Business owners spend years carefully building a company, often taking on the bulk of the workload themselves initially. The goal is to continue to grow, adding team members as more clients sign on or customer bases increase. If that growth stagnates, an entrepreneur may look to external factors, blaming the economy or competition from much larger companies with access to more resources.
While outside forces can certainly inhibit a company’s growth, all too often the problems may be internal. In fact, the very person who works so hard to make the business a success may be the one holding it back. Here are a few ways business owners sabotage their own efforts.
One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is spending more time promoting himself than his business. While a company’s owner may be reflected in the overall tone and image of the business, the company and its products or services must always come first. When a business owner gets so caught up in the attention that comes from speaking at conferences and having his or her photo plastered on marketing materials, focus shifts away from the brand, which confuses the audience.
Not all entrepreneurs are extroverts. But networking is an important part of building a business. While some of the work can be done through social media, face-to-face connections are important. Organizations like Toastmasters can build confidence, and not only for those occasions when you’re required to pitch your product or speak to a group. The organization also helps improve one-on-one interactions and can even serve as a great networking tool, since local meetings are often filled with area professionals.
3. Failure to delegate
The decision to hire an employee or outsource work is usually not made quickly. Often, business owners wait until long after help is needed to ask for it, mostly in an effort to save money. As a result, business owners may find themselves maintaining their own website, deploying their own email marketing campaigns and fulfilling orders. While these day-to-day activities are essential to successful business operation, they also keep the owner in the office, rather than networking or bringing in new business. When hiring even one person will free a business owner to squeeze in more meetings or attend networking events, it might be time to start building a team.
4. Failure to learn
Mistakes are inevitable in the course of growing a business. The key is not in whether the mistakes are made, but in whether the business owner learns from those mistakes. Some of the biggest names in corporate America underwent at least one failure before achieving success. If a business owner creates a product that can’t land investment dollars or catch the interest of retailers, the lessons he or she learns from that failure could inform his or her next product design.
5. Going it alone
No business owner will be good at every aspect of his or her business. To achieve success, it’s important to be unafraid to ask for help from friends, advisors and consultants. If you lack confidence in the financial side of your business, ask an accountant or financially-savvy friend to look over your budget. The Small Business Administration has Small Business Development Centers located around the country to provide one-on-one counseling to business owners. These services are free and can make a big difference in the early stages of building your business.
Creating and growing a small business has its challenges, and there are plenty of resources to help. Sometimes business owners have to stop and audit their own behavior to see if it is preventing them from truly excelling. By realizing the ways you might be sabotaging your own efforts, you can gain an advantage by avoiding them.