Small-business owners, we have some news for you: You’re not being sabotaged by bad employees, clients, or competitors. The person getting in the way of your success is you.
While you’re focused on keeping your finances in order, your competition at bay, and your customers happy, you’re undermining your own operation. What’s worse, you probably don’t even realize it.
Here are three surprising things you’re doing to sabotage your own business — and how to stop doing them.
1. You’re too busy putting out fires. It’s easy to be driven by what’s going on around you. But allowing a crisis or a problem to dictate your actions at any given moment leads to poor decision-making, says Alan Melton, founder of Small Business Coach Associates.
You may feel like a hero tackling every problem as it comes your way, but doing so comes at a significant cost: You’ll end up burned out and too overwhelmed to devote time to your family, your health, your customers, and, ultimately, your business.
Solution: Plan ahead. Small-business consultant Kim Bowsher says the difference between a good decision and a bad one is preparation. She advises entrepreneurs to evaluate their company’s goals, make a plan for how they will achieve them, and set aside time for daily activities like email and research. When something urgent comes up, ask whether doing it right now will achieve your year-end goals. If not, it shouldn’t be a priority.
2. You’re full of ideas. This doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but having too many ideas can weigh you down. According to Karyn Greenstreet, president of Passion for Business, “Business owners can become prisoners of their own thinking patterns. There are so many creative ideas and to-do lists running around in their brains that they no longer can think clearly about their business, their customers, or the product/service they offer. Business stagnates, and the downward spiral begins.”
Solution: Get out of your head. Greenstreet advises entrepreneurs to enlist support from colleagues, a business coach, or a mastermind group. “Work with people outside your business and industry to brainstorm solutions, gain clarity, find focus, and plan powerful strategies.”
3. You’re trying to do the job of many people. Maybe you think that the only way things will get done right is if you do them. However, if you spread yourself too thin, you’ll set yourself up for failure. Micromanaging may help you feel in control, but you simply encourage your employees to depend on you. Over time, you’ll unintentionally sabotage everyone’s success.
Solution: Hire help. If you spend too much energy on every part of your business, it’ll inevitably drain you. Melton suggests that entrepreneurs “do what [they] love and delegate the rest.” Training employees and giving them the authority to make decisions will free up your time for tasks you not only excel at, but also enjoy doing.