As entrepreneurs, our first instinct when things go wrong at our businesses is to look externally. That makes a lot of sense; after all, market forces, changes in social media, search engine algorithms, and local economic struggles all affect our businesses.
But if we find that our businesses are facing similar struggles again and again, it's time to look internally, and see what you might be doing to cause your businesses to struggle. Here are six mistakes you might be making which can stand between you and success.
1. You Struggle to Finish One Project Before You Start the Next
Having lots of ideas is great! Fresh ideas are necessary to push businesses to their greatest potential. But if you find that you love coming up with ideas, but are bored by the work that it takes to bring your ideas to fruition, you may not be as cut out for the world of entrepreneurship as you'd hoped.
Sure, the “Eureka!” moment is more fun than writing out a business plan, but if you can't learn to see the completed business plan as just another kind of amazing, you're going to struggle along the path of entrepreneurship.
2. You Feel the Need to Micromanage Everything
Do you consistently find yourself saying “Oh, just let me do it,” or demanding that your management team explain their work to you in incredible detail instead of trusting them to do their jobs, you are causing your business to struggle.
It's true that a successful CEO needs to be aware of what's going on in all branches of the company, but it's even truer that great CEOs have people in place to do their jobs. If you can't delegate, you're not going to make it as an entrepreneur.
3. You (Secretly or Publicly) Fear Failure, and Find Reasons Not to Move Forward
This may be the hardest obstacle that you may put in your own way. Starting your own business can be nerve-wracking. While we know all the stories of startup success, we also hear the stories of the person who had to crawl back to their previous employer, humbled and ready to return to their 9-to-5. We may come up with reasons to avoid starting and risk taking for fear of failing.
If you're going to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to take (advised, calculated) risks. You need to be willing to look at a path that no one else has taken, understand why no one has done it before, and decide that the time is ripe. You need to be able to innovate and take advantage of new innovations to improve your company.
4. You Constantly Compare Yourself to Successful Brands
A certain amount of comparison is healthy, and can help you find fresh, new ideas for how to move your business forward. Instead of copying another startup, you need to be creative with how you go about comparing yourself to other businesses. A brand new startup isn't going to be able to cast its marketing net as wide as a Fortune 500 company, for example, and while designers may flock to work at an established company with an eccentric CEO known for mocking and terrorizing his employees, that behavior is less likely to be tolerated from a brand-new public figure.
5. You Struggle to Admit Your Mistakes
While confidence is an important piece of succeeding in the world of business, everyone gets things wrong. If you're unable to admit that, at best you are going to frustrate your employees and your investors, and at worst, steer your company down the wrong path and find it difficult to keep the business afloat. To successfully run a business, you have to have the confidence to pursue your own path, and the confidence to know that sometimes you need to ask for directions.
6. You Ask Questions Without Paying Attention to the Answers
Everyone knows someone like this. They ask you a question, you formulate your answer, you get out three words, and they're already talking over you. Don't be this person, especially not in the world of business. Sure, sometimes you ask a question and realize that you've misphrased it, and the person answering you has gone very much off the path of what you need to know. Let them finish their thought and then redirect or clarify your question.
If you are asking questions, give people the respect of listening to their answers. Trust that there are things they know more about than you do, and that their input will be valuable and worthwhile.
The path to entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, but it is worthwhile. If nothing else, you'll learn a lot about yourself while you journey.