We’ve all heard the idea that, “Attitude is everything.” But, what is the right and the wrong attitude when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur? History can attest to the fact that some of the biggest entrepreneurial names had some of the biggest egos and were the hardest people to work with. But sometimes all that hubris can get in the way and can quickly stump the growth of even the most promising new business.
1. When fundraising becomes the goal. There’s a lot of attention placed in the media on start up investment, for tech companies in particular. The world of venture capitalists and angel investors has become glamorous and sexy, backed by a roster of larger then life high rollers, such as Mark Cuban. The result is that many new companies put too much time into signing up investors and not enough on their business model. Now, don’t get me wrong; one of your jobs as a business owner is to keep the cash flowing, and one way to do that is certainly by fundraising—but don’t lose sight of what your business is really trying to do. Don’t forget to focus on having a functional and well-researched business model that you can show to investors when the time comes. Fundraising is a means to an end, not the end itself.
2. Not handling set backs well. Starting a new business is full of pitfalls and roadblocks that can easily set you back. Success as an entrepreneur often is dependent on how well you can handle those moments when nothing is working out. If you give up too easily or make hasty, knee-jerk decisions without considering the long-term consequences of your actions, then your business will go nowhere. You also have to be open to criticism and know where and how to make necessary changes to your plan. If you are too stuck in your path without any openness or flexibility, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
3. Refusing to work with others. Did you every notice that there are very few start-ups with only one owner? Usually, there are two or three people. It’s like this because different people have different strengths and weaknesses. By joining forces, there are fewer weak spots. Another aspect of working with others is being able to effectively delegate tasks. We all know that small business owners “wear many hats,” but there is a limit to how far this can go. Many new business owners will stifle growth simply because they refuse to bring others in, they are therefore limited by their own capabilities.
4. Growing too big too quickly. Another pitfall among new small business owners is the desire to be as big as their competition… but right away. It’s some kind of Napoleon complex, world domination thing, and it can very easily derail a business. Always keep scalability in mind; you want your business to be able to grow, but you want that growth to be about natural necessity, not ego.
5. Refusing to let a dead dog die. Nobody wants to be wrong, and being an entrepreneur sometimes takes superhuman tenacity; but the longer you hold onto a failing idea, the less capital and time you’ll have to invest into your next great thing. Never be afraid to admit that your initial plan, proposal, or ideas were wrong, because once you do, you can easily adapt and shift your business to what works. Let what is going to die, die, and focus only on those things that have the potential to thrive.
Susan Brown is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business and personal finance.