without stopping to write out the steps. If they did, most of the time they would give the steps to someone else to do (or at least to a different part of their own selves, once the big-picture thinking was done). It solves most of the BIG problems – lack of implementation, better results, less dejection and quitting over failed attempts, etc etc etc.

But then you said that Ozan’s answer was really damn close. So I’m trying to figure out if lack of a strategic plan could also lead to an inability to handle the ups and down of life … but I think I’m pushing a round into a square here.

But hell, I’m sticking with my first answer – it’s the inability to implement the details effectively while simultaneously providing big-picture vision.

Julia

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hey, congrats on your book.

    Good, intuitive answer, too. But not what I’m after…

    Reply
Roshan says November 15, 2013

Hello John

I feel the biggest obstacle faced by entrpreneurs is lack of time(or time management skills).

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John says November 15, 2013

Thinking “My business is different” or “my clients are too sophisticated for that” and failing to implement proven direct response strategies.

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sean says November 15, 2013

This is one tough nut to crack, John.

F*$%#n awesome question!

How about under capitalized.

Isn’t it always, one way or another, about the money?

Later

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Terry says November 15, 2013

John –
Mental attitude is my No. 1 issue – that nagging subconscious lack of belief in the possibility of success. It’s deep-seated, insidious and unbelievably powerful. Without a firm belief that success is possible, the struggle is momentous.

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Christina K says November 15, 2013

Ability to prioritize and focus on the right things to be successful instead of being distracted day after day by red herrings.

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Kara says November 15, 2013

So, here’s the question: Based on what you’ve discovered in your 30 years of consulting, what is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success?

“businesses suck at writing things”

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Juan says November 15, 2013

I think the biggest problem with entrepreneurs always have been how they do not want to be (in their minds) shown off by an employee or hired gun. They think things should be done a certain way (whether it’s marketing, advertising, or any other aspect of their business), and that’s the way it should be.

This is what creates the “Business Alpha Males” that protect their ideas and views – even if it is detrimental to their business.

Copywriters see this a lot, because entrepreneurs really do not know their customer. They are so busy with other aspects of their business, that they really do not have enough time to do real research on who buys their products.

Unfortunately, this leads to arguments where (while you might be able to get through the ‘preneur’s skull) the majority of them cast you aside and decide to hire someone who shares their views.

The results – most of the time, business go belly-up because the proper measures were not taken.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    A definite, definable problem… but not the huge one I see all the time.

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Neil says November 15, 2013

Quite a simple answer to be had. The number one problem faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success is that voice in the space between their ears. Overcoming beliefs is the beginning, but even more so comes to the idea of hope.

If you wake up in the morning with hope ( not my sister’s friend Hope – although that’d be kinda cool, too … and would be a contributing factor for not creating entrepreneurial success ) you can believe that you can do something.

Until that little effing voice wakes up and reminds us of past failures, unsupportive family members and friends – who had our best interest at heart – and the doubt creeps in.

Without a solid belief in one’s ability, can one really move forward?

That being said, the number one problem is that the entrepreneur feels he/she has to go at this all alone and therefore does not look to find a coach/mentor to help them “see” the opportunities or steps to take that may be missed by the untrained eye.

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w says November 15, 2013

Information overload causing lack of focus.

The shiny thing syndrome so-to-speak.

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Eddy Piasentin says November 15, 2013

John, I think the biggest challenge is making the sale (getting paid). One way or another, with all the work and effort involved in getting a business off the ground, there comes a time when you need to sell something.

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Matt Makowski says November 15, 2013

I have your book on Kindle…so I am working through it…tho’ I can’t call it work. Surprisingly enjoyable which is why you are the maestro. So the number one challenge for entrepreneurs is Consistency. Consistent pressure on whatever the task is that will yield the greatest returns. It’s certainly my greatest challenge because in the fable of the grasshopper and the ant…I am the grasshopper. Happy happy.

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Mel says November 15, 2013

Hey John,

Congrats on your book!

The problem that derails entrepreneurs from achieving their ultimate success is:

Not understanding the “cost” of success. Failing to list and embrace what must be given up in exchange for what must be done to succeed.

It’s an approach (or lack) that will always bites your butt at some level (internal and external) and undermines true success.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Good answer, but not the one I’m after.

    Remember, folks, my answer will be what I’ve observed over decades of consulting with clients. There’s something going on with entrepreneurs that very commonly holds them back… and it’s a problem with veterans as well as rookies. And, it’s a problem that can pop up even with dudes who’ve already BEEN successful to some point.

