None of us is going to win the I'm-Perfect Award any time soon. But we can at least try to prune away some of our faults. To give you a little direction, I asked leading CEOs what bad habits they think are the most critical to ditch.

1. Not asking for help

"[When the same tactics are no longer creating results, you can be standing too close to the situation to see what you need to do differently. If you let your pride stand in the way, you're putting the business in jeopardy [...].

"Before you need help, create a circle of advisors who can provide you with advice when you need it. They may or may not come from your same industry. Sometimes people outside of your industry will have a totally different or fresh perspective."

--Patrice Rice, CEO of Patrice & Associates

2. Putting money first over learning

"By choosing to focus on making money as your top priority, you may miss out on an opportunity to challenge yourself in a unique way or work in an environment where you are given more responsibility early on in your career.

"If you [invest] the lion's share of the first part of your career in learning, you'll have a significant amount of earning potential in your tool box by the time you reach your 40s, which is typically when people start to earn higher levels of compensation.  Your career decisions over the next two to three decades can then be shifted to focus on earning, then learning and giving. Then, once you are nearing the twilight of your career, you can pay it forward by shifting your priorities to giving, then learning and earning."

--Mark Davis, CEO of PuroClean

3. Standing too close to a project

"I always say you can't be working on your business if you're constantly working in your business. You need to take time to step back from a project to see it more clearly, understand what the data is showing and know wholeheartedly the health status. Sometimes this means you need to hire someone besides yourself!

"Owners who succeed fall in love with their customers' needs, not what they're selling. The customer is always changing, and the product won't change unless you change it. That focus and drive will allow companies to make changes necessary to keep their customers and gain more."

--Eric Casaburi, CEO of Retro Fitness

4. Being too hard on yourself

"Sometimes people like to give advice with the best intentions in mind, and although those opinions should always be considered, in the end you have to follow your gut instinct. If you have a goal in mind and you feel confident with the path you're taking to get there, stay true to yourself and hold yourself accountable to the decisions and choices you've made.

"If somebody criticizes you, always step back, take a breath and think it through; take 24 hours to process their advice prior to responding or making a decision."

--Jennifer Lemke, COO of Weed Man USA

5. Cutting corners

"Entrepreneurs assume that they can increase profits if they produce in mass quantities or speed up the process by eliminating a key ingredient or function. [...But great] things take time and consistency and cutting corners puts your business in jeopardy by promoting sloppiness.

"Place your priority on the customers' needs, not on how to save yourself time or money. This keeps you focused on making sure you're taking every measure possible to deliver a consistent and high quality product. Customers appreciate transparency and their brand loyalty increases when they see your company's dedication to the thorough process needed to deliver the best product for them."

--Mike Ferreti, CEO of Great Harvest Bread Co.

6. Not giving back

"It's important that we are all connected to one another through our local communities. The old saying 'It takes a village to raise a child' is more true today than ever.

"[At Pet Supplies Plus, we've] developed tools that allow our operators to quickly and easily execute local events. It starts with having a robust event calendar that ensures you commit to some pre-planning every month within your local community.  Then our robust marketing tools allow our teams to connect with their neighbors and spread the word about the local shelter or organization they are helping and how they can get involved."

--Chris Rowland, CEO of Pet Supplies Plus

7. Making a decision without researching first

"If you don't know what you're getting yourself into, you're setting yourself up for failure. No business decision should be made before knowing everything there is to know about the business or specific situation.

"[The fix] is simple--research. Talk with the people who are closest to the business. [...] After you speak with people who are where you want to be 1, 2, 3 years out, speak with prospective customers. [...] Go to the marketplace and listen to what your potential clients are telling you.  Don't rely on information from only the seller--it will be tilted in their favor."

--Nick Neonakis, CEO of The Franchise Consulting Company

8. Trying to blend in

"By definition, business owners and entrepreneurs are calculated risk takers. The habit of second-guessing oneself and playing it safe, [thinking] 'If it is such a good idea, how come everyone else isn't doing it?', is a dangerous and frankly destructive habit that eats away at our confidence and self-esteem.

"Do some research, go with your gut. Don't you dare make a decision by committee and let your freak flag fly!"

--Michael Haith, CEO of Teriyaki Madness

Habits are tough to break, but no habit is stronger than you are. Commit to change, make a plan and then go after what you want.

Published on: Jan 17, 2018