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Spring Clean Out These 9 No-Good Entrepreneur Habits for Start-Up Success

Are you guilty of one or more of these nine bad entrepreneurial habits? Well, you aren’t the only one, but these prosperous entrepreneurs have circumvented these challenges and found start-up success.

Nicole Crampton

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As an entrepreneur, your business is your baby, but as a parent you could find you’re being a touch overprotective.

Have you noticed some of these nine no-good habits creeping into your day-to-day practices?

Here is some advice from entrepreneurs who have found themselves in the same boat as you, and managed to turn things around:


Bad Habit No.9

Multitasking

multitasking-habit

Studies have revealed that your IQ level drops by 10% when attempting to multitask and productivity drops by 40%.

In fact, we should call multitasking, switch-tasking since you aren’t simultaneously completing two projects at once; you’re simply dividing your attention between them without allowing your brain to focus fully on one task at a time.

Trying to complete too many tasks at the same time can also reduce the quality of your final product. As an entrepreneur and the driving force behind your business, you don’t want to lower the quality of the products going out the door because you’re trying to do too much at the same time, or you think this process helps to increase your productivity.

Top Advice

“No one can be (switched) on 24/7, and the trouble today is that with Internet access and smart devices, we’re all reachable anywhere, receiving a constant stream of information we feel compelled to reply to.

Leaders tend to want more and more, but good managers should encourage their teams to take time off to recharge, and to encourage daily down time by making a habit of going offline,” say co-founders Melody Tomlinson and Diane Collier from the Performance Booster Programme.

“There’s also a multitude of studies proving that being ‘always-on’ negatively impacts your ability to be effective, and that downtime leads to higher productivity.”

Related: 7 Habits To Live By Even When The “Going Is Good”


Bad Habit No. 8

Failing to delegate tasks

business-delegation

To create a successful business, you need to be able to work independently as well as part of a team. But, if every project is causing a bottleneck when it hits your desk, then it could be a sign that it’s time to loosen the reigns a bit. Your workplace can be a harmonious environment if you include your team and share in the responsibilities of new projects.

It’s understandable that you’re nervous about giving someone else some control, but you can’t be everywhere and you can’t do everything. The sooner you allow your team to grow in responsibility and knowledge, the faster amazing results will start coming in your door. Your employees want to help you make your business great, which leaves you time to focus on the bigger picture and the strategy forward.

Top Advice

“One of the most important things I have learnt is to let other people in your organisation take the lead,” says social entrepreneur and co-founder of DreamGirls, Ezlyn Barends. “That has been an important realisation for me as I am involved in many initiatives, which makes time a precious resource.”


Bad Habit No. 7

Not making decisions

not-making-decisions

When faced with a sudden expansion of their business, the executives at Jones Lang Lasalle had to quickly find space to accommodate the new team. They took the opportunity to revolutionise how they worked by opting for an activity-based work environment.

Top Advice

“We chose The Firs in Rosebank because we wanted a pedestrianised, first-world location where our people can pop out for lunch or go for a walk whenever they choose. Because the move presented us with an opportunity to do something avant-garde, we decided to create a space that would double as a showroom for clients (which they love). We are living the offering that we’re proposing to clients and testing it in our own business,” explains Craig Hean, MD of JLL. 

Related: 3 Tough Habits You Must Drop To Succeed


Bad Habit No. 6

Allowing interruptions to happen

task-interruptions

The New York Times reported that the USA losses an estimated USD650 billion in productivity, due to constant staff interruptions.

Can your business really afford to lose on both productivity and money because your team is being unnecessarily interrupted throughout the day?

If you’re finding yourself in situations where you seem to just have too much to do and not enough time to do it in, then start noting down how this is happening in your day and for how long before you get back to the task at hand. If this is happening to you, it’s probably happening to everyone, and your company needs to set up rules about unnecessary interruptions.

When Z Capital, an investment and management consultancy group, started out, co-founder Amanda Cuba soon realised that she needed to focus on the strategy of her business, but prioritising planning over building a business seemed to be impossible.

Top Advice

“In the beginning, I was involved on a tactical level, and strategy came second. Then my coach advised me to set aside time for strategy unless I wanted the business to fail, even if that meant putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on my door,” explains Amanda Cuba co-founder of Z Capital.


Bad Habit No. 5

Doing everything on the fly

unplanned-on-the-fly

PC: Pinterest

Being the go-to-person in your company can only take you so far. If there are vital aspects of your operation that can’t function without you, you could be setting your business up to fail. There have been cases where entrepreneurs have tried to sell their business, but because the entrepreneur is the business they were unable to.

