We have all most likely succumbed to a bad habit at some point in our lives. Some are merely annoying, while others can be downright hurtful, to ourselves and others. Let’s first look at the definition of a habit:
habit [hab-it] noun
an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary
In some cases, bad habits may come to you so naturally, that you don’t even see anything wrong with them. In other cases, you may know you shouldn’t be doing something, but it’s easier to keep your bad habit than change it. Business bad habits tend to fall in the latter category, because changing habits is hard work, and entrepreneurs often lack the time and energy to put the effort into changing the bad habit. Today we’re going to talk about 5 prevalent bad habits that small business owners tend to have. If you recognize yourself in any of these, we encourage you to take the time and effort to change them before they affect your business.
- Lack of focus. Small business owners who are struggling to succeed in the fiercely competitive economic environment we are living today will sometimes try to take their business in too many directions. They will try to be everything to everyone. This is a big mistake, however, because small businesses usually lack the resources and capital to successfully be “everything to everyone”. The unintentional result is typically failing at most of what they are doing. A better strategy is to pick one or two things, and focus on doing them extremely well. Be the expert in your industry!
- Spread too thin. Another bad habit many small business owners make is trying to do too many things. Similar to lack of focus, trying to do too many things, or spreading yourself too thin, can often mean that you don’t do anything really well. A good way to break this habit is to make the effort to delegate. Delegating makes some small business owners feel a loss of control, so the key is find people you trust to delegate activities to. Remember, if your business is going to grow, there is no way you can do everything!
- No back-up plan. A study by Carbonite found that 57 percent of small businesses have no plan in place for dealing with a data disaster. Wow! Risking the loss of business data can bring even small or medium size companies down. Don’t be a victim of this bad habit – create a plan to back up your data regularly, make sure you have policies in regards to your company data (and make sure all your employees understand them), and have tools or software that monitors and protects your network.
- Short-sighted thinking. It’s really easy to get caught up in the day to day activities of your small business. The title many small business owners should have is “Firefighter”, because we seem to spend a lot of time fighting fires in our small business! However, not having a long term strategic plan can mean failure for any business. As we’ve discussed before, a strategic plan is like a roadmap. If you’re navigating uncharted territory (the future), how will you know where you’re going without a map? We recommend setting a strategic plan for your business yearly, and regularly review your progress and your goals. The plan may need tweaking now and then, which is okay. One of the keys to business success is to have a strategic plan!
- Being unorganized. At an individual level, being unorganized can be annoying, and also hurt your productivity. At an organizational or business level, it means your business is not scalable. Why? Because your small business is not scalable without documented systems and procedures. Having operations manuals and employee handbooks ensures that everyone is on the same page, and that your business is providing consistent products and services to your customers.
Just like any bad habit, breaking bad business habits takes time. It may take weeks to break your habits, but taking action is the first step in ensuring your bad habits don’t affect your business success!