5 Limiting Beliefs With the Power to Kill Your Business in the Next 12 Months
An entrepreneur's mindset can bring about wild success, but it can tear down a business, as well.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Only 20 percent of businesses survive past their first year of operation. Of course, there are many reasons that first-year businesses fail -- from having the wrong people on their team to running out of capital or finding out that the market isn't interested in their product or service.
However, whatever the external reason for failure, all of those problems can be boiled down to a more fundamental issue, one that lies in the mindset of the company's leadership. Because even if you're in your second, fifth or twentieth year of business, giants like Blockbuster and Borders prove that there's never a guarantee of continued success. And, unfortunately, nothing topples a giant as fast as limiting beliefs.
The belief, for instance, that your product must be perfect before launch translates to slow movement rather than rapid iteration. Similarly, the belief that you must maintain control of everything in your business quickly translates to an overworked boss and an underutilized (and frustrated) team. But, those are just a few examples. More specifically, here are five limiting beliefs that might be killing your business right now:
1. "The product or service must be perfect before launch."
When you're launching a new product or service, you want to impress your target market. You want them to stand in awe of what you created, flocking to it with their wallets open. And that's good. Naturally, you need to do the best with what you have.
But, having said that, you also should launch your product or service before it's perfect. In fact, you can't really know what a perfect product or service looks like until you get it in front of your target audience and hear what they have to say. Which is exactly why the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, famously said, "If you're not embarrassed by your first product release, you released it too late."
As you probably know, LinkedIn had a bumpy start. It didn't attract much positive attention at first. Still, though, that rough start didn't stop Microsoft from eventually buying LinkedIn for a whopping $26.2 billion. Clearly, then, your product or service doesn't need to be perfect at launch. You simply need to be willing to change and develop it based on market feedback.
In the words of Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup, "As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: Remove any feature, process or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek."
2. "I'm selling a product or service, not a result."
When you've developed an amazing product or service, it's easy to mistakenly think that it will sell itself. Almost always, it won't. The reality is that people don't buy products or services; they buy the solution, result or dream that your product or service has to offer.
As Trevor Mauch, CEO of Carrot, puts it: "People don't buy a product. They don't buy a car or a website or a new home. They buy a status, a dream of financial independence or a vision of what they want their life to be like in the future."
That is what you want to try and sell with your marketing. He continues, "One of the big mistakes I made in the past and I see lots of companies make is they focus too much of their marketing on the product -- on the features, the things that it does. But, they don't focus on what their clients life will be like after using the product."
3. "I must know about everything that goes on in my business."
Especially for new business owners, the desire to double-check everything on employees' desks is a very real temptation. And, in some instances, it's even appropriate. If someone isn't producing like you want them to or a project is particularly vital for the growth of the company, then paying special attention might be merited.
But, if you're going to grow a large business, then you won't be able to babysit every single project that the business tackles. Which illustrates exactly why it's so important to hire people whom you can trust. As "Leadership Therapist" Scott Carbonara recommends, "A great boss hires talented people and then gets out of their way."
Even General George Patton once said, "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." If you hire people you can trust, then you'll be able to focus your energy on running and growing a business -- rather than the minutiae of everyday tasks. According to Psychology Today, on the other hand, micromanaging employees hurts "morale motivation, and creativity."
4. "I'm not confident enough to step out of my comfort zone."
If you're going to run a business, then you need to get used to going outside of your normal comfort zone. Lots of different entrepreneurial demands will require you speak in front of others, sell your product or service and talk about yourself, inspire people to follow you and be the one to jump first, even when you're unsure of the result.
Truthfully, people who've run the most successful business empires never hesitate to move, shift or market because of a personal insecurity. In fact, committing those comfort-zone crimes can kill your business, as well as your personal reputation.
If you want to grow the business of your dreams, then you have to step outside of your comfort zone and accept that you're capable of far more than you ever thought.
5. "My job is only to tell people what to do."
You're the boss. So yes, you'll spend a lot of time telling people what to do. And the more that you grow your business, the more time you'll spend shouting orders. However, that doesn't mean you need to become a heartless demand-giving robot. In fact, you shouldn't.
If you do, then there's a good chance that your workers will start doing the bare minimum since they don't feel cared for. Instead, you want employees to go above and beyond on projects. You want them to think up new ideas and you want them to feel free to implement new solutions. After all, the more that your team thinks for themselves, the more time you can spend on other business-growing tasks.
How, though, do you walk the line between telling people what to do and empowering people to think for themselves? According to Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor, the answer is to care personally and be radically honest -- at the same time. In her words, "Care personally; don't put people in boxes and leave them there."
Yes, your job is to tell people what to do. But, it's also to inspire, motivate and even build meaningful relationships with those same people. That way, when you do tell them what to do, they'll listen.
Every business failure starts with a leader's limiting beliefs.
If you don't want to be among the vast majority of businesses that fail within the first 10 years of operation, then you must have an exceptional mindset. The businesses that fail are, naturally, the ones without the flexibility, grit or team members needed to build a sustainable corporation. They're the ones that believe one or several of the above five statements.
Because in the end, there are a lot of external reasons that businesses fail, but only a few detrimental limiting beliefs that cause those mistakes. If you want to build the business of your dreams, then you need to change the way you think -- and these five mindset shifts are a great place to start.