Many businesses fail in the first few years of inception because for entrepreneurs, it’s easy to encounter pitfalls despite being focused and strategic.
Here are six patterns you should avoid in order to achieve long-term success in your venture:
1. Hiring people that are similar to you
Sometimes the most talented candidate may not be the right fit for a job. In other words, a team full of Tom Bradys would lose every game. In order to forge success, you need to prioritize hiring people that are smarter, better and different than you.
If you’re sitting in a meeting and everyone thinks, acts and behaves the same way, the business will likely suffer. Diversity of thought, experience and background is what sets top-performing teams apart from the pack. Investing in diverse people and talent should be at the top of your priority list as a young entrepreneur. The teams you build will ultimately determine the trajectory of your company.
2. Resisting change
Whether you’re faced with it personally or professionally, change is ubiquitous. The tired adage “Change is the only constant” holds true in business. Change can be particularly difficult when you’re the leader of a company and the business has been running smoothly for quite some time.
To take your business to the next level and experience real long-term growth, you not only have to accept change, but you also need to embrace it. How can you use new technologies to expand into new markets? Are there any roles or positions at your company that are no longer needed? How much are you investing in research and development versus existing lines of business? As an entrepreneur, these are the questions you need to be asking yourself.
3. Avoiding risk
As entrepreneurs, it’s our responsibility to assure investors, clients and staff that there’s little risk involved should they choose to partner with us. While it’s important to mitigate risk in most scenarios, it shouldn’t necessarily be avoided at all costs. Take calculated risk. Nothing great ever occurred without sizable, associated risk. Put simply, entrepreneurs take risks; it’s in our nature. Be honest with yourself about the worst thing that can happen, accept it, then jump.
4. Forgetting to invest in yourself
Often times, owners and CEOs inadvertently neglect themselves while attempting to pave success for their company. We stop focusing on how our own skills are developing. It’s easy to overlook this when you’re a young entrepreneur, or even a seasoned leader. This can be particularly challenging if you subscribe to servant leadership, a leadership philosophy whereby the leader exists to serve the people rather than the people working to serve the leader.
Block off time each month to reflect on your own professional development. Remain open to feedback from your peers and direct reports. Self-improvement doesn’t simply stop because you’re a CEO or founder.
5. Mediocre goal-setting
Conventional wisdom tells us to set “reasonable” goals. But what does that really mean? Sure, we should remain realistic, but far too often I see entrepreneurs underselling themselves and their businesses. I believe that if you set goals high enough, even “failures” can be considered business wins.
For instance, let’s say you set a goal of growing your business by 200% in a given year, essentially tripling in size. However, at the end of that year, you ultimately fall short of this goal, and instead grow by 100% (doubling in size). Technically, you failed. But broadly speaking, growing twofold is a remarkable feat, and one that will be celebrated by employees, clients and investors.
Don’t fear failure; it can actually help your business. Remain realistic, but set your goals high and consistently push the boundaries. Underselling yourself will only leave your teams unmotivated and harm your company’s productivity levels.
6. Believing you have to know it all
As a young entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel like you always need to have an answer. The reality is you simply won’t sometimes. Great leaders surround themselves with diverse talent to help problem solve and tackle unique business needs as they arise. You can’t be the expert in all things, at all times.
As an entrepreneur, the most important question you can ask your team is, “What’s your recommendation?” And then follow up with, “How can I help?” Ask your team members for their thoughts on what the best solution is instead of rigidly delegating. This leadership technique not only enables you to come up with creative problem-solving ideas, but also helps establish a strong sense of collaboration within your organization.