I’ve been recently letting the negative narrative in my head take over. Why not? After all, I’m quite a glutton for punishment. During my latest mental tailspin I obsessed about the stupid business mistakes I’ve made in the past. Thankfully, my brain grew tired of chewing up its own self-confidence and turned its attention (as it rarely does) to others. But, on a positive note, what came out of it was this handy list of the Top Ten Mistakes Business Owners Make. The hard part was keeping it under ten.
Anyways, have a read (or listen to the business podcast episode) and maybe you can bypass some of these hard earned lessons by myself and a few others I know…
#10 – Being the Boss Instead of the Leader
Why are you micro managing? Stop it. From my perspective, it’s all about mission and purpose. When your people are a part of something big, they’ll give you their all. Your job, as the leader, is to make sure the vision is clear and well communicated.
#9 – Discouraging Innovation
Why have great people if you’re not going to give them the freedom to shine? Drop the arrogance and give them the space to experiment and innovate. Keep your mind open, but know when to pivot if something isn’t working. You’re the owner of a company. It will be much more successful if you treat it like one.
#8 – Going for the Quick Fix
Do you sometimes feel like a professional fly swatter, instead of a business owner? Well then, stop swatting flies and clean up the shit. The downside to shit removal is that you have to do it while surrounded by flies. The good news is that the time you spend solving the core problems will save you ten times the time down the road. A great way to solve the big problems is to create a culture of problem solving and independence within your company. You might feel less valuable without your fly swatter, but you’ll be a much happier business owner.
#7 – Not Giving Your People the Tools to Succeed
Does most of your staff suck? Maybe the problem is you. Work with them to develop process and give them responsibility. Strong process makes people management easy. When I say “give them responsibility,” I mean give them a number to own. Base their job performance on the management or improvement of that number. Make sure you’ve done all you can do to contribute to their success before you let them go. The latter is expensive, diminishes the strength of your culture and makes you less happy.
#6 – Thinking Your Investors Care About You
Oh yes, the day you realize your investors don’t care about you is a painful one for sure. If you were to get smacked by a speeding truck, you’re investors would want to immediately know: a) if you’re dead b) if you’ve been incapacitated or c) you’ll live to return back to running the company at some point. Not because they care about you (don’t get me wrong), but because they would need to determine how they’re going to protect their investment. Investors want a 10x (or more) return on investment. You and your company is the tool for which they accomplish that. Nothing more. But, you’re not the only tool in this bargain. Investors can be a tool for you to accomplish your vision. But I don’t recommend using that tool unless you have to. Hopefully knowing this makes you a little happier.
#5 – Giving up Control Too Soon
There’s a good time to give up control and there’s not a good time to give up control. Think it through very, very thoroughly before you do. You’ll hear things like “I’d rather have 10% of something than 100% of nothing.” But you could also end up with 10% of nothing if you give up control too soon. You’re primary purpose as the leader is to maintain vision and purpose. The people you give control to might have a different agenda. Just keep that in mind…
#4 – Avoiding the Stuff You Don’t Want to Learn
Take your head out of the sand. Whatever it is you’re not interested in or think is too complicated for you to learn, bring in a partner to teach you, hire a consultant that knows – just figure it out. One of my favorite mentors of all time told me simply to: “know your shit.” And there’s a thousand reasons why he’s right. So whatever category of business management you’re avoiding right now, stop avoiding it. You’ll be much, much happier for it.
#3 – Misallocating Resources
This is a good one. Never ceases to amaze me what business owners (including my silly self) spend money on and why. I’m all about taking risks, but when it comes to money and resources the risks need to be very well calculated (especially at the start). This is a subject that’s all about money and time, particularly relating to the amount of time you have said money. Here’s some advice: Don’t spend on crap that makes you feel legit. Be legit. Stop short-changing your investment in brand, media assets and product. And don’t get cheap on revenue generating employees, that’s resource suicide. Oh, and don’t spend all your money on a product and take it to market until you’re at least 95% sure you’ll get a fast return. I’ve made that mistake. “Where’d all your money go?” “It’s in that storage unit, over there. I turned it into ten thousand things nobody wants…” Ugh….
#2 – Trying to be Something You’re not
Too many new business owners / entrepreneurs try to look big, before they are big. Taking that approach just makes you look silly and it’s not attractive. Just be where you are and make situationally appropriate decisions. People like you for who you are. And they like your company for who it is. Don’t overdo it, be authentic.
#1 – Being Afraid to Fail
You shouldn’t be, don’t want to be and can’t be afraid to fail. This is the biggest mistake business owners and entrepreneurs make because fear is the great debilitator. At worst, it stops you in your tracks. At best, it makes you take foolish actions. Do your homework, follow your instincts and be fearless. The worst thing that can happen when you fail is that you learn – and learning is what this job is all about.
So stay fearless, my friends. And listen Sundays at 1PM on Freedom 970.