Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

6 Patterns That Stop You From Achieving Long-Term Success Avoid these easy-to-make mistakes and boost your business's bottom line.

By Ryan McGrath Edited by Amanda Breen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's no secret that many businesses fail in the first few years of inception. As an entrepreneur, it's easy to encounter pitfalls and experience growing pains despite being focused, strategic and well-intentioned in your approach.

When I joined Asset Living, the property-management firm I currently run, I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with my father for over a decade. We experienced our fair share of ups and downs as we worked to grow the business 10 times over the course of 11 years.

My role at the company evolved many times as we grew. I had to adapt from finance and sales to operations and senior leadership. It's similar to going from rookie to all-star to team captain to coach and, ultimately, owner. Along the way, I made mistakes, which forced me to learn how to effectively set myself (and my business) up for long-term success. Here are six habits that may be standing between you and real success.

1. Hiring people that are similar to you

Sometimes the most talented candidate may not be the right fit for a job. In other words, a team full of Tom Bradys would lose every game. In order to forge success, you need to prioritize hiring people that are smarter, better and different than you.

If you're sitting in a meeting and everyone thinks, acts and behaves the same way, the business will likely suffer. Diversity of thought, experience and background is what sets top-performing teams apart from the pack. Investing in diverse people and talent should be at the top of your priority list as a young entrepreneur. The teams you build will ultimately determine the trajectory of your company.

Related: 5 Ways to Be a Strong Leader

2. Resisting change

I think we can all agree that change is typically a hard pill to swallow. Whether you're faced with it personally or professionally, change is ubiquitous. The tired adage "Change is the only constant" holds true in business. Change can be particularly difficult when you're the leader of a company and the business has been running smoothly for quite some time.

To take your business to the next level and experience real long-term growth, you not only have to accept change, but you also need to embrace it. How can you use new technologies to expand into new markets? Are there any roles or positions at your company that are no longer needed? How much are you investing in research and development versus existing lines of business? As an entrepreneur, these are the questions you need to be asking yourself.

3. Avoiding risk

Whether it be in grade school or college, as we're growing up, we're generally taught to avoid risk. And, as entrepreneurs, it's our responsibility to assure investors, clients and staff that there's little risk involved should they choose to partner with us. While it's important to mitigate risk in most scenarios, it shouldn't necessarily be avoided at all costs. Take calculated risk. Nothing great ever occurred without sizable, associated risk. Put simply, entrepreneurs take risks; it's in our nature. Be honest with yourself about the worst thing that can happen, accept it, then jump.

4. Forgetting to invest in yourself

Often times, owners and CEOs inadvertently neglect themselves while attempting to pave success for their company. We stop focusing on how our own skills are developing. It's easy to overlook this when you're a young entrepreneur, or even a seasoned leader. This can be particularly challenging if you subscribe to servant leadership, a leadership philosophy whereby the leader exists to serve the people rather than the people working to serve the leader.

Block off time each month to reflect on your own professional development. Remain open to feedback from your peers and direct reports. I personally undergo an executive review (at least once a year) to ensure I remain aware of both my strengths and potential areas of growth. Self-improvement doesn't simply stop because you're a CEO or founder.

Related: 3 Business Lessons Climbing Kilimanjaro Reinforced

5. Mediocre goal-setting

Conventional wisdom tells us to set "reasonable" goals. But what does that really mean? Sure, we should remain realistic, but far too often I see entrepreneurs underselling themselves and their businesses. I believe that if you set goals high enough, even "failures" can be considered business wins.

For instance, let's say you set a goal of growing your business by 200% in a given year, essentially tripling in size. However, at the end of that year, you ultimately fall short of this goal, and instead grow by 100% (doubling in size). Technically, you failed. But broadly speaking, growing twofold is a remarkable feat, and one that will be celebrated by employees, clients and investors.

Don't fear failure; it can actually help your business. Remain realistic, but set your goals high and consistently push the boundaries. Underselling yourself will only leave your teams unmotivated and harm your company's productivity levels.

6. Believing you have to know it all

As a young entrepreneur, it's easy to feel like you always need to have an answer. The reality is you simply won't sometimes. Great leaders surround themselves with diverse talent to help problem solve and tackle unique business needs as they arise. You can't be the expert in all things, at all times.

As an entrepreneur, the most important question you can ask your team is, "What's your recommendation?" And then follow up with, "How can I help?" Ask your team members for their thoughts on what the best solution is instead of rigidly delegating. This leadership technique not only enables you to come up with creative problem-solving ideas, but also helps establish a strong sense of collaboration within your organization.

Related: 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Starting My Career

Ryan McGrath

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO + President of Asset Living

Ryan McGrath is a leading private-equity-backed CEO, entrepreneur and real estate investor. As president and CEO of Asset Living, the second-largest apartment manager in the U.S., he leads a team of over 8,500 employees with approximately $55 billion in AUM.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

'Creators Left So Much Money on the Table': Kickstarter's CEO Reveals the Story Behind the Company's Biggest Changes in 15 Years

In an interview with Entrepreneur, Kickstarter CEO Everette Taylor explains the decision-making behind the changes, how he approaches leading Kickstarter, and his advice for future CEOs.

Business Ideas

87 Service Business Ideas to Start Today

Get started in this growing industry, with options that range from IT consulting to childcare.

Business Models

How to Become an AI-Centric Business (and Why It's Crucial for Long-Term Success)

Learn the essential steps to integrate AI at the core of your operations and stay competitive in an ever-evolving landscape.


5 Steps to Preparing an Engaging Industry Presentation

You can make a great impression and generate interest with an exciting, informative presentation. Find out my five secrets to creating an industry presentation guaranteed to wow.