It’s healthy to play a central role in your business, but you need to be able to step away from your business, and not lose sleep over projects that are not going to plan. Implementing systems and processes within your business can help you to create consistency throughout, which brings everyone on the same page a lot faster.

Founder, Yacoob Carr from Munaaz Catering Equipment realised early on that having systems and processes were so essential to a business that he created a business that offers creative chefs a framework to work with.

Top Advice

“We love what we do because we provide the magic that makes everything happen behind the scenes. We give celebrity chefs like Luke Dale-Roberts, of The Test Kitchen fame, the tools to produce the wonderful dishes he creates. That gives me so much joy. Our clients are creators, and they inspire us. In turn, we take satisfaction from knowing that we add real value to their lives by helping them to meet their goals,” says Yacoob Carr from Munaaz Catering Equipment.

When customers choose Munaaz Catering Equipment, he explains, they purchase peace of mind, and not just a product. This is a critical factor in the hospitality industry and in the high-end food service business in particular, where consumers are fussy and have high expectations.

Related: 10 Habits That Help You Learn Twice As Fast


Bad Habit No. 4

Thinking short-term

short-term-thinking

Yes, thinking short-term can help you out of a tough situation, but there’s a time and a place for everything. If your business is surviving with tactics your team is developing from one month to the next, you may find it almost impossible to scale your business and hold on to customers when you’re not cultivating repeat business.

It may seem like your company is doing well but you need to shift gears and plan for the long game if you want to scale and retain clients. Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane from ShowLove created a unique business that thrives on solid relationships that he cultivated long-term.

Top Advice

“I’ve stopped taking on one-off jobs. I think it’s better to create a long-term relationship with a client. When considering a new job, you have to ask if the job is worth your time. Is it big enough, or will it only be diverting you from jobs that are potentially more lucrative?

Getting repeat work is not about being the cheapest, but about being the best. If you can show that you really add value, clients will be more than willing to pay, explains Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane from ShowLove.


Bad Habit No. 3

Taking unnecessary risks 

risk-taker

Starting your own business can be risky; you took a big risk from the word go when you started your business. But there’s a difference between taking calculated risks with the potential for reward, and unnecessary risks caused by poor systems and processes and ‘unforeseen’ circumstances.

The digital landscape, for example, allows you to connect with more of your customers than ever before, but it also leaves you open to PR nightmares. There are numerous channels of communication available that you will need to somehow manage, or risk damaging your company’s image.

Top Advice

“Scenario planning and risk management is incredibly important,” says Magna Carta CEO Vincent Magwenya.

“You need to have some sort of strategy in place for the day when you find yourself at the centre of a social media debacle. An online catastrophe arrives quickly and unexpectedly, and managing it effectively can be tough. The last thing you want to do is to lash out like a snake trapped in a corner, behaving counter-productively and fanning the flames, so you want a strategy in place that will take emotional responses out of the equation.” 

Related: 5 Habits Of The Wealthy That Help Them Get Rich


Bad Habit No. 2

Not listening 

not-listening

You chose your team for their knowledge, expertise and experience; by not listening to what they have to say you’re only making more work for yourself.

As the creator of the business, some entrepreneurs feel the onus is on them to come up with all the ideas and strategies. But this isn’t true; your team are a part of your business because they want to help you achieve success.

Otherwise, it’s as if you have a great rugby team, but all your players are sitting on the bench and you’re the only one on the field. How can you succeed like that? The only trick is, hiring a great team to begin with, so you can feel comfortable collaborating with your staff.

Top Advice

“People go to work to fulfil what’s most important to them. Because of this, you need to ask yourself two questions when hiring an employee: Does the prospective employee’s vision align with the company’s, and will their daily tasks inspire them.

You need to find out what a person’s values are. If a job in no way aligns with what a person is already dedicated to, the fit won’t be ideal and the work will suffer,” explains Dr John Demartini of The Demartini Institute.


Bad Habit No. 1

Taking on too much without direction

no-direction

The benefit of adopting a Lean Start-up methodology is that it provides a start-up the opportunity to find its niche and become the best at delivering its product or service. Your business could find itself in trouble if you are trying to be in every part of your value chain and offer your customer everything they could ever need.

At some point you will find your business is just stretched too thin and can’t maintain competitiveness operating in so many different, diversified spaces. This is when you need to decide to pull the reigns back, and figure out exactly what you want to do with your business and where you want your business to go.

To make your start-up a success you need to find your niche and you need to launch into that niche with everything your business has. You need to own that niche and everything there is to do with it, become the best at what you do, even if you only offer one product.

Top Advice:

Smaller operations can remain competitive even when behemoths invade their market. Despite the presence of Apple Music, Indie Shuffle has remained relevant by offering niche content that’s carefully curated, and by staying at the forefront of technology. It might depend on tastemakers rather than algorithms for curation, but it fully realises the importance of technological innovation,” explains Jason Grishkoff of Indie Shuffle.

Read next: 5 Habits That Made Elon Musk An Innovator

Nicole Crampton is an online writer for Entrepreneur Magazine. She has studied a BA Journalism at Monash South Africa. Nicole has also completed several courses in writing and online marketing.

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Self Development

Listening To These 8 Audiobooks On Success Is A Better Use Of Your Long Commute

Commuting is mostly just unpaid work, unless you make an effort to learn something along the way.

John Boitnott

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Commutes are getting longer, and in some cities they’re up to two hours each way. I have a friend in Los Angeles who does this. He passes the time with audiobooks. Now that’s still a lot of time to be stuck in transit, but he doesn’t view it that way. He says it allows him plenty of time to feed his personal and professional goals.

I’ve spent years listening to literature in the car while commuting, but somewhere along the line I switched over to books on business and personal improvement. I mostly gravitated toward amazing people who built their success from scratch and who experienced tremendous hardship. It stands to reason that if you’re dealing with hardships like a long commute, it’s important to hear motivational words that can help you transcend the difficulties.

Here are eight audiobooks that will help grow your success, both personal and professional, on your next commute:

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Self Development

3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

Erik Kruger

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3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Goal setting as a concept makes perfect sense. At the most basic level you decide on the destination and then plot the way to get there. But as with many things, we like to overcomplicate that which should be simple.

Before you know it, you end up with 2 big goals in 15 different areas of your life and 100 micro goals that will help you reach your 30 big goals.

Complicating something simple. Some of the biggest obstacles to people in reaching their goals are:

  • The overestimate the effort it will take to achieve those goals
  • They want to go from 0-100km/h in the blink of an eye
  • Life is dynamic and static goals often do not make sense
  • They get so entrenched in the day to day running of things that goals get pushed aside.

What if instead of goals, we just focused on giving our best every day?

Of course, you still want to have an indication of where you are going.

But, if you are giving your 100% every day then you can forego the micro goals for a better way of calibrating your compass… using questions.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

I suggest you ask yourself these three questions regularly:

1. What does better look like?

The question at the heart of development and incremental improvement. This question allows you some creative space in which you can imagine a better future.

  • What does better health look like?
  • What does a better business look like?
  • What does better customer service look like?
  • What does better leadership look like?

By reflecting on this question, you materialise the gap between where you are and where you could be. Now, the only thing that is left is to align your daily actions with the better future you imagined.

2. What can I control?

Borrowed from Stoicism this question highlights the power of decision in your life. Epictetus said we should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

Once you ask this of yourself regularly you will feel more in control of your life and more in control of your business.

Why?

Because your focus is solely on the things that you can influence. It restores the belief that you can actually impact the world around you in a meaningful way.

3. Was I impeccable with my actions today?

One inherent flaw with goal setting is that the goal setter often feels judged. As if we need more of that. In addition to the constant negative self-talk we have to endure we now have an additional source of judgement – whether we reached our goals or not.

As we discovered in question #2 We cannot control everything. Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

So, instead of judging yourself, commit to giving your best every single day.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win


Accountability

What I love most about these questions is that they provide a built-in layer of accountability. Use them every day.

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Self Development

To Be Successful Stay Far Away From These 7 Types of Toxic People

You need a network of talented people, not toxic personalities who undermine you.

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Surrounding yourself with prospective mentors is an excellent way to build lifelong success. When Steve Jobs founded Apple, he learned from colleagues like Steve Wozniak about what it took to build computer hardware. And he learned from early investors like Mike Markkula about what it took to build a successful company and market a product. Now imagine if Jobs had surrounded himself with toxic personalities instead. It is likely that he would not have been able to create a company that is on course to be valued at $1 trillion.

If you interact with people who demonstrate questionable behaviour, you’re more likely to model that behaviour yourself or to become stressed as a result. At the very least, you will be missing out on the opportunity to network with more successful and inspiring individuals.

