*This article was written and edited by Tracey Spicer’s mentee Nicole Iliagoueva
Let’s face it, not everyone has the skills to become an entrepreneur. Being your own boss is empowering, but it requires a lot of responsibility (for yourself and others) and accountability something that not everyone can manage or want to aim for. However, that doesn’t mean that people who are currently not cut out to be an entrepreneur and want to be, shouldn’t try. If you’re willing to learn and put in the effort, or currently hold the title and are looking to improve, a good way to do so is by knowing what not to do.
Here are several habits that while can seem helpful at first, can hurt your entrepreneurial spirit in the long run, which is where it matters.
Working smarter and not harder is something that should be ingrained in our day to day life, particularly when it comes to running your own business, as there’s just so many tasks to do. And knowing what we now know about multitasking, it actually leads us to working harder.
In the short term, multitasking can be effective when combined with the adrenaline of starting your own business and anxiously trying to keep up with everything. However, once the dust settles, fatigue and burnout will inevitably follow. In dividing your attention between tasks, it can take longer to finish them, as opposed to prioritising tasks and giving each one the attention it deserves. This will also improve the quality of the work, and avoid things like typos in documents, sending an important email to the wrong person, making your coworkers feel like they don’t have your attention, and creating grave errors in judgement because you’re focusing on other things. Making a habit of dealing with quick tasks can also lead to procrastination when faced with big undertakings that are meant to make your business grow.
All these things can start to affect your personal life too, such as your family not feeling present with you because you’re used to doing many things at once and find it hard to separate work from family life. Work / life balance is something many entrepreneurs struggle to find, and in avoiding something as normalised and seemingly innocent as multitasking, you can save yourself a whole lot of trouble.
Doing business with friends
In business there’s a general rule: don’t mix money and friendship. Money is the biggest cause for fights in marriages and can be just as big of a deal in business, so if your work wife / husband, customer or client is a friend, that could cause a stressful and dramatic shift in your relationship. If you and you friend still want to pursue, it would be helpful to identify some ground rules to avoid future issues.
Lack of focus
Some key traits in entrepreneurs include being focused and driven, which is why it’s not surprising that a lack thereof can be a bit of a problem. As discussed, this can be a result of multitasking and lead to procrastination of essential work and countless tasks being left unfinished. Remembering why you became / are becoming an entrepreneur in the first place and focusing on current objectives is essential. Disciplining yourself will help you with being an entrepreneur, so if this is what you want, it’s up to you to figure out what’s getting in the way and overcome it.
A huge part of building a business is having a reliable network. But when you’re known for being a shady, unreliable entrepreneur, no one will be interested in supporting you. Embellishing facts, lying about a business’s success and setting other bad habits will not do you any favours because people will see right through it. After all, if you convince them, you’ll have to keep your act up, and how long will that last? Is that effort, topped up with all the other things you need to do, really worth it? At the end of the day, it’s better to be honest, because chances are, your client, customer or co-worker will be able to relate. Plus, if your ambitions are sincere and beneficial to others, all you have to do is make them believe in your vision and they may follow suit.
Another candid quality an entrepreneur should have is taking ownership for mistakes, instead of making excuses for things that are in their control. Who’s that going to serve anyway? Holding yourself accountable will set a good example and ultimately lead you and your team to gain knowledge on what not to do and therefore help grow a successful business.