How To Turn A Struggling Project Into A Successful One

The four reasons projects fail and how to overcome them.

It doesn’t take long for excitement about a project to turn to panic when it’s not received as you hoped.

But a rocky start can be overcome if you can uncover the root of the problem.

To do so, consider the following four reasons projects fail and adjust accordingly.

1. It’s not clear why it was made.

Successful projects solve problems, create opportunities, provide value, or represent something meaningful to their intended audience.

If your creation doesn’t do any of those things — or only does them for YOU and not for your audience — then it will fail.

You invested your time, money, effort, and heart into this project and need to be honest with yourself about why. If your reason is solely to provide value to yourself, the project won’t catch on.

It needs to also deliver value to an audience and be clear to them why you made it in the first place.

(That’s one of the reasons I call my newsletter For The Interested — to reinforce the idea it exists primarily for my readers, not for me.)

2. It’s not clear who it’s for.

Every project is designed to provide value to a specific audience.

If you’re not clear who that audience is, or haven’t clearly expressed that to them, your project won’t get traction…no matter how great it may be.

You need to be able to clearly explain who your intended audience is, AND know where to find them so they can be exposed to your work, AND ensure they understand why it’s for them.

If any of the pieces of that equation are missing, the project will fail.

3. It’s not clear how it works.

It’s easy to overestimate people’s understanding of our own projects.

If an audience doesn’t fully understand how to access, use, and benefit from your project, then it will fail— no matter how interested they may initially be in it.

User experience matters. Customer support matters. Making things you assume are “obvious” actually obvious matters.

Your project’s success doesn’t just ride on your ability to sell it — it’s also tied to your ability to ensure people are able to unlock and capitalize on the value in it.

4. It’s not clear why it’s unique.

Sometimes even after you’ve made it clear who your project is for, why it was made, and how it works, it still doesn’t catch on.

When that happens it’s likely because the project isn’t unique enough.

You can build a hammer for carpenters, have them understand why you made it and how to use it, but at the end of the day it’s still one of a thousand hammers they can choose that all do those same basic things.

You need to give people a unique reason to choose YOUR project.

Honing in on what’s truly unique about your project and the reason others should choose it is the final key to turning a project from a failure into a success.

No matter what you create, there are ways to make it unique.

Don’t simply aim to be “better” than the competition because better is a judgment call. Instead, be DIFFERENT than the competition.

Build a hammer designed specifically to fit women’s hands, or one which is custom designed based on a user’s own palm dimensions, or one refurbished from a vintage hammer.

The more unique your project, the better your chance at success.

Ready for the next step in turning around your project?

Once you figure out why your project is struggling and correct it, the next step in turning your failure into a success is to create more demand for it.

Here are some ways to do that: