9 Common Business Mistakes (And They’re Not What You Think)

This is an email from a client whom I have been consulting with and coaching for over five years. I thought I would share it with you. I asked him to provide feedback on this report. His comments are below as they came to me in the email. The content of the email follows:

My wife asked me if I learned anything from my last business. (She watched a program with entrepreneurs including the founder of Burton snow boards.)

I said: Make people follow the business processes we agreed on. Manage and spend all my time managing people (or hire someone to do it.) Fire those who do not follow the business process or do not have the skill sets. Think of myself and family first, not last.

I am still sorting out what I would do differently. I told her I know that I am not a manager, that I do not have the personality to manage, because I love to create things. So I have also realized that I need to create things, put a system in place and walk away. I have learned that I need to find others who are passionate about a project and partner with them. That way, I’ll accomplish more, faster. It is the OPPS thing: One Page Partnerships.

I like your report. I keep thinking banks should sponsor you to do webinars to their small business clients around your philosophy. They advertise for you, bring the customers together, you share with them this concept and give them the white paper etc. Maybe one of the smaller regional banks.

Is there any way you can add at the beginning?.

  • As a business owner your employees expect you to:
  • Listen to their problems
  • Be their friend
  • Understand when they have issue
  • Give them a break, then another, then another
  • Pay them more each year even when things are bad
  • Offer the latest benefits

Your customers expect you to:

  • Deliver a product faster, cheaper

Your family expects you to:

  • Put food on the table
  • Buy the things that they need
  • Chauffer from place to place

SO HOW can you do everything well!

You deserve to invest in yourself! Nobody becomes small business owner with everything (skills) it takes to run a business. MANY learn that the business, because of lack of training and knowledge, RUNS their life.

Get YOUR life back. Invest in yourself.

So with that brief introduction, I bring you Nine Common Mistakes Business Owners Make (and they are not what you think.)

These nine common mistakes come from interviewing hundreds of business owners: the good one, the bad ones, the ugly ones. The good ones do things right. They may not understand that they are doing thing right, but they are. The bad ones have never been taught to be business owners. It is something they learn as they go. These owners probably never planned to be a business owner but through circumstances, they find they are running their own business. The bad business owners just do not care as long as they made money. They will leave a trail of bodies behind them.

I took the best behaviors from the business owners I interviewed over the years and distilled them into nine specific behaviors. I compared them against my clients behaviors and the behaviors of other successful business people I met. I found them to be valid. I then introduced these behaviors into a coaching program that drives these specific behaviors.

The key to success lies in how well you create an attitude of success. There are nine behaviors that successful people implement in their lives and in their business. Before we get into the specific behaviors, let us discuss the problems first. The answer lies in understanding the problem.

Mistake Number One – The first mistake business owners make, especially newer business owners, is that they are not selfish enough. Please read on to understand my definition of selfishness. It is not what you might be thinking.

Mistake Number Two – The second mistake is that business owners do not take ownership for where they are and the results they are getting.

Mistake Number Three – The third mistake is not measuring the results of your action. How do you know if something is not working if you are not measuring the outcomes?

Mistake Number Four – Successful people realize they cannot be the lone ranger. It is all about people and how to effectively utilize them.

Mistake Number Five – Many business owners are not focused. Remember mistake number one?

Mistake Number Six – They are not discipline in following the steps that lead them to the goals set in number one above (selfishness).

Mistake Number Seven- They give up too soon.

Mistake number Eight- They are not taking action!

Mistake Number Nine- They lack ideas to propel them forward.

Let us look at each mistake in more details.

Mistake Number One

Lack Of Selfishness

The first mistake business owners make, especially newer business owners, is that they are not selfish enough. I define selfishness as intelligent self interest.

Selfishness (Intelligent Self Interest)

Intelligent comes from the Latin root of intelligus, which originally met understanding. To me this means understand what is right for me. The definition of intelligent self-interest means understanding what is in my best interest. Being selfish asks, How do I protect my time, energy, and money so I am only spending them on those things that will take me closer to my goals? This kind of intelligent self-interest allows you to make sure your precious resources are only being spent on activities that benefit you and your company. This is not as easy as it sounds.

It requires that you clearly understand what you want from your business and create a plan to that will drive you forward. Many people call this a business plan or strategy. I simply call it setting goals. A goal is nothing more than defining a specific outcome and create a plan with due date. A goal without a plan and due dates is just a dream.

So get selfish. Define what you want from the business. Define a plan that will take you where you want to go. A suggestion: do not worry about being wrong. Many people do not take action because they are afraid that they will make a mistake. I can assure you you will make mistake and you may be wrong. That is ok. Understand that when you are making these mistakes the one thing you are doing is getting clear on what you want. Getting clear requires you to take ownership. Ownership leads to action. More on action later. Let us talk about ownership now.

Business owners who do not take ownership for the results they achieve in their business are bound for major problems. The next section discusses ownership in more detail.

Mistake Number Two

Lack of Ownership

The second mistake is not taking ownership for where you are (in your business and personal life).

Ownership

According to the dictionary, Ownership is the state of being an owner. It is taking the legal right to the possession of a thing. Successful people take ownership of the tangible aspects (where they live, the money they make, the people they associate with) of their life, but also the intangible aspects of their lives: their dreams, goals, and personal desires.

If you do not take ownership for achieving your dreams, who will? People who take ownership always hope for the best and plan for the worst. They are ready for what life throws at them. They have to be.

Taking ownership is about change, making change to move forward, changing behaviors that are not working, and dealing with the world as it is and not as they want it to be.

If they are not getting the desired results, they have to take ownership or they cannot effect change. It is hard to take ownership in one area of your life and not in other areas. It is a mind set, a way of life. If they do not take ownership for the results they are getting, it will be hard, maybe impossible, to implement the required change.

Many people confuse taking ownership with being responsible. There are too many external influences for you to be responsible for everything that happens to you. But you can take ownership by understanding you can respond effectively to the situation you find yourself in. Ownership is as much about deciding how you will chose to respond to a given situation as it is understanding that you do have a choice.

Taking Ownership is very empowering. Once you take ownership, you can effect change. I like to think of taking ownership as creating peace of mind. The peace of mind comes from owning the situation and taking action. You cannot have peace if you do not own the situation. Peace of mind comes from taking action and owning the situation.

Once you embrace the behavior of ownership, it is important that you take action. To take effective action you must start measuring the results you are getting. This mean you must focus on results. Unsuccessful people do not focus on the results. They work on what is easy.

Mistake Number Three

Not Measuring Results

The third mistake is not measuring the results of your action. Here is the key to understanding this: successful people understand that they cannot manage results, they can only manage the behaviors that lead to the desired results. Results are always measured in the past. If they are not getting the results they want, they change their behavior and implement the behaviors that lead to the desired results. This is not an easy thing to do. It requires flexibility and selfishness.

Orientation toward Results

Orientation towards Results means defining where you are and working towards implementing selfishness (intelligent self-interest) by defining the desired outcomes and understanding what behaviors are necessary to achieve these results. Once they define their goals, the outcomes they want to achieveĀ­, they take ownership to create your desired outcomes. They create the results they want by measuring what works and what does not. They either get the job done, or they do not. If they do not, because of ownership, they go back and try something different. No excuses. No remorse. Only results. They understand, as Yoda (from the movie Star Wars) once said (and I paraphrase) there is no trying; only doing.

Once they are clear on their goals (selfishness), take ownership for where they are, they focus on the results they want. This is important but the next problem comes from the fact that many business owner do not understand that their success is dependent on how well they manage, influence, motivates, lead, coach, discipline, sell and inspire those around them. It is called being focused on people. Let us discuss the people side of the business.

Mistake Number Four

Not Treating People the Way They Want to be Treated

Successful people realize they cannot be the lone ranger. They know they need people. The world is changing so fast that it is impossible to be an expert in all areas of business: sales, marketing, customer service, strategy, technology, etc. Many business owners do not take the time to understand people and how they want to be treated.

Focus on People

All successful people understand that their success comes with, and through, other people. Successful people recognize the individuals that contribute to their success and appreciate them for their contribution. They will also assume complete responsibility for things not working. They must. There is no other course of action when you are the owner and take ownership for the outcomes you achieve.

As Jim Collins discussed in his book Good to Great, he finds two behaviors all successful leaders implement. The first is that all successful leaders take responsibility for things that go wrong. They realize they hired the people, created or implemented the strategy, or managed the process. Because they took ownership of the challenge or opportunity, this allows them to effect change as required. The second behavior is they give credit where credit is due. They understand that there is too much to do and they know and their success is very much dependent on the behaviors of others. They spend significant time perfecting and fine tuning their people skills. This allows them to focus on what is important.

To learn more about becoming more successful with people, read my book: The Platinum Rule for Small Business Mastery. This book tells you how to understand others so you can utilize them more effectively and it allows you understand their weaknesses so you can help them to be more successful. The Platinum Rule for Small Business Mastery is Available at www.Amazon.com.

This leads us to the next mistake people make in creating success; they lack of focus.

Mistake Number Five

Lack of Focus

Many business owners are not focused. They go after all revenue opportunities, even if they are not part of their core competencies. They hire the wrong people because they are not focused on the desired outcome.

