If you are just starting out on your business journey, you will no doubt be aware that you have a lot to learn. As well as the things you should do to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to know the things that you shouldn’t. Below are the seven deadly sins, with a special business twist– if you can avoid these in your entrepreneurial career, you won’t be going far wrong.
Anger is inevitable in business. Entrepreneurs don’t have to be cool and calm at all times, but the scenarios in which business people lose their temper differ greatly.
One of the worst things a business owner can do is direct their wrath at someone who doesn’t deserve it. For example, a supplier lets the company down and leaves a huge order in the lurch. The entrepreneur, struggling to control their temper, verbally snaps at the company who have let them down, destroying that business relationship forever. Or, worse yet, the entrepreneur loses their temper at one of their own (blameless) employees.
What you should learn: Anger is an inevitable emotion for anyone embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. However, you have to try and control your temper and think of the future when setbacks occur.
Entrepreneurs have to keep an eye on their competitors; they have to know their market and where they fit into it. Sadly, this necessity can sometimes become a preoccupation.
Some entrepreneurs find themselves falling into a trap of envy, looking at what their competitors are doing, or what profits they are generating, and feeling downhearted about their own efforts. This gives way to feelings of never being able to achieve enough; of being inferior; and ultimately, can cause an entrepreneur to abandon their business dreams– permanently.
What you should learn: As a famous quote says, comparison is the thief of joy. Note what your competitors are doing, but don’t become consumed by their success— their business isn’t yours, so keep the focus on what you can control, and make the most of the opportunities you do have.
There’s nothing wrong with being a proud person, and entrepreneurs need to be able to be proud of their work– how else can they expect to be paid for it? An entrepreneur has to be selling a product or service they are proud of which, by definition, means being proud of themselves for producing it.
However, pride can cause a number of downfalls in a business, the most common of which is not knowing what they don’t know.
It’s easy to fall into this trap. Business owners have taken an idea and built it into a reality, so they can quickly feel as if they are invincible. They have been dealing with problems that allow their business to flourish for so long that they begin to think they can handle anything.
The area most affected by this is IT and technology. “I use a computer,” they’re tempted to think. “I’m sure I can figure out the IT and tech this business needs..”
Of course, they can’t, because these are niche and specialist areas, and their business suffers as a result.
What you should learn: Sure, a one-person business can handle their own IT and tech for awhile, but as soon as expansion becomes an obvious possibility, it’s time to know what you don’t know and look for more information on companies that can plug your knowledge gap.
AVARICE and SLOTH
Most entrepreneurs like to turn a profit and make money, so how can you separate a healthy desire for monetary success from something more worrying? And how can that connect to sloth?
The two are actually incredible interlinked in very specific circumstances to which many entrepreneurs fall victim: they become far too controlling of money. Entrepreneurs are so aware of the terrible business failure percentages that they hoard every penny, cut costs wherever possible, and constantly check the business finances to ensure all is in order. Crucially, this means they don’t spend where their business needs investment.
The result of this parsimony? A business that is not expanding is not growing; it experiences inertia– which, as it happens, is a synonym for sloth. These two sins are inextricably linked when it comes to entrepreneurs.
What you should learn: Profits are good, and a healthy bank balance even better, but if you’re going to scale and expand your business, you have to invest. Take it slowly and consult a financial advisor, but don’t let an opportunity pass you by because your hold on the purse strings is a little too tight.
Gluttony is traditionally associated with food, but on this occasion, it’s possible to spin it slightly and use it to determine excess.
Entrepreneurs fall victim to their gluttony when their business is going well and they are in the midst of expansion. Their business is growing, their coffers are looking healthy, and they decide… why not invest more? Borrow more money, so as to expand even bigger than planned?
Eventually, the bubble bursts.
What you should learn: Go slow when it comes to expansion, being circumspect in your decisions, and never taking a risk that isn’t calculated and assessed. Caution will, ultimately, be your best ally in your business.
Finally, lust, a sin that doesn’t quite seem to scan for business, but which is more apposite than you might think.
Entrepreneurs can fall into a trap of lusting for all the wrong things. This tends to happen the longer they have been in business, and the one lustful feeling — which can be so intense it becomes consuming — is for admiration. It ceases to be enough that they built their business from the ground up; they begin to seek recognition and acclaim.
Of course, in the midst of doing this, they take their eye off the ball with their business– and soon there might not be anything for them to actually receive acclamation for.
What you can learn: Success is nice, and everyone wants to be respected, but try and manage your expectations about the level of praise and acclamation you will receive. Ultimately, if you manage to build a successful business, that alone is all the justification you need– because you have succeeded where so many others have failed.
Every entrepreneur is different; some will display all of these traits, others only a few, and select entrepreneurs will display different traits at different points on their business path. Hopefully, you will be able to avoid these sins entirely now you know how they manifest, and what you should focus on instead.
I know the road is a long and sometimes bumpy path to success, however, as this contributed article seeks to remind every business owner – it is important to give our business and our goals for that business, an occasional check-up. It is always a good thing to keep on one’s toes.
I wish you success in your undertaking and good business health.