As entrepreneurs, we often seek out advice and direction on what to do to achieve business success. Few of us realize, though, that there are actually things we should stop doing as well. We may not even be aware we’re doing some of these things, and others may be holdovers from when we were employees rather than entrepreneurs. Regardless of where they came from, here are the five things you should STOP doing today if you want to be more successful.
1.Selling What You "Do"
I love what I do. I created a software product that solves a big headache for my nonprofit clients. I love talking about it. And I need to stop.
As entrepreneurs, we can’t wait to talk about our products and services. According to Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, we need to stop doing that if we want people to buy from us. Sinek explains, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
So resist the urge to sell what you do and rediscover your “why.” Then find people who believe the why of it, too. For example, imagine you need some great head shots. Photographer A says, "I take great pictures and then I sell the photographs; how many would you like?" Photographer B says, "I believe everyone has a unique story and my gift is to help them tell that story through beautiful images. How can I help you tell your story today?” Who might you buy from?
Resist the urge to sell what you do and rediscover your “why.” Then find people who believe the why of it, too.
2. Forgetting to Recharge Your Passion
Most of us start businesses as a result of a passion to create something—something new, better, or even different. Just like a professional athlete though, sometimes our passion becomes buried under the job-aspects of our livelihood. We need to recharge ourselves by getting closer to our product and service again. For example, talk to clients, brainstorm ideas with your team or sit in on a sales pitch.
For me, recharging comes from reminding myself that I started my company not because I enjoy spreadsheets and endless angel investor pitches, but because I love serving others and helping nonprofits. So I feed that passion by taking a few hours a month to volunteer with a local nonprofit or at my church. Wherever your passion comes from, don’t forget to nourish it to keep it alive and thriving.
3. Going it Alone
Entrepreneurship isn’t a code word for becoming a lone wolf. Even solopreneurs and introverted entrepreneurs need to connect with others. Clients and prospective clients are at the top of that list. But don’t make the mistake of thinking client value comes only from the revenue they generate. These people have unique insights that can help you build, improve, and, if needed, redirect your product or service. Talk to them often!
Mentors and business coaches may be one of the least used and most widely available resources for entrepreneurs. Leveraging the experience of someone who has gone before can be invaluable to creating a successful entrepreneurial journey. Look for mentors and business coaches at SCORE, local accelerators, networking events, and of, course, eWomenNetwork. (Did you know your eWomenNetwork membership comes with 2 complimentary Premier Success coaching sessions!).
Peers are another often over-looked resource for entrepreneurs. And, according to research from Brock Bastian of the University of New South Wales in Australia, sharing even painful experiences can act as “social glue” to increase cooperation and feelings of solidarity. So don’t hesitate to share your challenges—but be sure to share your wins, too. Both are necessary for productive relationships.
Leveraging the experience of someone who has gone before can be invaluable to creating a successful entrepreneurial journey
4. Controlling vs. Leading
No one knows your company as well as you do. And since the beginning, you have likely made all of the important decisions. So it’s no surprise that letting go of some of that control is hard when you start to grow.
If you don’t relinquish some of the reins though, you’ll drive the innovation and creativity out of your employees. That’s because employees are remarkably adaptable to the culture you set. If you want to make all of the decisions, your employees will let you. Likewise, if you create a culture that punishes mistakes, your employees will seek out approval on every action. Both are inefficient, create bottlenecks and can be detrimental to your company.
On the contrary, if you give up complete control and delegate every decision to your team or employees, the organization will likely move in several directions—all based on the view of the individual decision maker at the time.
As a leader, you must balance decision-making and your vision. You are the architect of the vision that created your company. So clearly state the vision and empower employees to make decisions that align it. When decisions deviate from the vision, steer the employee back on track. And when decisions are well-aligned and successful, give exuberant praise to the decision maker.
5. Giving Into Impatience for Success
It’s easy to see someone else’s success and want to achieve it, too. It’s also common to think theirs was an overnight success and want that phenomenon for your own company. But overnight successes are very rare. Most successful entrepreneurs have spent years building the foundations of their businesses. We only hear about them when they reach an important milestone--but we don’t often hear about each laboring step to get there.
The truth is, entrepreneurship is hard work. It takes time and energy. By wanting success rather than working for it, you may end up discouraging yourself and sabotaging your success.
Instead of giving in to impatience for success, plan for what your business will look in 5-10 years. Identify the steps it will take to create that success and celebrate each step along the way. Soon, everyone may be lauding your significant milestone—they may even label you the latest “overnight” success.
Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle - Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO, eWomenNetwork
Author, Carol O'Brien
Carol O'Brien has a servant's heart and an entrepreneurial spirit. She is the CEO and co-founder of Get Involved Company and believes that nonprofits of all sizes should have affordable, effective tools to accomplish mission-critical goals. She created a software and services solution that helps nonprofits fund raise, recruit volunteers, sell event tickets and generate awareness for their causes. Carol has launched two successful businesses, is an author, and has an MBA in entrepreneurship and marketing from Babson College. Carol is a member of the Austin Chapter of eWomenNetwork and is always up for meeting members and potential members for a cup of coffee!