There are some bad behaviors that are so commonplace and easy to fall into, we’ve come up with seemingly reasonable excuses for them.
I’m a critical thinker, you tell yourself -- when in reality, it’s that you’re resistant to change. I’m so important that I have to prioritize what emails to respond to, you think -- when in truth, you’ve become lazy. You justify not reading the news because you’re too busy -- an activity that doesn’t actually take much time at all.
Don’t delude yourself. These excuses have serious ramifications!
If you practice these insidious behaviors, I’d go so far as to say your chances of success are close to nil.
1. You’re unwilling to experiment.
If you’ve been running a successful business for some time, you may not realize that you’ve become resistant to change. Why should I do anything different, you may subconsciously be thinking, if this is working so well? That is a dangerous perspective to let take hold, because the only way to move your business forward is to be dynamic.
When an employee approaches you to tell you about his or her idea for a new project, do you automatically shoot them down? Do you start pointing out the reasons why the new project will be costly or challenging before even considering how to make it work? If you routinely do this, soon enough, your employees won’t come to you with their ideas at all. You may not even realize you’re doing this.
Change is scary, but there are ways to be smart about it. Try one new thing at a time. Be diligent about determining whether it is working out. If you’re unwilling to experiment, you have a problem. You’re holding on too tightly.
2. You communicate sporadically at best.
When I send emails to colleagues and don’t receive a prompt response -- or even worse, any response at all -- I’m left scratching my head in befuddlement.
Does this person care about my business? I wonder. Is he or she too busy for me? Am I not a priority?
Let’s be real. These days, most people go so far as to take their phones into the bathroom with them. They can’t help but check their texts at a stop light. Make no mistake: I’m not advocating this kind of behavior! But in my view, there’s simply no excuse for not hitting “reply” as soon as possible. Don’t leave the people you work with hanging. Don’t let them wonder how much you care.
There’s the reality that some opportunities have expiration dates. Think about it. How much faster could you move your business forward if you replied to every email you received as soon as possible? The benefits of being present reveal themselves to me almost every week -- particularly when it comes to getting press coverage.
The sooner you drill into yourself the practice of replying promptly, the better off your business will be.
3. You don’t make an effort stay current.
It’s pretty much a given that entrepreneurs are busy. We have businesses to run, after all! But that isn’t a valid excuse for failing to stay current.
I look at keeping my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the world as part of my job. For one, I like to stay on top of trends, because they sometimes influence what direction to take my business in. Yes, you should do your due diligence and regularly read your industry’s trade publications and leading bloggers. But beyond that, I think there’s a lot of value to be had in keeping abreast of the world. Find a way to hold on to your humanity amidst the craziness.
After all, networking with other people is intrinsic to your success. How are you going to relate to other people if you’re stuck in your own bubble? If you focus solely on your own business, you will have trouble maintaining a conversation. It’s that simple.