The Most Common Entrepreneur Bad Habits and How to Stop Them
As a small business owner, you’re likely aware of your shortcomings – and hopefully, you’re able to hire talented people who can fill in your gaps. Or, you can outsource the work you’re not able to do well. But not all entrepreneurs are that self aware, and some of them maintain bad habits that hold them back from success.
Are you guilty of holding onto some bad habits? Maybe you engage in some less-than-ideal entrepreneurial strategies without even realizing it. In this article, we share some of the most common entrepreneur bad habits that many business leaders share, so you can assess yourself and perhaps find a new, better way.
Entrepreneur Bad Habit #1: Not Thinking Ahead
We get it: when you’re a busy entrepreneur, you sometimes don’t have the time to be proactive and think one step ahead.
You may even have times when you feel like you’re treading water to keep your head above the surface. However, being proactive is much more effective than being reactive. Reactive is patching a hole in the roof while it’s raining, while being proactive is checking and maintaining your roof even during the dry months.
To be more proactive, would you have to hire help? Would you have to work on your time management? Would you have to organize logistics better so you know when inventory is going to run out long before it does?
Being reactive is constantly being on the backfoot — you become a slave to your own problems. Anticipate problems before they arise: gather data on your industry, read up on the common risks and problems, likely inventory or labor shortages, or any other issues that grind your business to a halt.
A great way to start breaking this entrepreneur bad habit is to start your day by listing three likely problems your business will face, one within a week, one within a month, and one within a year. Then, jot down a few basic ideas on how to get in front of these issues before they happen.
Entrepreneur Bad Habit #2: Avoiding Risks
Of course, taking too many risks can be dangerous and sabotage your chances for success. However, being too risk-averse can hold you back from taking your business to the next level.
If people have often told you that you “play it too safe,” you may want to consider doing something outside of the box. If you tend to think too much before you make a decision, then you can seek the advice of a trusted mentor, colleague, or business coach. Look at what your most successful competitors or role models are doing — did they go with a tried-and-true method, or did they see a way to fulfill a consumer need (or to create a consumer need) that no one had ever seen before?
Start with small risks. Don’t revamp your whole enterprise, but consider adding a small new feature, fielding a surprising menu addition, or creating a small perk a customer might not expect.
Entrepreneur Bad Habit #3: Being a Workaholic
Many entrepreneurs struggle with finding a work-life balance since for many of them, work is life. However, being a workaholic isn’t helping you get more done; it’s simply leading you down a path toward burnout.
One day you may wake up and not want to do anything at all! Instead, block out time in your week for self-care, including exercise, meditation, creativity, quiet time, or anything else that nurtures you and helps you to take your mind off work. There are even apps like Calm that actually send you reminders when it’s time to meditate, nudging you into a more tranquil state of mind.
As Adam Neumann (co-founder of WeWork) says, “Success is not just making money. Success is happiness, success is fulfillment, it’s the ability to give.”
Entrepreneur Bad Habit #4: Doing Too Many Things at Once
Do you think you’re a good multitasker? I hate to break it to you, but according to science, no one is a good multitasker. They just don’t exist.
According to many different studies, humans are actually terrible at multitasking, and giving our attention to too many things at once can actually decrease productivity. Gal Zauberman, professor at the Yale School of Management, has this to say about multitasking: “We know from psychology literature that multitasking is bad for you.” He went on to say “Doing multiple distinct tasks at one time is not a good thing, and will not lead to greater performance and satisfaction.”
Instead, put down the phone and focus on one task. Then move on to the next task. If you struggle with this, then arrange your schedule in such a way that encourages you to focus on only one thing at a time.
You’ll feel much more centered and productive!
Entrepreneur Bad Habit #5: Not Asking for Help
Being an entrepreneur means being a leader, but it also often means forging ahead on your own. Which is why so many entrepreneurs also have a tendency to try to shoulder all of the burdens that come their way. It’s also a bad habit, not only because it can leave you overloaded with work; it also models the same behavior for those working under you.
Outsource your video call transcriptions to better document your business meetings. If you’re in the software game, outsource your pull requests to save you time double-checking everything. Hiring a virtual sales team might fill some of the gaps in your sales strategy, especially if you’re doing most of the sales yourself.
It’s not all paid help we recommend, either. Delegate, delegate, delegate. In theory, you hired your employees or joined up with your partners because you trust and/or value their skills. Offload some of the responsibilities — you don’t have to micromanage every detail. You have help: use it.
Are you guilty of engaging in any one of these entrepreneur bad habits? Don’t beat yourself up! Simply take the necessary steps to change for the better using some, or all, of the techniques illustrated above!