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7 Characteristics That Will Kill Your Start-up

Don't let these common short-comings destroy your shot at a successful business.
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You are creative, resourceful, visionary, driven, and probably a touch hyper. I know that because you're an entrepreneur, or at least you want to be.

These are all great and necessary qualities for an entrepreneur but there are some opposing qualities that could be detrimental to your business. Here are seven of them. How many do you show the signs of?

1. Stubbornness

Entrepreneurs become passionate about their topic and to some degree that's critical to success. However, when the passion keeps you from being flexible and open to new ideas, you may as well start ringing the death-knell for your business.

Have you ever seen Shark Tank? I know, I know, it's just television, but there's some truth in that program. Here you have five hugely successful entrepreneurs telling a newbie that their idea is not a good one, and the newbie argues back! That's the stubbornness I'm talking about. What if instead, the newbie's say, tell me how to make it work, and they actually listen? That's an opportunity of a lifetime! But many of them are too dang stubborn to consider another way.

Don't be married to your idea; think of it as a malleable object ready to grow and take shape--or change altogether! Learn to let go and to anticipate and accept change.

2. Arrogance

You know the product or service inside and out; you've been formulating it forever! You have a vision and you feel certain that you are the best person to carry it out. But if you think you know it all, you're in for a bumpy ride.

Too many entrepreneurs push away good ideas and input. Instead, talk to the people who have done it already and learn from their mistakes. And never believe that you won't make mistakes! In fact, exceptional entrepreneurs will even set out to fail. They will test products and services over and over again; going back to the drawing board to make changes and improvements each time. It's from the failures, large and small, that we learn the most.

Set the ego aside and be open to input, change, and even criticism and rejection. It's all a part of life for the entrepreneur. The game-changer is in how your respond to it and whether or not you let it stop you from moving forward.

3. Short-sightedness

Begin at the end. That's what I tell new business owners. Heck, I say that to most business owners because the majority of them don't do it. What are your long-term plans for the business? If you are launching a business just to make money and you have no idea where it's going, you simply cannot make wise decisions.

Do you want your company to go public someday? Perhaps a buyout is more ideal? Do you wish for your company to become a legacy to your children? Or, maybe you just want to ride the wave and move on to something else in a few years.

These are only a few of your options, but consider how different your decisions will be with two different scenarios in mind. If you jump on a trend and you know you're in it for only a few years, you are going to make short-term decisions; the choices that are most profitable. But if you are building for the long-term, you may have to pass up a few tempting opportunities if they don't fit into your big vision and plan.

Envision yourself sitting at 5,000 feet, looking down on your company. This bird's eye view will allow you to plan into the future, rather than staying in the present putting out fires.

4. Impatience

Recently, I visited a new restaurant. It's a charming place in a good location. The owners are first-time business owners who are, sadly, learning the hard way.

To begin with there was no soft open. They didn't experiment and practice on friends and family. Instead they chose to experiment on paying customers. The result?  Disaster.

For instance, their specialty is crepes. Yet, we were advised not to order the crepes because they would take 30 to 40 minutes to come up. What? So I ordered a $12 sandwich.  Anticipating a lunch extraordinaire I received a very ordinary, tasteless meal that would have cost me a dollar and little effort to make at home. Topping off the experience, the register went down and we were asked to wait for 20 minutes for our check!

These new business owners were too impatient. I'm sure the pressure of paying rent without an income is responsible for the much-too-soon open, but now they've lost at least one customer because of it.

Take it one step at a time. Launch a test product, do practice runs. Don't risk it all at once.

5. Procrastination

To the contrary, many entrepreneurs sit on their idea for what seems like forever! Why? Excessive perfectionism, fear of being judged, fear of failure, fear of success, lack of confidence; the list goes on and on.

Stop making excuses! Take a bite-sized piece of your idea and get it out there. Remember, it's OK if it's not quite right. This gives you the opportunity to bend it and shape it until it produces raving fans!

6. Half-heartedness

I'm willing to bet that the majority of people behind failed start-ups don't quit their day jobs. Or, that the failed mompreneur businesses have a mom at the helm who is unwilling or ill-prepared to bring in help with the kids and household responsibilities. Guess what? Running a successful business takes time, concentration, energy, and loads of patience. There are no exceptions.

If you have to keep your day job, make financial decisions that support a grand exit as soon as possible. Or, plan on a long, long haul before you meet success. And mom; you are not superwoman! Of course your children are the No. 1 priority but everyone will be miserable if you are constantly pushing them away or snapping at them because you are being pulled to your business. You need two-hour chunks of uninterrupted time to succeed; as many of them as possible. Think big, ask for help, and let go of the guilt! You will have more quality time with your kids and they will love you for it.

7. Avoidance

So you don't like conflict, do you? Perhaps you want to please everyone or you feel responsible for others. Well then, you have some work to do if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

I see it too often: entrepreneurs who don't dismiss an employee or contractor because they feel responsible for their financial future. Or, those who won't discuss an employee's professional short-comings for fear of hurting their feelings. Many entrepreneurs are afraid of implementing change because they believe it will ruffle the feathers of employees or customers. Guess what? You are not doing anyone any favors!

Understand the personality-types of your close connections and learn how to communicate with them in an effective, constructive manner. Don't avoid change. If you do you are slowing your growth and headed for failure.

Last updated: Jun 4, 2013

MARLA TABAKA

Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.




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