    Nearly all the answers in this now-very-long thread are good, and many of the suggestions ARE things that pop up in consultations, and hold folks back…

    … but it’s not the core, #1 problem I see over and over again.

    I’ve loaded this thread with clues. As you might guess, it’s quite likely the correct answer has already been given. However, recall that I’m also giving out a signed book to the “best” answer, too. There are candidates for that prize, but still time to persuade me…

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Ray says November 15, 2013

A lot of good answers. Some I would’ve said myself. So since those are taken, I’ll throw my two cents in…

Entrepreneurs have difficulty doing the work, the “right” work.

Action can be confused as work, but too many confuse busy work with work that affects the bottom line.

Work that creates, instead of consumes.
Work that builds good habits everyday.

Once they are doing the right type of work, they need to make sure they are doing a lot of it.

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Mike W. says November 15, 2013

FEAR!

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Mike W. says November 15, 2013

FEAR

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Joe Gerhard says November 15, 2013

Hey John, thanks for shaking things up! I really admire that about you.

The number one problem faced by most entrepreneurs is not having a stash of “UP YOURS Money.” One big enough to walk away from the bullshit opportunities you’d take just to feed yourself and be able to focus on what’ll get you to the promised land.

To build an “up yours” stash you need to live below your means and religiously bank cash … even when things seem grim. It’s a law of nature that if you do this, more money and prosperity will follow.

Take every entrepreneurial success along your path and bank some profit – don’t blow all of it like a damn fool.

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JAQUI MILES says November 15, 2013

The number one problem of entrepreneurs is thinking that an obstacle is a game stopper rather than a learning experience. Henry Ford wasn’t successful on the first try, but he did not give up.

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Eugenie Verney says November 15, 2013

I’d say it’s having no idea who you’re talking to because you’ve failed to clearly define your market.

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Mc says November 15, 2013

Having an end in mind and the reverse engineer from there. And clarity and commitment. Peace
Have a great weekend.

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ALDON says November 15, 2013

Clients feel overwhelmed with the amount of work necessary to create a successful and do not know how they are going to find the time to complete everything.

Aldon

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Rob Lehrer says November 15, 2013

Hi John,
I’m a graduate of the valuable SWS course.

The number one problem faced by entrepreneurs is

THEMSELVES.

We get in our own way of success. One way to get us out of our own way is to have a laser like focus on what’s important. It was well explained by Curly in the movie “City Slickers.”

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: That’s what you have to find out.

Best,
Rob

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Funny.

    A lot of folks have answered similarly, and for some folks they really are in their own way.

    But it’s not the answer I’m looking for.

    Reply
Bill says November 15, 2013

I’ll just quote Sir Gary.

Self esteem is everything: The first “must have” for success is… the honest-to-God, no-bullshit belief you deserve success!

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Mel says November 15, 2013

Perhaps it’s the inability or lack of desire to repeat and expand upon what is really working (with testing) and conversely reduce or eliminate what isn’t. In both business and life these things must be identified first and then followed through on.

Thank you!

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Ray Wood says November 15, 2013

The content from this blog would make an excellent eBook John. Just call it ‘The Answer’

Who knows what your #1 issue is. For me it’s the executing the actual roll-out and implementation of a good idea.

Most wannabe entrepreneurs are great at lighting fires but crap at remembering to put more wood on and hanging around to see it build up to the point where they get to enjoy the warmth.

It’s getting from concept to the launch pad and pulling the trigger.

It’s the ocean of tasks and detail needed to get the thing off the ground… but once you do… you’re addicted!

Cheers Ray. Toronto.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    You’re right, Ray — just going through the comment thread here is a mini-education the way your fellow entrepreneurs think about problems, and what they believe is the main stumbling block of other entrepreneurs.

    In an obscure way, this touches on the right answer… but it’s not exactly right.

    The answer I’ll share is profoundly simple. That’s a clue, by the way.

    Simple, but with implications to everything else you do in life and biz.

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Kip Lytle says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

long-time (for me) in communicating with you. Had a Gliosarcoma brain tumor removed Aug 12th, and since then, have been living by doing the one thing every business owner MUST do for success … TAKING ACTION. I’ve taken more action and changed my life (and future outcomes) more in the past 4 months, than in the previous 40 months. TAKE ACTION is the answer. A Not So Frosty Kip (hyperthermia treatments raise my core body temp well past the “frosty” state! :))

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Wow, Kip. Thanks for letting us know you got through that operation all right. Hope your recovery is fast, so you can continue on this new action path, pal.

