Learn how to avoid these common small business pitfalls so you can work smarter and truly enjoy being your own boss.
As a small business owner, you’re building a company from the ground up, and there are a lot of competing priorities and pressures. When you’re caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of running your business, it can be easy to fall into some bad habits along the way.
Below we’ll explore six of the biggest bad business habits and reveal how to break them.
1. The Habit: Wearing Too Many Hats
In a recent survey, 35% of small business owners said they wished they could take on fewer roles and responsibilities.
Numerous studies show that multitasking is harmful for a variety of reasons—it increases stress, decreases productivity, and you’re far more likely to make mistakes in your work—but many entrepreneurs find themselves trapped wearing too many hats.
How to Break It: Delegation is key, but having someone to delegate to is the first step. Building a strong team that you trust allows you to feel more comfortable placing responsibilities in their capable hands. So, take your time during the hiring process. Reach out to reliable contacts in your industry to widen your net, and consider not only work history, but also disposition and personality when interviewing.
2. The Habit: Getting Hung Up on Old Ideas
You probably dreamed about your company for a long time before you actually opened for business, and that means you have a strong vision for what you want it to be. While it’s important to have vision, trying to stick to a plan for achieving that vision—even when the plan has proven itself outdated or flawed—can cause big issues.
How to Break It: In order to change course, you have to be willing to let go of what was once a brilliant idea. As Dr. Alex Lickerman notes in Psychology Today, we tend to form biases towards our own ideas and opinions. Releasing those biases allows you the latitude to regroup and re-strategize as your company changes and grows.
3. The Habit: Over-Promising
Many small business owners have the urge to say yes to every request. However, agreeing to something that your company’s infrastructure or team can’t support ends up creating more ill will than just saying no in the first place.
How to Break It: Know your limits and stick to them. Take time to consider the request, but if it’s really something you can’t do, then offer a firm and simple “no.” Don’t go into details, as that invites the requestor to push the issue, and try to decline in-person or over the phone, since the tone of an email can sometimes be misconstrued.
4. The Habit: Not Taking Risks
The flip side of over-promising is not taking enough risks. Whether it’s fear of rejection, embarrassment, or financial failure, some small business owners lose their nerve just as their company is on the brink of a big breakthrough, thereby becoming their own worst enemies.
How to Break It: The first step to overcoming fear of failure is acknowledging that it exists; speak to trusted colleagues, friends, or family about your fears. The next step is focusing on things that are within your control. Turn your attention to tangibles, like redesigning your website or creating a new organizational tool for your merchandise.
5. The Habit: Micromanaging
Your business is your baby, and you want to do everything possible to make sure it succeeds. But micromanaging your employees is a guaranteed way to breed disengagement and resentment amongst your staff.
How to Break It: The urge to micromanage frequently springs from your own fear of failure or feelings of powerlessness. Facing those fears (see habit No. 4 above) will allow you to let go of those control-freak tendencies. Also strive to create a workplace culture of open communication; if your employees feel comfortable speaking to you when an issue arises, you’ll be at ease granting them more freedom.
6. The Habit: Not Taking Care of Yourself
With only 24 hours in the day, many small business owners aim to dedicate as many of those hours as possible to their business. Sleep, healthy eating, exercise and vacation time are de-prioritized or forsaken altogether. Not only is this dangerous for your physical and mental health, it can also take a toll on the health of your company.
How to Break It: The normative social influence, a force defined in social psychology, drives us to conform to a societal standard or preconceived notion of our role. Since the entrepreneurial role is seen as someone who works day and night, that’s what entrepreneurs feel pressured to do. Letting go of this pressure frees you up to achieve a healthy work-life balance, and to work with more focus and efficiency during the hours you do dedicate to your business.