Focus

It is very hard for a company to be focused if it does not know where it is going. The dictionary defines focus as close or narrow attention; concentration. Without a clear perspective, you cannot focus on the desired outcome. It is too easy to become distracted, unorganized, and inconsistent. When you understand what it is you are to be selfish about, you generate a clear focus, a sense of purpose.

Successful business owners understand this question: Is what I am doing taking me closer to my goal? If not, they ask themselves, Why am I doing it?

If the specific behavior is not allowing you to focus on what is important, you must make a decision. The decision is simple: do I keep this behavior? A simple example might help. If you are afraid to pick up the telephone and make a cold call to someone who might become a customer, it will be hard to create success. You have two choices: learn to pick up the phone or partner with someone who can do this for you.

Either way this requires discipline. Let us take a minute and discuss why discipline is a problem.

There is an outstanding article in 49 Marketing Secrets (THAT WORK) to Grow Sales that will walk you through a process to get focused on what is important to you. This article is designed for the business owner to help them get clear on their marketing.

Mistake Number Six

Lack of Discipline

They are not discipline in following the steps necessary to achieve their goals (number one, selfishness.)

Discipline

Discipline is controlled behavior resulting from training and self-control. Your mind is made up. You have decided to achieve your goals you defined when you decided to get self.

Being disciplined means you will not abandon your goals. Discipline has taught you that business life is not smooth and that there will be rough spots. Experience has taught you that by being disciplined, you can get through the tough spots. Your eye is on the target, and you have the discipline of a laser-guided missile; you seek out your objectives, and your focus never falters.

It also means that when you understand what works you create measurable, repeatable, predictable processes to allow others to do the same things you learned to do to be successful. This ensures that you create an attitude of success within your organization.

Many people look upon discipline with the wrong perspective. Discipline, to me is simple. It is doing the same thing over again without having to think about something. For example, if you know you need to make 50 calls to get ten appointments, you make 50 calls. I meet people all the time and I am always at Bob Evans. When I am having a breakfast meeting, I always order oatmeal and coffee. I do not have to look at the menu. After all, I am not there to eat. I am there to meet. This allows me to focus on the meeting and achieving the desired outcomes, not eat. I must say it took some serious persistence to change my behavior. Let us take look at persistence and define persistence. This one is big!

Mistake Number Seven

Lack of Persistence

People and companies fail because they give up too soon.

Persistence

The Webster Dictionary defines persistence as the continuance of an effect after the cause is removed. Once they take the time to create their goal (selfishness), take ownership for the situation, get focused on implementing the disciplines to be successful, they understand that problems will surface. It is the nature of the beast. Things never work the way we expect them to work.

Successful people keep their eyes clearly fixed on your objectives (your intelligent self interest); they are persistent in trying different things to overcome these obstacles. They know where they are going; they know they can not be stopped. They know that their persistence is what drives them forward. They will find a way around any obstacle, and keep right on going. This is persistence.

A critical component of implementing these behaviors is taking action. If you are not taking action you are screwed!

Mistake number Eight

Not Taking Action

I know what to do but I am not doing it.

They are not taking action!

Take Action

Success, in the original sense of the word, simply means to take action. When in doubt, do something – anything. Successful people understand that they can always correct something that is not working. They also understand they cannot correct an action that is not taken.

Do not be confused by the outcome of success: new car, new house, more time off, etc. These are outcomes of success. This is not success. Success, simply defined, is taking action. When you take action you can achieve the outcomes of success.

Many time people have a great idea. They believe their idea will lead them to success but they have no idea how to move forward. Or, they have so many ideas that they cannot make up their mind. Successful people know they need people to help them implement their ideas. Successful people know too many ideas will not move them closer to their goal. Let us take a minute and discuss the concept of the idea.

Mistake Number Nine

Too Many Ideas (or not enough) Ideas

This problem is a bit different from the others we have been discussing. The problem here is that people tend to either focus on too many ideas or they do not have any idea on how to move forward towards their goal.

Ideas

Most people have an abundance of ideas and this is the problem. Once they get selfish by focusing on one specific goal, they can generate ideas that allow them to implement their intelligent self-interest. This will move them to new level, both personally and professionally. If you are not clear, the abundance of ideas will just get further off track. Getting selfish is very important here. It is also important to understand that ideas typically come from others. Remember, it is all about people.

Let us take a minute and review what you learned.

Summary

We discussed the nine biggest business problem that business owner make. Let us review:

  1. They are not selfish
  2. They do not take ownership
  3. They do not measure results.
  4. They are not persistent
  5. They are not disciplined
  6. They do not take action
  7. They are not focused
  8. They lack ideas that will propel them forward
  9. They do not understand or appreciate the role others play in their success.

We also learned that the definition of success is simply taking action. To learn how to overcome these mistakes call Ron Finklestein.