    “Action” keeps coming up in answers, and for many entrepreneurs it really IS the big obstacle to get past. At first, anyway. As Kip points out, once you adopt the habit of acting you start feeling uncomfortable NOT acting… so you’ve changed the way you interact with the entire world.

    However, often that new sense of movement will just bring you face-to-face with the Big Problem that was just beyond the trees before. And that’s the problem I want to illuminate here…

    Thanks for writing, Kip.

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Niels says November 15, 2013

Forgetting about real life. Now you are so busy being an entrepreneur, but who are you really? Are you taking on some kind of persona that you think fits with being an entrepreneur? How are you going to connect with your customers that way?

Have a life! A real honest to God life. Have interests, be interested. Look, listen, learn. It can be an unbalanced life if you have the means to pull that off. Who care about balance? Do you want to love someone in a balanced way? Of course not. Your life should be extravagant too, like your love life.

Have a life!

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Ron says November 15, 2013

Hi John, Love this quiz.

I Believe the answer is Belief. As in most endeavors 10% is physical and 90% is mental. You need the strong belief in idea’s and self to accomplish no matter what happens. It gives you the stubborn drive to get up,keep going, and try, try again.

The belief develops the faith that creates the vision that you have what it takes to make it no matter what happens!

My opinion is that it is the belief in your self to go look in that mirror and say I Can Do This! I Have What It Takes!

Without this Belief pr Faith in yourself everything can slow you down and cause you to falter.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hi Ron. Belief systems come and go, and I know that while I partook of self-help books and lots of mantras regarding attaining goals in my early career… the actual act of eliminating my fear, and boosting my confidence enough to get through those first meetings with clients (when I was a raw rookie barely qualified to write the jobs), was just one step of the process.

    Like taking action, adopting the mindset of believing you can do something (or at least knowing you can learn from the looming disaster, so you’ll not repeat the mistakes), is a necessary tool in your kit.

    But it’s not the Big Problem most entrepreneurs I’ve consulted with face.

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Stacy Sare says November 15, 2013

Hi John,

I’d say the the things that gets in the way of entrepreneurs is not knowing when they’ve got a diamond or struck gold (the hook) like the one legged golfer story when the guy says, “No one is interested in knowing that.”

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Sean says November 15, 2013

Spreading themselves too thin!

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Paul Cormier says November 15, 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the guesses, and I’m sure some of the answers are actually the correct #1 problem for some entrepreneurs. I’ll cull from my own experiences working with entrepreneurs and say the #1 problem faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success is their inability to find a way to solve or surmount problems.

Lots of entrepreneurs are like Sisyphus, they have a goal (getting the rock to the top of the hill), they’re taking action (pushing the rock up the hill), they’re definitely working hard, and gaining ground as they work, but they fail to see the real “problem” before them, nor the true goal that should be achieved.

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Roger says November 15, 2013

#1 Problem…No Deadline…or not having a deadline.

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Carlos says November 15, 2013

The number one problem faced by entrepreneurs is understanding psychology. Humans are part producers and part consumers. Therefore, there is “Producer Psychology” and “Consumer Psychology.” In business, you are the producer.

Producer Psychology
You have to understand your own psychology so you don’t set limits to your success. You can set the limit to the amount of money you think you can make (produce) in one year or how fast you can make (produce) money.

Consumer Psychology
You have to understand that their is a basic human shared consumer psychology. This is where salesmanship comes in. If you understand that humans like to win things like a signed book, then you just tapped into their consumer psychology.

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Chris says November 15, 2013

Hi John – love all your stuff. Your copywriting course, freelance marketing course, your articles and recordings, and your book. I bought the Kindle version, and I can’t wait to get the print version in the mail, signed by you.

I think the answer to your question has something to do with entrepreneurs not matching their product or service being offered to what their market actually wants. It it ain’t what they want, they ain’t going to buy it. If it is what they want, and they know about it, they’ll come a -knockin’…

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hi Chris. Glad you already own the book.

    The “market match” stuff is important, but it’s not been a huge issue with clients I’ve consulted with. It’s such a primary problem, and can be solved so easily (and often without going through the consulting process), that it doesn’t come up much.

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James says November 15, 2013

I got two guesses for you…

1. Focusing on ONE thing at a time, and getting it done.

2. Finding out, and giving the market what it wants (not what you think it wants).

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Stephen Anderson says November 15, 2013

John,

Thak you for the opportunity but I will not take away a chance to win for some younger people.

I am 68 years old and I afraid you might out live me. Books/arttists’ work don’t really appreciate in value until the author/artist dies!

I don’t want the guilt hanging over my head if something unforseen happens to you. This way I know you will live a long, fruitful life.

Kicking and scratching in Vermont,

Stephen Anderson

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Nick says November 15, 2013

My two guesses:

Looking at the world the way they want it to be, instead of how it really is.

Focusing on what they want to sell, instead of what their customers want to buy.

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JT says November 15, 2013

Time

Time is the #1 problem face by Entrepreneurs. Time to work on your business, market, plan, etc..

Time to work on and improve your own ability and skills

Time to have an outside of work life

Taking time to process and ponder all of the above

I was also heard that “Fear is the Mind Killer”, but that could have been in a movie or something.

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Moelwyn says November 15, 2013

Fear of failure/thinking they are not worthy.

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Brian Kevin Johnston says November 15, 2013

Sales/Revenue

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Moelwyn says November 15, 2013

Second and final shot – Paralysis caused by not having a plan B.

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Graham says November 15, 2013

I think that the biggest problem faced by entrepreneurs is to be able to step out of their own worldview or belief system and step into the worldview of their prospect and customer, and speak to the prospect in a way that she feels that the entrepreneur understands him.

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Sabeel says November 15, 2013

The number one problem faced by entrepreneurs is knowing when to say “No”.

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Dan Bulleit says November 15, 2013

Knowing what you want

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Dan Bulleit says November 15, 2013

A plan

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Dan Bulleit says November 15, 2013

A mentor

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Jim Rose says November 15, 2013

Hi John,
Second attempt, showing some persistence for once.
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” Maybe the biggest problem is to be vigilant and flexible and prepared to immediately change course in mid stream when it is indicated.

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Gerard says November 15, 2013

Hey John,

The #1 problem faced by entrepreneurs is…
ego-centrism, the view that THEY are the center of the universe, and therefore ALL answers must come from themselves!

In one word: it’s themselves!

It’s endemic in our human-animalistic natures; that is, the ying-yang duality built-in to all of us. We are simultaneously the best and the worse for ourselves – positive & negative, etc.

As entrepreneurs, our ‘stripes’ (like zebras) are such that we can reach “a level” of success, perhaps even great success! However we can only go so far, a point is reached inevitably where growth by itself, will require OTHER talent(s), solution(s), answer(s) or deployment(s) — that we may or may not have.

When that point/wall is reached (hit), the entrepreneur continues to slam up against the wall (throwing the same stuff up against the wall always used in the past), or freezes, maybe panics. Hence, the confusion and “deer in the headlights” bewilderment.

The challenge is…
how do we unlearn what we’ve learned throughout our business lives? It’s akin to the circular problem — “not knowing what we don’t know.”

It’s difficult (at the very least)!
As the saying says: “if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail?”

What is that song that comes to mind? “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land…”

As for the underlying psychological reasons — everyone should at least take a Psych 101 class, and maybe 1 or 2 more…it’ll slap the humility back into us where it belongs, PRONTO!

Best,
~GRO

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Joey says November 15, 2013

The meaning of success. Knowing what success means to us, not the meaning that has been instilled in us from our parents, teachers, siblings, peers, media, etc. We see and hear what other people define as success, but when we obtain “success”, it is then that we realize that we’re still not happy, even we are filthy rich.

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Emmanuel Sefa says November 15, 2013

Lack of capital and ideas.

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Mpampis says November 15, 2013

Getting a mentor / coach / teacher who:

1. HAS achieved the Success one is seeking, and preferably more.

2. Is compatible / a good fit with.

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Reynaldo says November 15, 2013

when you go to your dentist, you do not tell him how to solve your problem.

But entrepreneurs are different … they are always sticking her oar in where is not wanted

Obrigado,
Reynaldo from Brazil

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Tony says November 15, 2013

I’m gonna say it’s lack of specific, well-defined goals. Not having a clear goal in mind, just a vague feeling of “I want to improve my business”. Without clear goals its easy to be unsure of what to do next. Clearly defined goals help.

My $0.02 anyway.

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thomas says November 15, 2013

…what is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success?

Simple -“Getting Started”. Procrastination is a bitch!

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Mpampis says November 15, 2013

LOL. John, it is amazing that you provided a hint in your letter above, mentioned about it, but few realized it.

