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Don't Make These 5 Mistakes in the New Year

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Yes, it’s that time of year and indeed this is a resolutions post. But January is a natural time for an entrepreneur to look back, evaluate what he or she did right and wrong in the year past and make decisions about how to move forward. 

Over the holiday season, I had some time to reflect about how things went last year and what I want to change going forward. Here are some of the mistakes I made this year that I’m going to do my best to not repeat.

Related: The Physical and Emotional Truths of Entrepreneurship

1. Taking business too personally.

As a business owner, it’s easy to sync your emotions to business metrics as I did last year. There is, however, a real mental and physical cost to tying yourself emotionally to something that you don’t absolutely control.

Also, as a business gets larger, the stakes get higher. Although the fluctuations in business tend to stabilize on a relative basis, on an absolute basis, the numbers seem to grow by an order of magnitude.

If you tie your emotions to these changes, it’s easy to turn a tough quarter at work into a personal disaster. I’ll never remove myself from personal investment in the success of my business, but this year I’m going to try to keep things in perspective.

2. Putting off management.

Toward the end of last year, I started planning for my company's reincorporation and raising of seed capital.

I became focused on big projects, so it was easier to let my staff try to take care of things on their own. They did a great job, but I left daily and weekly management conversations by the wayside. 

When entrepreneurs become involved in big things, they can lose track of day-to-day management. This year, I’m staying on top of management tasks and not letting anyone feel left out or unsure about work that needs to be done.

3. Complicating things.

Last year my company planned and executed a content strategy that took five months. It involved creating a taxonomy of relevant ideas, mapping pages to a complex hierarchy of themes and creating an encyclopaedic volume of content.

It would have been a fine project for IBM. But for That five months came at a massive opportunity cost.

It’s good to plan for future growth and have a map by which to steer your business.

But balance the level of project with the current state of your business. This year, I'll align the size of my organization's initiatives with its current capacities. I'll first evaluate projects by how fast the firm can successfully complete them.

4. Letting personal health slide.

Probably like many entrepreneurs, I can’t wait to arrive at work in the morning. This is one of the most productive, energetic periods of the day and it’s hard to take time off for anything else but important work.

The afternoon grows busy with meetings and pressing issues. The night is reserved for family and catching up on emails and other small business items. So there goes the day! Forget about exercise.

With competing priorities, entrepreneurs might find it hard to put exercise on the must-do list. During the busiest six months of last year, I almost purposefully let go of even trying to exercise.

The problem, however, is that when a business grows, always more work and even more responsibilities arise. You can’t wait for a quiet time to take care of your health because it won’t ever come. So this year, like tens of millions of others, I suppose, I’m resolving to prioritize my personal health.

Related: Great Entrepreneurs, Questionable Health -- 4 Steps to Founder Fitness

5. Not getting out there.

Running a growing business is a huge amount of work, even if you’ve delegated day-to-day operations to others.

You still have to develop partnerships, strategy, planning and forecasting. Although networking continues to be crucial as a business grows, an entrepreneur might view personal interactions as a luxury. There's the temptation to substitute a quick Skype call for an out-of-state conference or business lunches. It’s efficient in terms of time but not in terms of value. 

Last year I chose efficiency over value in terms of networking. This wasn't the right choice. 

This year I’m promising to get out there more often. It means “wasting” a lot of time on trains, planes and automobiles, paying for conference tickets that sometimes won’t be worth the admissions price and being away from the office and all that entails. But I’m counting on realizing a big long-term reward from taking a more personal approach to business.

Related: A New Model for Results-Driven Networking

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