In business, as in life, there are certain abilities that either come naturally or can be learned to help us reach our full potential. Unfortunately, many budding entrepreneurs fail to recognize the critical role that these abilities can play in helping them achieve their goals. With that in mind here’s a cautionary list of 7 sure ways to sabotage business success.
- Expect to get rich quick: Although the idea of starting a new business and running it in the black from day one is every entrepreneur’s dream, the reality is that, even under the best of circumstances, most startups can take from 1-3 years to be even moderately profitable, if they survive at all. The notion that your products or services are somehow so unique that your business will be an overnight success is pure fantasy. The reality is that success can only come through a sustained and dedicated effort to achieve both short and long-term goals that, on any given day, may seem unobtainable.
- Try to be all things to all people: A fundamental flaw of many new business owners when confronted with difficult challenges is that they begin second guessing the validity of their product or service. Next thing you know they’re looking for other ways to generate revenue, spreading themselves out so thin that they risk losing everything by failing to focus on honing and owning the core idea(s) upon which their business was founded.
- Let the numbers take care of themselves: While talent and hard work will take you far, at the end of the day you need to have a handle on profits and losses. If numbers are absolutely not your thing then you need to hire a good accountant. Thinking that by taking care of business the business will financially take care of itself is just plain foolish. Regardless of how well you think your business is doing, the numbers tell it like it is. Failing to keep track of the black and white reality of what’s actually coming in and going out can be disastrous.
- Work at your own pace: A natural tendency for many owners of virtual businesses—those not defined by brick and mortar and a 9 to 5 schedule— is to work hit and miss, depending on how motivated and inspired they may feel at any given time. While the adage “work smarter, not harder” gives all business owners something to shoot for, very few things can compensate for a strong work ethic. Regardless of how smart you might think you are, disciplining yourself to show up every day fully focused on the tasks at hand is the best way to create the kinds of opportunities for your smarter side to manifest itself in a way that will best benefit your business.
- Be self-reliant: One of the key qualities that set those who actually start their own businesses apart from those who only dream of doing so is a strong sense of who they are and what they can accomplish. While knowing one’s strengths is a valuable asset for any business owner, knowing and admitting one’s weaknesses is just as important—provided one is not too proud to ask for help. But before the asking there must be a willingness to build relationships with other business owners based on respect and trust. Although finding a mentor among direct competitors can be difficult, there are those in complimentary or parallel businesses who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise because it is mutually beneficial to do so. For example, a business owner specializing in web design would do well to ask a successful owner of an SEO or viral marketing firm for advice, as this would not only lead to the exchange of valuable information but client referrals as well. The innate desire for small business owners to rely solely on themselves can put them on the fast track to failure.
- Stay in your comfort zone: In an increasingly competitive environment even the best intentioned entrepreneurs can find it difficult to step out of their comfort zones. They spend their time searching for safer ways to reach their goals, avoiding the tough decisions most often accompanied by anxiety and stress. The truth of the matter is that running a business can be difficult, even on the best days. To be successful it takes a willingness to not only tolerate discomfort but actually embrace it without allowing it to overwhelm other aspects of life.
- Play it safe: Another aspect of staying in your comfort zone is the fear of taking risks. Although all risks should be calculated, the numbers can only go so far in predicting the positive or negative outcomes of any given action. Those unwilling to take action in the face of uncertainty are actually creating an even greater risk—the risk of never achieving the level of success that they are potentially capable of.