Hey, people, John told you what he wants to hear!

And, as any good marketer does, give John what he wants!

🙂

Ps. John, It would be quite “embarrassing” if I didn’t get it right in my post, if you know what I mean…

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Gail Maslack says November 15, 2013

I would have to say your mindset. Your way of thinking hasn’t made you successful yet so it would have to mean that your way of thinking about success needs to be further learned and developed. I know it changed my business:)

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Harold says November 15, 2013

The NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs is not clearly answering the question “What business am I in?” in a way that creates a stand-above-the-crowd, elegantly simple, highly actionable Unique Selling Proposition and then building the business around that USP with an unrelenting laser-like focus.

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Michelle says November 15, 2013

John,

While I’ve heard of your mystical and magical ways for years, this is the first time I’ve ventured over to your digital front door, as it were.

As an entrepreneur, I know I have many fears, even when I don’t want to admit it –but this post isn’t about me — it’s about the biggest fear you’ve seen with your clients. So that sent me on a little tour through your blog, and I believe the answer is the ‘Great Unknown Future’.

The unknowing of all the things we have no control over, and overcoming that to reach deep within ourselves and leap, even though we can’t see the net.

Not knowing that a drop in the housing market can mean disposable spending drying up, which leads to sales dropping, which leads to … oh wait this wasn’t about me, was it?

Thanks for the quiz and the chance to get to know you a little more, digitally.

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Welcome to the monkey house, Goddess. Good to have you here.

    Not the answer I’m looking for, though a nice turn of phrase there with “Great Unknown Future”. Part of the cognitive dissonance of being human, when our neo-cortex freaks out over the ability to envision, but not always direct the future. Ah, the consequences of expanding consciousness…

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Ryan Healy says November 15, 2013

Hey John – Really hard to say what the number one problem is. Kinda depends on where the entrepreneur is in his journey. Somebody starting out may have fear of success – what if what I’m doing actually works?

Two fairly big problems for entrepreneurs are:

1. Inability to control money effectively. No matter how much they make, they seem to handle their money poorly.

2. Inability to set up systems that run the business in place of the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have the “nobody does it better” syndrome and often hesitate to delegate. I know of a multimillion dollar business that is suffering right now because the owner never effectively replaced himself.

By the way, I’m reading your book right now on my Kindle. I’m really enjoying it. Thanks for taking the time to write it. 🙂

Ryan

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    John Carlton says November 15, 2013

    Hey, thanks for the kudo’s on the book, Ryan.

    Good insight to the entrepreneurial mind, too, as always. You’ve come oh-so-close to the answer…

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Geoff Davis says November 15, 2013

Themselves

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Marcin says November 15, 2013

Here I go again…

I’ve got three for you (is that allowed?). Anyways…

1. Not understanding human nature

2. Arrogance (that blinds us)

3. Decisiveness

How about that?

p.s. John, what’s your best substitute for using emoticons? When you really, really want to emphasize your laughing or smiling and when the reader doesn’t know “your voice”.

p.p.s. This quiz is fun!

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    Marcin says November 15, 2013

    I guess I should have wrote being indecisive… (instead of decisive)

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Marcin says November 16, 2013

For me it’s boredom…

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    Marcin says November 16, 2013

    Which I guess is a twisted form of selfishness.

    Sorry for hogging up the content space. It’s a nice conversation. Not much people around were I live that I can talk about these kind of things. So, thanks John! Nice little brain exercise. Ha. That’s another answer… Letting your brain go into mode.

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Dana H says November 16, 2013

They spend too much time working and not enough time living. They don’t get away from “it”(work) enough because they’re trying so hard, too hard, to be successful and they’re not enjoying life anymore.

In essence, they become the business. Without them, nothing works right. And even sometimes with them, nothing works right. Kinda like staring at a computer screen too long. After awhile everything gets hazy and you can’t even see what you’re supposed to do.

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Jay says November 16, 2013

Alright here is my second try.

I remember you talking about this on various occasions. I think a major problem with entrepreneurs – especially ones who are just starting out – is trying to go at it all alone.

Trying to be the Jack of all trades because of a misguided belief that no one else can do it as perfect as them – after all it’s their business.

“Why should I trust anyone else? What if they don’t do a good job?”

This often leads to overwhelm and an inability to focus on things that are important. If you are responsible for bringing in the moolah in your business – that’s all you should be focusing on. Everything else is secondary. Period.

