10 Ways Entrepreneurs Shoot Themselves In The Foot
Entrepreneurs and their businesses have a tendency to ambush themselves when they aren’t looking. This affects how much revenue they can generate, how fast their business rises, and even if they survive after the first few years. If you feel there is a possibility you are getting in your way to success, review these elements to see if any of these items might apply.
1. Imagine investing time and money into a product or services, only to find that it isn’t selling. Or at least it doesn’t have the results that you expected. Now, I’m talking realistic here, and not some grandiose vision. It’s hard to give up something when you have invested your resources into something, more importantly, you have spout off to the world (okay, friends and family) that you were doing it.
Gluing yourself to an idea, product, or service that isn’t making any money or enough money to support the business isn’t smart. Ego and pride don’t make money. Getting hitched to any one idea, or even two, that isn’t profitable isn’t smart. Every product climbs and falls — even McDonalds drops a product when it doesn’t test strong. Ideas are the currency of entrepreneurs, make money with them or let them go.
2. Be proud of being an entrepreneur. Don’t mumble it, don’t call it by another name. Stand tall and proud. This includes the title independent professional — another name for entrepreneur. As if, being an entrepreneur isn’t professional.
At networking events, when asked if they are an entrepreneur, people respond in funny body language. Some shift their stance uncomfortably. Sometimes their hand goes over their mouth and they let out a barely auditable, yes. Or they correct it with some other title. For some reason the name entrepreneur seems to have caught a disease.
3. No bologna (or b.s.). Entrepreneurs can be naturally excited and optimistic about what they are doing. Don’t let the excitement sound like hype. Because of this people don’t trust you. Don’t just tell the pros, add the cons. Let people know, who is the best person for this service – not everyone, or what circumstances are best for the product. People aren’t stupid but if they have to figure the cons of the product or service, you will most likely lose the sale.
4. Being in denial of your cash position. Not balancing the checkbook, not knowing what your accounts receivables, payables, or what the break even cost is for a product or service, isn’t smart business. If you don’t know what it is, get a book on the topic or talk to an accountant. Denial creates fear, and fear creates denial. It’s a vicious circle that creates stress and ulcers. Short term projects turn around short term dollars. Long term projects never turn around short term dollars. Be realistic with all your resources.
5. Accepting weak any bodies. Whether its weak staff, weak clients, weak strategic alliances, or anyone else in your support realm. If you are attracting weak people, you are giving weak signals. Change your signals and you will change what you attract. To attract strong people, you need strong signals.
6. Confusing possibility with reality. One of the main characteristics of an entrepreneur, and this could be one of the reasons people may not like using the name, is their gift to see everything in possibilities, yet spend money in the world of reality. Money is always reality.
7. Selling or trying too hard to explain what you sell. If you find yourself pushing what you’re product or service does, it is time to change your “success formula.” Common causes are: (1) You are trying to sell to someone who isn’t your target, or (2) If you have the right target and you don’t know what you are selling. You can only handle this in two ways, know what the customers are buying, or know the benefits of what you are selling. Benefits in the terms customers need to hear and understand, not what you choose to say.
8. Lack of any or adequate support structures. If it takes a village to raise a child, what do you think it takes to raise a business. Surely, not a lone ranger. Work with others to help handle your many business and personal needs. Entrepreneurs need support, even if it’s only a feeling. Arrange to have a support structure for every part of your business. Keep in mind tip number five above for this as well.
9. Over or under delegating. It is so hard for entrepreneurs to begin to delegate. Yet once they do they seem to swing the pendulum completely to the opposite side and over delegate. Over delegating is “dumping” on people. Even paid people, don’t like being dumped on. Feeling in control is a need of most people, entrepreneurs aren’t any different. They look at it as a money or trust issue, when in actuality it’s usually a control issue. Delegate appropriately and with people that think you can trust. Let the trust build over time.
10. Stop giving up so easily. Successful entrepreneurs don’t see failure. They see learning lessons. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, change and adjust, and keep moving. Being an entrepreneur, during the early years of a business — that is under five years for most professionals, takes more work than being an employee. Even if you are a graduate with an MBA in business. Don’t include your learning curve time in with the rest of your time. Everyone has a learning curve of some kind.
Catherine is a veteran entrepreneur and communications
master coach. Additional articles, newsletters, workshops,
and other information is available at: