Small business owners often share personality traits, like confidence and determination, and we operate under similar circumstances, like limited time and high stress. These commonalities lead us to also share a set of behavioural defects that hold us back and limit our success.
What’s more, over time these behavioural defects become habits that we are often blind to. Listed below are the seven most common flaws of the small business owner. See if you recognize any of these weaknesses in yourself.
We are so busy we tend to stick with existing solutions and ways of doing things out of habit and simply because we don’t have enough time to stop, reflect, research, and implement better ways of doing things.
Solution: Schedule a time to rethink existing processes. Keep a journal of problems as they occur so you can reflect on them later.
We come to rely on “elbow grease” and “burning the midnight oil” as the de facto approach to moving things forward. Unfortunately, the brute force approach to progress can only go on for so long before we become burned out. This leads to periods of extremely high activity followed by periods of low motivation and avoidance.
Solution: Take time off and relax before you want to. By the time you want a break from work, the damage has been done and you’ve already lost motivation.
Failure to Delegate
Closely tied to our Superman Complex, we are prone to do things we shouldn’t be doing because we feel its too much of a hassle to delegate or we think we can do a better job than anyone else. The business owner’s time is a limited resource that should be carefully spent but it is often frittered away on low level tasks that anyone else could do just as well.
Solution: Force yourself to delegate. Maintain awareness of what you are working on.
Working “in the business” Rather Than “on it”
We tend to spend our time working for customers or doing maintenance work while the big picture and long term plans are neglected. Our time is spent reacting rather than being proactive.
Solution: Schedule time for progress and treat it as sacred. Forward progress only happens when you make it an unshakeable priority.
We have high standards for what we will attach our name to or associate our company with. We take pride in our work and have a hard time saying, “Good enough.” As a result, we slow our progress as we continually edit details that few others would notice.
Solution: Become obsessed with the idea of making things happen rather than making things perfect. It’s not necessary to lower your standards but putting your focus on the act of delivering will keep you moving rather than spinning your wheels on details.
Our work is dictated by inspiration. We are inspired by our latest idea and our time and energy is directed there leaving countless worthwhile projects half-finished on the backburner.
Solution: Keep a list of projects that you continually prioritize. Make a rule that you will only work on the top one or two projects at a time.
Caused by our confidence and the necessity to function as the jack-of-all-trades in the early days of our business, the Superman Complex is typified by the belief that you can do anything. While not necessarily a bad thing, it often leads to us taking on projects we shouldn’t.
Solution: Know your weaknesses, your limits, and remain humble. Make a list of things to “stop doing” to remind you when to say “no.”
Your small business needs you to be the best possible small business owner. As with many things in life, awareness is half the battle. After that, it’s just a matter of persistently taking small steps to overcome your weaknesses.