6 Toxic People Who Are Hurting Your Success

You know who they are -- the chronic complainer, the "gimme me" more type. But did you know that one of these toxic people may be you?

learn more about Shannon Kaiser

By Shannon Kaiser


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you are growing your own business, the people around you matter most. Whom you bring on your team is just as important as your client base. As an entrepreneur, you want to ensure that you are set up for long-term success. Sometimes that means cutting out dead weight. Here are six types of toxic people who hurt your success.

Related: 3 Lessons for Handling Challenging Clients

1. The "gimme more" person

They call you for free advice, ask for refunds on your products or services -- even though they didn't use them -- or just want to meet for coffee to pick your brain. When you are growing your own business, people will always be behind you looking at what you are doing and wanting to know the "how."

When I started my own business as a life coach and author, I would meet people for coffee all the time. Most of them just wanted to pick my brain or find out how I'd gotten where I was. But I wasn't following anyone's idea of a solid networking strategy.

Not only was I spending precious moments away from my business, I was giving away advice I had worked hard to build and sell. What I did was put together a mentorship program for clients who were serious about growing their own businesses and invited them to invest through the program. This quickly weeded out the people interested only in freebies.

So, take note: Spending your time answering questions or handing out advice to the freebies crowd is keeping you from growing your business.

2. Your own obsessive inner critic

We all have one: the obsessive inner voice that says you aren't good enough. That this won't work. That no one will sign up or invest in your program. This is the voice in your head of your second-grade teacher who said you weren't smart enough.

That inner critic will do everything it can to sabotage your success. Your only mission: Don't listen. All those people out there who have the success you aspire to achieve has that same inner voice, but they busted through the fear and did it anyway. Don't let your inner crazy stop you from your dreams.

3. The cyber bully

If you write guest posts or articles or have an online business, including social media pages, you will inevitably encounter negative reviews, comments or cyber sabotage. These people go out of their way to write negative things about you, your company or your product. The biggest threat with online negative comments or cyber bullies attacking your company or product is you. Yes, you. Not them. The attention you give them will often fuel their fire and keep the negative cycle burning.

I once wrote an article for a large Australian newspaper on "15 Things Happy People Do Differently." Although the article was well received, many negative comments appeared, and one blogger even wrote an entire article to counter every statement I had made. Instead of giving this article attention, I ignored it.

A few days later, the blog and the Twitter threat went away. The more energy you focus on trying to clean up negative comments or reviews, the less time you have to focus on your business and make it a positive place. So, save yourself by ignoring these negative events. They will go away, and leave more space for the positive reviews and the happy customers.

4. The "do over" employee/contractor

The growth of your business and the outcome of your own success depend on the solid foundation of your team. If you have employees or contractors you are paying, but you have to go over their work and redo their files, you are wasting your money, time and energy.

Related: The Hidden Benefits of Happy Co-Workers (Infographic)

As a business owner, you want to bring people aboard who care about your mission and are invested in your success. When you bring new people on to your team, ask them to list their career goals. If they are invested in personal projects or growing their own businesses, they might not be the best match for you. You want people who are committed to serving you with their special skills or talent.

5. The chronic complainer

You have a dear friend who needs you, so you drop your project to listen to him or her complain on the phone. An hour later, the friend is still going on about how life sucks, the world is unfair and there is no hope.

You may try to be there for him or her, but being a good friend means setting boundaries. When you have relationships that take you away from your business, look closely at those relationships' value. Some people are more committed to their problems than to to solutions. But not you. You are a savvy, smart business owner committed to growing your business. So, don't invest your time in chronic complainers.

6. The wrong target audience

Whom you are targeting in your business is the most important factor in your success. This means more than just knowing these people. It means actually understanding them and targeting your services and products to fulfill their needs.

Many entrepreneurs start out by trying to talk to everyone, which ultimately results in no one. I used to flip out and take it personally when people unsubscribed from my mailing list. Today, I celebrate unsubscribes because I only want to talk to the right people -- the ones who like my business and want to be part of it.

Nurturing your target audience, then, is a lot like entering a new relationship. Why would you want to continue dating someone who's "just not that into you"? So, don't take things personally. Just focus on people who already love you and you will grow your business the solid way.

Related: 13 Tricks for Landing Your First Thousand Customers

Shannon Kaiser

Author, Happiness Expert

Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of Find Your Happy, Find Your Happy Daily Mantras and Adventures for Your SoulShe appears regularly as an happiness expert on AM Northwest and Huff Post Live, and was named among the “Top 100 Women to Watch in Wellness” by the Mind Body Green. She's an author, international life coach, teacher, travel writer and inspirational speaker who left her job in advertising several years ago to follow her heart and become a writer. 

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