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Why Small Business Owners Are Their Own Worst Enemy

“We have met the enemy… and he is us”- Pogo

The biggest obstacle to success for most small business owners comes from inside their company: It’s actually themselves! Here are the top ten ways they sabotage their company and what they can do to stop it:

  1. They think they can do it all themselves. They don’t ask for help when they need it. They believe that asking would be a sign of weakness. They think that small business ownership is a solo sport. They are the biggest “I” in the word “team.” Solution: A real company has leverage because it is not all about the owner. Find employees that can run parts of the business with the owner. Get a mentor that can give an outside perspective.
  2. They hire people that are not as good as them. They let their ego get in the way so they can control every situation. They think it is easier to “boss people around” that have less skills. Solution: Hire people whose skills are complementary to the small business owner.
  3. They don’t hire attitude. They are in a rush to hire anyone to fill a job. They only ask questions about rudimentary skills and limited past experience in the interview process. They never discuss their career goals or how they fit into the company. Solution: Skills can be taught, but attitude and how a person fits into a company culture can’t. Always hire for attitude first.
  4. They allow lousy employees to overstay their welcome. They don’t fire employees, even though everyone knows they are doing a bad job and hurting the company. They can’t admit they made a mistake, for fear of the repercussions if they actually let them go. Solution: Be quick to fire. Every manager knows within 30 days if an employee will be successful. Don’t delay the inevitable. Fire them and admit a mistake was made.
  5. They don’t plan for their cash flow. They never review their financial statement or ask for help to understand what they mean for their business. As a result, they make all business decisions blindly. This leads to borrowing and spending money based on expected results, which gets them into more debt. Solution: Get help in reading financial statements and the best use of any outstanding loans. At the very least, open the bank statements to see if the business has more or less cash at the end of the month.
  6. They let today’s emergencies dictate their plan. They start each day by checking Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Their daily plan falls apart 15 minutes after arriving at the office. They are addicted to multitasking and constantly let themselves be interrupted by people and global electronic notifications. Solution: The night before, write down the two critical items that must get done the next day. Then focus on those the first hour tomorrow before checking anything else.
  7. They keep calling prospects that don’t respond. They keep reaching out to big customer opportunities that never reply. They hold onto the idea that they may still be interested if they bug them enough. This prevents them from talking to other prospects that may be truly interested. Solution: Contact them three times, let go and put them back in the marketing funnel if they are interested at a later time.
  8. They stop marketing as soon as their revenue increases. They only market when they have no revenue, but as soon as they get customers again, they stop marketing (the exact thing that got them sales in the first place!) Solution: Create a simple systematic content marketing plan that will constantly be educating prospects so they will think of the company when they are ready to buy.
  9. They go on social media without a strategy. They think they don’t need a strategy. They become more interested in gossip than helping business prospects. They think the sole purpose of social media is to promote their products. Solution: Find out where customers talk about their needs on social media. Stop trying to sell and instead, just add value only to those conversations.
  10. They take big risks instead of calculated actions. They think success is about taking gigantic risks, so they waste their resources by jumping in without first testing the water. They take courses of action that satisfy their ego, but don’t help their business. Solution: Small business success is really about taking small calculated steps, understanding the results and then taking another action to get a repeat chance at success.

How do you sabotage yourself in your business?

Barry Moltz

Barry Moltz

Contributor at Fundera
With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures, Barry has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners out of their funk and marching forward. He has founded and run small businesses with a great deal of success and failure for more than 15 years. He is the author of three small business books.
Barry Moltz