9 Blind Spots That Sabotage Businesses, and How to Beat Them

The biggest challenge entrepreneurs may face is either a self-limiting or self-inflated view of their capabilities.

learn more about Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal

By Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal

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Entrepreneurs regularly confront a host of tough challenges. Just a sampling among them: landing their first sale, growing their customer base, hiring the right employees, managing cash flow and getting access to funding.

But the biggest challenge entrepreneurs may face is either a self-limiting or self-inflated view of their capabilities. Possessing fear, self-doubt, over-confidence, in-group thinking, misplaced commitment to a selected course of action or entrepreneurial myopia are just some ways an entrepreneur can sabotage his or her business.

Gallup research identified 10 talents of successful entrepreneurs and reveals nine potential blind spots that can hurt the venture.

1. Relentless focus on profitability

Making money is the primary objective of a business. But when profit orientation becomes an obsession, customer relationships can suffer. In a "profit first" culture, employees are under immense pressure to maximize revenue with little consideration for the customer experience.

Advice: Don't lose sight of the human element in business. Keep customer expectations in mind when making decisions.

Related: Why Admitting Your Mistakes Will Make You a Better Leader

2. Overconfidence

Confidence grows businesses, but overconfidence can hurt it. Overconfidence leads entrepreneurs to underestimate the complexity of the situation, and overcommit resources in pursuit of an opportunity without assessing competition.

Advice: Avoid the speed trap. When the window of opportunity is narrow, pause and build what-if scenarios before taking action.

3. Unfocused creativity

Intellectual curiosity spurs growth, but too many ideas can be counter-productive. Lack of focus might cause an entrepreneur to launch multiple initiatives at the same time, losing sight of their core business and confusing their teams.

Advice: Select ideas that streamline your business and add value for your customers.

4. Need for control

Go-it-alone entrepreneurs can single-handedly get things done in a startup environment. But as the venture begins to grow, their need for control keeps them from focusing on activities that bring the highest value to a growing business.

Advice: Hire, train and transfer responsibilities to others.

5. Ineffective delegation

Delegation is key to growth. But setting up an effective delegation process is hard. Often, entrepreneurs hand off tasks to those with the least on their plate and make the mistake of micromanaging the person -- behaviors that lead to costly mistakes.

Advice: When delegating, identify the right person for the task, give clear instructions and be patient. Building capacity of your team members takes time and effort.

Related: How to Stop Sabotaging Success

6. Misplaced commitment to a selected course of action

Entrepreneurs with high tenacity and perseverance may have the tendency to stick with a failing strategy, even when the results are consistently below expectations.

Advice: Set specific milestones to gauge progress on your project. Be prepared to change course if needed.

7. Entrepreneurial myopia

It's not uncommon for entrepreneurs to fall in love with their idea or product. Their closeness to it and an intense desire to see it succeed blinds them to its flaws.

Advice: Try to be objective about what you offer to the market. Surround yourself with trusted advisers who can help you assess situation objectively.

8. Ineffective networks

Robust and diversified personal networks facilitate venture growth. But many entrepreneurs either fail to build an effective network or are unable to adapt the network to accommodate their venture's evolving resource needs.

Advice: Figure out strategies to build your social quotient. Don't forget to refresh and reshape your networks as your needs change.

9. Confirmation bias

Successful entrepreneurs have highly positive self-image, which leads them to favor information confirming their beliefs and opinions, while discounting information that contradicts their viewpoint. This bias affects their decision-making.

Advice: Interact with people with opposite viewpoints. Allow them to counter your ideas and concepts. This will help you perceive opportunities more realistically.

Your behaviors may or may not be easy to change, but they tell you where to begin. Recognize and understand your most basic qualities. Once you understand your strengths, biases and preferences, create a road map to systematically and consistently nurture your strengths and manage areas of weaknesses.

This nurturing of positive behaviors and figuring out strategies to manage areas that can negatively affect your business will yield extraordinary results. It will accelerate your personal development and positively influence the sustainability and growth of your venture.

Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal

Primary Researcher for Gallup's Entrepreneurship and Job Creation initiative

Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, Ph.D., is the primary researcher for Gallup’s Entrepreneurship and Job Creation initiative, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Badal is responsible for translating research findings into interventions that drive small-business growth and is co-author of the book Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder with Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton. Badal earned her doctorate in anthropology and geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and is based in Omaha, Neb.

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