By Jared Weitz, founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.
Entrepreneurs are often associated with atypical behaviors and ideas. Many of us do not know how to stop working or to care for the simple pleasures enjoyed by most other people. But despite their exteriors, entrepreneurs are only human. The proof lies in the average entrepreneur's inability to overcome certain "human" traits. In my experience, one particularly prevalent example is a difficulty breaking habits. Entrepreneurs struggle just as much as regular people when it comes to abandoning their natural habits in exchange for what is undeniably better for their companies.
I believe that breaking a number of fairly common entrepreneurial habits is necessary for success. As the CEO of a business financing firm, I've found that the business leaders who refuse to evolve are more likely to see their businesses experience the same fate. Here are three widespread entrepreneurial habits that are hard to break:
1. Excessive Frugality
Leaders of new businesses are frequently advised to spend their money very carefully, and rightfully so. They have limited funds, and spending too much money without a proportionate revenue foundation has driven countless businesses into the ground. But being excessively careful about spending can be dangerous if the entrepreneur doesn't recognize the need to spend more as the company grows. Eventually, the company will require additional resources in order to tackle a heavier workload and evoke a more professional image.
I've worked with a great many small-business owners who only hired when it was absolutely necessary. They were so concerned about wasting money on unsatisfactory recruits that instead of hiring, they would put more work on their current employees and ended up impeding their progress. It's my team's job to show these companies that increasing staff is one of several significant expenses that sometimes cannot be postponed, even if additional business funding is required to afford them.
2. Taking Care of Everything Yourself
It's safe to say that the majority of the entrepreneurial community was born out of the concept of: "If you want something done right, do it yourself." Many entrepreneurs start their own businesses because they didn't like the way their former superiors did things. They have a difficult time trusting other people with important tasks and are therefore comfortable handling multiple elements of their businesses on their own. This only works until the CEO's workload increases to a point where he or she is clearly too stressed to give each element the attention it deserves.
I can attest that this habit is hard to break because I've met numerous entrepreneurs that saw no issue with being in charge of customer service, business development or human resources on top of their regular day-to-day responsibilities. Before committing to a financing partnership, I made sure that these business leaders understood that they needed to either hire experienced specialists or promote high-level employees. Sooner or later, I told them, they would burn themselves out.
3. Expecting Employees to Mimic Your Work Ethic
When you are naturally good at something, you don't feel like you have a talent. You are merely using the tools you were born with. Many entrepreneurs have a similar view of their work ethic. They don't have to struggle to work exceptionally hard, which gives them the impression that other people should be able to do the same. This usually leads to disappointment. Entrepreneurs might expect their top employees to work just as hard as they do, only to discover they have instead chosen to relax at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday.
As frustrating as situations like this can be, entrepreneurs must not make the mistake of taking their employees' work ethic personally. If your employees aren't responding to your emails over the weekend, it's not because they don't care about the company. It's because they are a different kind of person than you, and that will most likely never change no matter how tough you are on them.
Change Yourself, Change Your Company
The key to eliminating these habits is accepting that you must grow along with your company. Growth can be uncomfortable, but it's nowhere near as hazardous as ignoring blatant threats to your company's success. Until you become a better version of yourself, your employees will not reach their full potential.
Jared Weitz is founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.