How to Avoid People Who Will Do Nothing But Waste Your Time

Reader Resource

Position yourself for growth in 2017—join us live at the Entrepreneur 360.
Flash Sale—save up to $200 on registration. Ends Thursday. Secure Your Seat »

The world is built of two different types of people: Those that talk and those that execute -- I call the latter doers.

It shouldn’t come as much of a shock that entrepreneurs tend to operate on the side of doers, as executing is a make-or-break aspect of building any business. Yet it always amazes me when we come across people that are so highly capable of a lot of talking, and not a lot of doing. As an entrepreneur, the hard part comes when you have to rely on other people to execute, regardless of whether they do a lot of talking.

This problem isn’t limited to employees. In fact, it isn’t limited to anyone. You’ll find yourself in this predicament with your suppliers, contractors, partners and even clients and customers -- all of which produce similar outcomes: A lot of wasted time.

Related: The 80/20 Rule of Time Management: Stop Wasting Your Time

The hardest part about this problem is that you need to be adept at quickly determining whether you’re working with a talker or a doer -- after all, you can waste a lot of both time and money, neither of which are likely in abundance.

So how do you train yourself to recognize and separate the talkers from the doers? Let’s look at two main points so you don’t waste your limited time.

Committed to a specific act, then didn’t follow through. This example also applies to a host of issues and happens every day, from scheduled meetings to follow-up information based on a conversation that took place. When someone says they’re going to do something, they need to do it.

Pay particular attention to this early on because it’s a sign as to how they operate. Take special note if they can’t do it as expected but let you know in advance. As long as they follow up and let you know, you’re likely in good shape.

Expectations should be laid out at the onset of potential relationships. Tell them: “This is what I require and if that doesn’t work for you, no problem, this isn’t a good fit.” 

Save yourself the time and frustration.

They won’t commit to anything. Similar to the first point, these types of people waste large amounts of resources, mostly due to what it can take to figure out that they’re really just not interested in committing and would prefer to just talk forever.

Related: My Biggest Mistake: Trusting the Wrong People

Want an example? I was recently working with a potential advisor to our fund that we’ve been in discussions with for months. Despite the fact that he’s said multiple times that the agreement he’s had for weeks is fine and he’ll execute and send it over, it was never received.

Weird right? Nope, just another example of someone that can’t or isn’t willing to commit -- which could be for a variety of reasons -- and would prefer to just talk about it forever. To avoid these types, learn from our mistakes and set a time-specific restriction on the activity you’re in need of -- a sort of “cut-off” date.

Create a situation that forces people to make a decision, regardless of what that decision is. In the circumstance that they can’t commit by that date, move on and save yourself from the long-term headache of dealing with their inability to make a decision.

If there is one overall point to be taken from this article, let it be this: If it’s difficult to work with someone in the beginning, it’s always going to be difficult. Seriously, it’s never going to get better. In fact, it’s highly likely to get worse.

It’s imperative that you surround yourself with people that fit the needs of your business by paying particular attention to your earliest interactions and look critically for the “red flags” that they’re going to be a talker and not a doer -- as these signs are just a prelude of what’s to come.

Related: Are You Catfishing Your Customers?