As an entrepreneur, your business is your baby, but as a parent you could find you’re being a touch overprotective.
Have you noticed some of these nine no-good habits creeping into your day-to-day practices?
Here is some advice from entrepreneurs who have found themselves in the same boat as you, and managed to turn things around:
Bad Habit No.9
Studies have revealed that your IQ level drops by 10% when attempting to multitask and productivity drops by 40%.
In fact, we should call multitasking, switch-tasking since you aren’t simultaneously completing two projects at once; you’re simply dividing your attention between them without allowing your brain to focus fully on one task at a time.
Trying to complete too many tasks at the same time can also reduce the quality of your final product. As an entrepreneur and the driving force behind your business, you don’t want to lower the quality of the products going out the door because you’re trying to do too much at the same time, or you think this process helps to increase your productivity.
“No one can be (switched) on 24/7, and the trouble today is that with Internet access and smart devices, we’re all reachable anywhere, receiving a constant stream of information we feel compelled to reply to.
Leaders tend to want more and more, but good managers should encourage their teams to take time off to recharge, and to encourage daily down time by making a habit of going offline,” say co-founders Melody Tomlinson and Diane Collier from the Performance Booster Programme.
“There’s also a multitude of studies proving that being ‘always-on’ negatively impacts your ability to be effective, and that downtime leads to higher productivity.”
Bad Habit No. 8
Failing to delegate tasks
To create a successful business, you need to be able to work independently as well as part of a team. But, if every project is causing a bottleneck when it hits your desk, then it could be a sign that it’s time to loosen the reigns a bit. Your workplace can be a harmonious environment if you include your team and share in the responsibilities of new projects.
It’s understandable that you’re nervous about giving someone else some control, but you can’t be everywhere and you can’t do everything. The sooner you allow your team to grow in responsibility and knowledge, the faster amazing results will start coming in your door. Your employees want to help you make your business great, which leaves you time to focus on the bigger picture and the strategy forward.
“One of the most important things I have learnt is to let other people in your organisation take the lead,” says social entrepreneur and co-founder of DreamGirls, Ezlyn Barends. “That has been an important realisation for me as I am involved in many initiatives, which makes time a precious resource.”
Bad Habit No. 7
Not making decisions
When faced with a sudden expansion of their business, the executives at Jones Lang Lasalle had to quickly find space to accommodate the new team. They took the opportunity to revolutionise how they worked by opting for an activity-based work environment.
“We chose The Firs in Rosebank because we wanted a pedestrianised, first-world location where our people can pop out for lunch or go for a walk whenever they choose. Because the move presented us with an opportunity to do something avant-garde, we decided to create a space that would double as a showroom for clients (which they love). We are living the offering that we’re proposing to clients and testing it in our own business,” explains Craig Hean, MD of JLL.
Bad Habit No. 6
Allowing interruptions to happen
The New York Times reported that the USA losses an estimated USD650 billion in productivity, due to constant staff interruptions.
Can your business really afford to lose on both productivity and money because your team is being unnecessarily interrupted throughout the day?
If you’re finding yourself in situations where you seem to just have too much to do and not enough time to do it in, then start noting down how this is happening in your day and for how long before you get back to the task at hand. If this is happening to you, it’s probably happening to everyone, and your company needs to set up rules about unnecessary interruptions.
When Z Capital, an investment and management consultancy group, started out, co-founder Amanda Cuba soon realised that she needed to focus on the strategy of her business, but prioritising planning over building a business seemed to be impossible.
“In the beginning, I was involved on a tactical level, and strategy came second. Then my coach advised me to set aside time for strategy unless I wanted the business to fail, even if that meant putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on my door,” explains Amanda Cuba co-founder of Z Capital.
Bad Habit No. 5
Doing everything on the fly
Being the go-to-person in your company can only take you so far. If there are vital aspects of your operation that can’t function without you, you could be setting your business up to fail. There have been cases where entrepreneurs have tried to sell their business, but because the entrepreneur is the business they were unable to.
It’s healthy to play a central role in your business, but you need to be able to step away from your business, and not lose sleep over projects that are not going to plan. Implementing systems and processes within your business can help you to create consistency throughout, which brings everyone on the same page a lot faster.
Founder, Yacoob Carr from Munaaz Catering Equipment realised early on that having systems and processes were so essential to a business that he created a business that offers creative chefs a framework to work with.
