Everyone has their own bad tendencies, but there are some that tend to plague entrepreneurs more often than not.
When I first started my current company, Amerisleep, I was eager to get involved in every aspect of manufacturing, logistics, marketing, customer service, finance, and so forth. Over time, that became extremely taxing as responsibilities within each department grew.
I've since realized that it's impractical for me to oversee each duty within the company. Instead, the only way to scale the business has been to hire, train and develop managers so my co-founders and I can delegate.
It's tempting to interact with every customer that phones in to get their direct and honest feedback -- but that's why we have a team of customer service experts who are better equipped than I am to deliver outstanding service. Instead of spending most of my time on one-to-one interactions, I can focus on high-level strategies and research to grow our company.
That's probably more important.
When the future of your company and your employees is on the line, you need to understand which of your habits facilitate growth and which hinder it. Here are three bad habits many entrepreneurs share, along with my advice on how to break them:
1. Not delegating
When the company is born out of your personal vision, you often feel like you have to be acutely involved in every decision. Otherwise, how can you guarantee everything is being executed exactly as you intended?
It won't take long for resentment over micromanaging to build up among your employees. Ultimately, they'll probably start leaving the company.
Train yourself to recognize the times you should delegate, and the times you should step in. Ask yourself: Is the outcome of this situation critical to the success of the company?
If so, then you should be present and make the ultimate decision. This includes major cash decisions, hiring (especially early on), and large-scale strategic decisions.
When it comes to anything else, you're better off putting your trust in the people you've hired, and letting them make decisions on their own.
2. Ignoring your cash flow metrics
It's not a surprise that many entrepreneurs aren't finance experts. We're usually comfortable leaving all financial responsibility to the CFO while we immerse ourselves in product development or marketing.
If you want to survive long enough to grow into a major company, you have to keep a close watch on your cash situation at all times. Regularly review cash inflows and outflows. Understand every detail so that you will be informed when you have to make tough decisions.
Poor cash management is the second-most common reason for startup failures, only behind a lack of market need. Don't let that mistake sink your business.
3. Making reactive decisions
Reaction is probably one our most natural habits. After all, our biological processes tell us to react to stimuli.
You can't survive running a company for long by being reactive. You have to create plans for problems that haven't happened yet, and think far enough down the road to be ready for any opportunities that may arise.
Proactivity is something you have to practice. Put a system in place early so that it quickly becomes routine. Build time into your schedule for long-term strategic thinking, and keep careful notes for the future. For instance, you can host monthly brainstorming sessions and you can maintain a running list of ideas in which every member of your team can contribute their thoughts. Invest in ongoing research and development too so that you can produce new products and services your customers may want before they even ask.