Jay

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Terry says November 16, 2013

Hi John,

Greetings from down under. Love your work John. I think it is getting out of your own bloody way.

Cheers
Terry

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John Q says November 16, 2013

What is the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM faced by entrepreneurs in their quest for success?

Let’s end this madness…
Stop going so deep,
We all know the Core #1 Problem that’s causing businesses
of all sizes to struggle,never hit their mark,or even perish is… drum roll please- their FAILURE to reach out and get the right help they need in the first place-I mean does the average business owner even know who to call?
Sometimes the answer is so simple, we can’t see it.
Fun stuff.

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Niels says November 16, 2013

OK, second try.

Have a year’s worth of money in the bank. Without that money, you feel you have to say yes to the craziest things. When you have saved your money, you have power to make the right decisions for your business.

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Terry says November 16, 2013

I think it would be not having a mentor like you, when in need of advice.

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George says November 16, 2013

Hi There,

The problem is.. Marketing..that is proper and adequate. targetted marketing.

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Orestes says November 16, 2013

Hi! John,

First Felicidades on your new book.

Now my answer is:to have an honest and expert coach and be
an humble student of him or her.

Blessings!

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Wynn Free says November 16, 2013

The biggest obstacle of a new entrepreneur, in my opinion, is not understanding the importance of testing. They will try something and when it doesn’t work, they’ll get discouraged and give up. If they keep trying different variations, different approaches, even different products, they will eventually “hit”. They have to find a product that they truly believe in and then they have to find a way to present that product so that other people will tap into the value of the product and then they have to figure the right price point so that when people find value in the product they will spend the money. Small variations will make huge differences so someone may fail numerous times before they get all the ingredients right. But once they get it, they’re on their way.

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    John Carlton says November 16, 2013

    Nope. I love testing, and urge clients to do lots of it. However, I’ve known a small army of successful biz owners who refuse to test (mostly because they’re too lazy), and rely on their ability to find a hot funnel anyway. Dangerous, but it’s the way many humans work.

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TJ says November 16, 2013

Hello John,

The #1 obstacle aspiring entrepreneurs tend to ‘encounter’ is themselves!!!

Their doubts from a lack of confidence and/or experience has them over-thinking many things and therefore complicating the simple!

The lack of a ‘swash-buckling’ attitude prevents people from taking meaningful steps with which they are unfamiliar! This of course results with little or nothing to show for their efforts!

I love that ‘old’ Nike slogan … Just Do It!

I know this seems like a long-winded answer but with all the words available for use, can you blame me:-)

Thanx John,

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Matt Makowski says November 16, 2013

So I am expanding on my first try. My favorite piece of motivational literature goes, “Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back…always ineffectiveness. ” Of course, it goes on but the crux of the matter is COMMITMENT….beyond any hurdles one (I) may encounter. And I am so close to where I need to be…(but then of course, the target moves on)….LOL. So I would say, undying commitment. By the way, John, I will cherish your book. 🙂

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Ron says November 16, 2013

Hi John, I am enjoying this quiz. Thank you!

Upon reading I realized that I need to change my thinking on this. There are so many subjects that I want to touch on. But upon re-ready the set-up and question I see that you may be out lining the problem itself.

Furthermore I have not seen any one mention this.

I think it’s the failure to plan. Properly put together a business plan. Review the past and re-plan based upon what we have learned.

Once launched business will take on a life of it’s own. The plan and updates to the plan provide a guide for the growth of your business.

When planing and reviewing you will more clearly see the whole picture, guide and adapt in the best way’s to further develop the business.(knowing when to bring in smarter people or hire consultants like yourself.)

Yes I think it is the failure to plan and review.

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Ben Okopnik says November 16, 2013

Hey, John – thanks for creating the awesome opportunity to see all these fine folks’ brains working on the problem. 🙂

I’d say the #1 problem is failing to set up a funnel – i.e., to have metrics for every step of their entire process. This, of course, requires being clear on what their entire process is…

My second guess would be lack of clarity about where they are in their journey to success, which would make them focus on the wrong set of goals.

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Geoff Dodd says November 16, 2013

John O’ invisible mentor ..

It is financial-Esteem or lack thereof.. #1

NOT asking enough for one’s services,
and not asking for the sale.

Geoff
currently at a volcano in NZ.

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    John Carlton says November 16, 2013

    Hey, be careful on the volcano, Geoff. Don’t wanna become a human sacrifice to the gods.

    Not the answer I’m after.

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