“We love what we do because we provide the magic that makes everything happen behind the scenes. We give celebrity chefs like Luke Dale-Roberts, of The Test Kitchen fame, the tools to produce the wonderful dishes he creates. That gives me so much joy. Our clients are creators, and they inspire us. In turn, we take satisfaction from knowing that we add real value to their lives by helping them to meet their goals,” says Yacoob Carr from Munaaz Catering Equipment.
When customers choose Munaaz Catering Equipment, he explains, they purchase peace of mind, and not just a product. This is a critical factor in the hospitality industry and in the high-end food service business in particular, where consumers are fussy and have high expectations.
Bad Habit No. 4
Yes, thinking short-term can help you out of a tough situation, but there’s a time and a place for everything. If your business is surviving with tactics your team is developing from one month to the next, you may find it almost impossible to scale your business and hold on to customers when you’re not cultivating repeat business.
It may seem like your company is doing well but you need to shift gears and plan for the long game if you want to scale and retain clients. Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane from ShowLove created a unique business that thrives on solid relationships that he cultivated long-term.
“I’ve stopped taking on one-off jobs. I think it’s better to create a long-term relationship with a client. When considering a new job, you have to ask if the job is worth your time. Is it big enough, or will it only be diverting you from jobs that are potentially more lucrative?
Getting repeat work is not about being the cheapest, but about being the best. If you can show that you really add value, clients will be more than willing to pay, explains Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane from ShowLove.
Bad Habit No. 3
Taking unnecessary risks
Starting your own business can be risky; you took a big risk from the word go when you started your business. But there’s a difference between taking calculated risks with the potential for reward, and unnecessary risks caused by poor systems and processes and ‘unforeseen’ circumstances.
The digital landscape, for example, allows you to connect with more of your customers than ever before, but it also leaves you open to PR nightmares. There are numerous channels of communication available that you will need to somehow manage, or risk damaging your company’s image.
“Scenario planning and risk management is incredibly important,” says Magna Carta CEO Vincent Magwenya.
“You need to have some sort of strategy in place for the day when you find yourself at the centre of a social media debacle. An online catastrophe arrives quickly and unexpectedly, and managing it effectively can be tough. The last thing you want to do is to lash out like a snake trapped in a corner, behaving counter-productively and fanning the flames, so you want a strategy in place that will take emotional responses out of the equation.”
Bad Habit No. 2
You chose your team for their knowledge, expertise and experience; by not listening to what they have to say you’re only making more work for yourself.
As the creator of the business, some entrepreneurs feel the onus is on them to come up with all the ideas and strategies. But this isn’t true; your team are a part of your business because they want to help you achieve success.
Otherwise, it’s as if you have a great rugby team, but all your players are sitting on the bench and you’re the only one on the field. How can you succeed like that? The only trick is, hiring a great team to begin with, so you can feel comfortable collaborating with your staff.
“People go to work to fulfil what’s most important to them. Because of this, you need to ask yourself two questions when hiring an employee: Does the prospective employee’s vision align with the company’s, and will their daily tasks inspire them.
You need to find out what a person’s values are. If a job in no way aligns with what a person is already dedicated to, the fit won’t be ideal and the work will suffer,” explains Dr John Demartini of The Demartini Institute.
Bad Habit No. 1
Taking on too much without direction
The benefit of adopting a Lean Start-up methodology is that it provides a start-up the opportunity to find its niche and become the best at delivering its product or service. Your business could find itself in trouble if you are trying to be in every part of your value chain and offer your customer everything they could ever need.
At some point you will find your business is just stretched too thin and can’t maintain competitiveness operating in so many different, diversified spaces. This is when you need to decide to pull the reigns back, and figure out exactly what you want to do with your business and where you want your business to go.
To make your start-up a success you need to find your niche and you need to launch into that niche with everything your business has. You need to own that niche and everything there is to do with it, become the best at what you do, even if you only offer one product.
“Smaller operations can remain competitive even when behemoths invade their market. Despite the presence of Apple Music, Indie Shuffle has remained relevant by offering niche content that’s carefully curated, and by staying at the forefront of technology. It might depend on tastemakers rather than algorithms for curation, but it fully realises the importance of technological innovation,” explains Jason Grishkoff of Indie Shuffle.