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How To Use Hofstadter's Law To Avoid Online Business Failure. | Tara Fitness

How To Use Hofstadter’s Law To Avoid Online Business Failure.

by Tara Fitness
online business failure

If you want to plant a bomb underneath your business, push the red button and blow it to smithereens… take a leaf outta the book of these major Australian companies.

If not, keep reading and I’ll teach you how to avoid their mistakes and subsequent online business failure.

My fiance and I just bought and moved into a new house, yay! Unfortunately, an unavoidable part of moving into a new place is interacting with major organisations – the kind I like to avoid at all costs if possible (it’s a self-preservation thing). 

When I say ‘major organisations’, I mean the names that’d jump into your mind when I say:

→ banks (someone has to fund the mortgage)… and 

→ communication companies (someone has to set up the internet so I can keep talking to you).

I’ve been dealing with both of these lately and they’ve been failing dismally.

The Finance Business Failure

Initially, we went to our regular bank – a company I’ve been banking with for half my life – and applied for a home loan. We were told it would take two business days to determine if we would be given pre-approval (for those of you not in the know, pre-approval means you know how much you can spend and can start looking at houses to buy). Sounds all good so far, right?

Back in mid-August, our application was sent for pre-approval…

5 days later, I emailed the bank to ask for an update…

On 31st August, (10 days after being told it would take a mere 2 days make a decision), I finally received a response from the banker stating “I’ll email you when there’s an outcome”. I’m confident I only received this email because I called the bank, and after being on hold for 40 minutes, I was relatively blunt with the person I managed to speak with.

Perhaps you’re still thinking it’s acceptable. I mean, they’re busy after all. And yeah, I would have given them that leeway too. But here’s the kicker…

Last week, yes I’m talking over 8 weeks since applying for pre-approval, we still had not received a response. To make matters worse, I logged into my internet banking last week to find our application was no longer there. I called the bank and was informed that the application has been withdrawn…


Thankfully, we got fed up months ago and went to a broker who helped us get a loan with another lender. Needless to say, we will be switching all of our accounts to the new bank in the near future.

Now, I’m not just writing this post to whinge. There’s a HUGE lesson in this, and I’ll explain it after I tell you all about the next failure.

The Internet Business Failure

We ordered an Internet connection over two weeks ago. We received our new modem quite quickly so I excitedly unpacked it and set it up. The paperwork that came with the modem stated it was a ‘plug and play’ device, so I assumed I’d hook it up and we’d be cooking with gas. I assumed wrong.

Three days later, with the internet still not working, I contacted the company. I was told that, despite our online account stating the setup was complete, that was only for the phone and the internet would take a few more days.

So, I waited a few days, then contacted them again. I went through all of the normal tech steps (turn it off then on again, reset the modem – a.k.a. all the shit I’d already tried before talking to tech support) with no luck. So they arranged a technician to come out.

On the day the technician was supposed to arrive, I received a message stating testing was complete and the tech will not need to access our property. The following day, I received a call advising I should reset the modem and wait 48 hours, and by then it will be working.

Are you tired yet? I sure am.

Anywho, I reached out to tech support again yesterday because it’s now been a week since the tech did whatever they did, wherever they did it. I was informed that they were still working on it – so why had I been told it should be right a week ago?

Oh… and as I’ve been reciting this story to you I received a text stating I no longer need to be at home for today’s tech visit…


Are you sensing a pattern here?

The mistake that’ll drive you head-on into online business failure.

There’s two major flaws in the communication of these two organisations. The flaws make me never want to deal with either company again. (Hint: If you’re making these mistakes, you might be driving your customers away too).

  1. Their complete lack of communication skills – either they don’t tell me anything or what they do tell me is wrong.
  2. Their timeframes that seem to be plucked out of thin air and never adhered to.

Now, let’s be honest. These mistakes mean nothing to those companies. I’m just a faceless name in a whole bucket of names that’ll keep paying them for their services regardless of their incompetencies. That’s the beauty of being a ma-hoo-sive company.

You, on the other hand…

You’re a solitary fighting fish in a glass bubble which means you can’t make the same fuck-ups as the sharks that have entire schools of fish following ‘em around the ocean.

When staff make these mistakes in big business, the pork chops at the top of the food chain still get their big, fat bonus bacon when the end of the month rolls around. If you make these mistakes and it results in the loss of a single client, it might leave you with no choice but to cross the bacon off your grocery list.

How to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes.

Make sure you follow these two simple tips, and you’ll never burn your business with the mistakes of the big boys (a.k.a. avoid online business failure).

Step 1: Communicate effectively.

If something is going well (e.g. you reach a milestone in the project), contact your client.

When something is wrong (e.g. you’re sick and can’t get to their task as planned), contact your client.

If you haven’t spoken in a few days, contact your client.

When you do so, be honest about what’s happening. It’s better to be honest than it is to make promises you can’t keep.

Step 2: Always overestimate your timeframes.

Hofstadter’s Law states:

Every task will always take longer than you estimate. Even when you take into account that it will take longer than you estimate.

There will be times where you underestimate the timeframe it will take to complete a client project. In this instance, you will have to discuss the delay with the client (see step 1).

In order to reduce these conversations, always add a buffer when estimating timeframes. A great general rule is to think about how long it will take you, then double it. As Hofstadter’s law explains, sometimes even this will not be enough. But it should keep you out of trouble most of the time.

Avoiding online business failure.

If the two examples I shared at the beginning of this post stirred you up as if you’re a bull who spotted a waving red flag, consider how your clients would feel if you did the same to them?

When banks and telecommunication providers lose a client, it’s barely a blip on the radar. When we – small business owners and freelancers – lose a client, it can literally break our businesses.

If you’re working your guts out running a small business, you owe it to yourself to elevate ‘communication’ and ‘honesty’ to the top of your core values lists. It’s the only way you’ll succeed.

Don’t make this mistake either…

There’s a truck-tonne of mistakes you’ll make as a small business owner. It’s part and parcel of owning a biz. But one of the most significant mistakes I’ve seen is solopreneurs pushing themselves to the brink of burnout as they desperately seek success. I should know. I tried it myself all I earned was more exhaustion than a mountaineer who’s just climbed Everest and more debt than a gambler who just bet twice his life savings on a lame horse.

If you’re pushing yourself to the max to make your business work, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can work less and earn more with the right strategy. Enter your details in the box below and I’ll send you the exact strategy I used to cut my work hours from 12+ down to 3-4 while dragging myself out of debt and into the $$$.

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