Working at The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center for the past 18 years has offered me the opportunity to work with a lot of small business owners. Over that time I have seen many businesses start, and then close. So I thought in today’s blog post I could steal a line from author Stephen Covey, but instead of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I will call my post, 7 Habits of Unsuccessful Entrepreneurs.
1. Lack of planning – Many unsuccessful entrepreneurs run into problems that could easily have been avoided had they taken the time before they started to write a business plan. If you don’t have the dedication to write a business plan, then you probably don’t have the dedication to run your own business.
2. Not enough capital ($$) – My guess is that 3 out of 4 businesses fail because they run out of cash. This goes back to poor initial planning most of the time, but also because business owners get so caught up in running the day-to-day operation of the business they don’t take the time to send out bills to clients. Monitoring your cash flow is the most important thing you can do in your business.
3. Poor organization skills – In order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be a highly organized person. You can’t pull off being a Jack or Jill of all trades without having the ability to prioritize important tasks. Many times small business owners get caught up doing menial tasks instead of focusing on doing what makes them money.
4. Micro-Management – Even the best entrepreneurs can’t do it all. At some point you need to put some trust in your employees. If you hired good people and trained them correctly, then take the training wheels off and let them go. Sometimes they will surprise you! If the employee can’t do the task you need them to do, they may need additional training or you may need to look for another employee.
5. Not knowing when to outsource – As stated earlier, running a business is a lot of work, and the entrepreneur needs to focus on the one thing that they are best at, and which makes them money. Put a dollar amount on your time. If you find you are spending more time doing your bookkeeping then it costs to hire someone to do it, outsource that task to someone else.
6. Unwilling to change – Times change, it’s a fact of life. At times your business needs to change to keep up. Just because that’s how you always did things, doesn’t mean that you can continue to do business that way. I think about the many businesses I have seen in the past whose only form of advertising was an ad in the phone book. Do they still even print phone books? Keep up with the times before your business becomes extinct.
7. Waiting too long to ask for help – Over the years I can’t believe how many small businesses have come to the SBDC after they had already dug themselves in such a hole they don’t know where else to turn. Don’t let your pride get in the way. If your business is having problems don’t be afraid to seek help.
For additional information on how to make your small business successful, contact The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center at (570) 941-7588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith D. Yurgosky
Manager of Internet Business
University of Scranton SBDC