This article will review seven personality types that should be eliminated from your life in order to build your most successful self. Once these people are gone, you can work on building a network of people who influence you positively.

1. Micromanagers

According to a report by NPR, micromanagement is one of the biggest factors associated with employee dissatisfaction, lowered motivation and lack of professional creativity. To be successful, you must learn to solve problems independently. Micromanaging can make it difficult to develop these skills.

Related: Keep An Eye Out For Toxic Employees

2. Short-term thinkers

If you surround yourself with short-term thinkers, it will be difficult to know if an idea is destined for long-term success. Those who are narrow-minded may be more likely to dismiss one of your ideas because it will take time to develop into a meaningful success.

Take the creation of Airbnb as an example. The company was founded in 2008. At the time the “sharing economy” did not exist, and hotel chains like Starwood and Hilton dominated the lodging market. A short-term thinker would have criticised an idea like Airbnb.

In order for the company to be successful, Airbnb would need to change people’s attitudes and expectations about travel. They would need to encourage people to be comfortable staying with strangers, and they would need to find ways to mitigate possible liability should something tragic happen during a customer’s stay.

Well-respected venture capitalists decided to pass on Airbnb because of these short-term concerns. The Airbnb founders were only able to find success once they connected with people who were comfortable thinking long term.

3. Pessimists

pessimistsPessimism is not always a bad trait; at times it can help entrepreneurs to recognize certain pitfalls that might otherwise be overlooked. However, a steady diet of pessimism is toxic when it comes to taking big professional risks.

As David Armor, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, says, “An entrepreneur starting up a company, for example, might drive himself to work 18-hour days for months and even years because he optimistically believes that there will be a big payoff for him at the end.” Conversely, a pessimistic attitude would make it difficult to tolerate such a prolonged stressful situation.

For those interested in taking on stressful professional situations, pessimistic people should be avoided in most cases.

Related: Tips on how to Survive and Thrive in a Toxic Workplace

4. Selfish people

Relationships that contribute to success are mutually beneficial. This dynamic cannot exist when dealing with selfish people. As a result, it is best to eliminate selfish people from your life in order to make room for more giving relationships.

A recent study found that a job applicant who is referred by an existing employee is 15 times more likely to be hired than someone who applies via a job board. If you befriend a selfish person, you probably can’t rely on them to introduce you to new career opportunities. However, forming connections with someone who is altruistic could give you a professional leg up.

5. Risk-averse personalities

Business success is about making informed decisions by weighing risks and rewards. If you are surrounded by people who over-index on possible risks while ignoring the possible rewards, it will be challenging to identify good business opportunities.

Take Amazon as an example. In 2014 Amazon launched a smartphone called the Fire Phone. In the end, the phone was not successful. Following the unsuccessful launch of the Fire Phone, risk-averse people might have avoided developing another piece of computer hardware.

But instead, Amazon correctly assessed the opportunity for an in-home smart speaker, and launched the Amazon Echo just one year later. Today, Echo has 75 percent of the smart-speaker market in the United States.

6. Unmotivated individuals

People who lack motivation or work ethic set a bad example for those interested in working diligently to become a professional success. There is no worse colleague than someone who simply does the bare minimum to get by.

Rather than associate yourself with people who cut corners or avoid hard work, try to surround yourself with people who are motivated to succeed. Collaborating with people who have a healthy drive for success can instill an extra dose of motivation in you.

Related: 3 Strategies for Dealing With Toxic People

7. Spendthrifts

Financial responsibility is a critically important quality to develop if you want to become successful. Warren Buffet is perhaps the supreme example of a financially responsible and successful person.

Buffet is the third wealthiest person in the world, worth nearly $80 billion. But despite his professional success, Buffet does not spend his money on flashy cars or large homes. In fact, Buffet still lives in the modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, that he purchased in 1958.

Those who associate with spendthrifts may be more motivated to make irresponsible financial decisions in order to fit in. At the very least, it will be harder to associate with people who make good financial choices, as these personalities are frequently diametrically opposed.

Conclusion

Business is all about who you know. From landing a new job to launching a new company, your network will enable or prevent future professional success. When developing a network of talented people, it is best to avoid toxic personalities who could set a bad example or demotivate you.

Be sure to avoid people who are micromanagers and short-term thinkers, as they can make it difficult to think autonomously. Risk-averse individuals or pessimists may cause you to think twice about great business ideas, and spendthrifts or selfish people may hamper your ability to grow. Last but not least, stay away from unmotivated individuals, as your success is dependent on your willingness to work diligently in order to succeed.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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