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Bad Habits for Small Business Owners to Overcome

We’re all prone to have some bad habits in our personal lives, and regardless of how much our family and friends may cringe at them, we shouldn’t allow them to have an impact on us at the office.

However, some new small-business owners may find their bad habits have seeped into their workplace. When this happens it’s not friends and family that are affected, it’s our employees and clients that are subject to them. This can lead to headaches and, unfortunately, may result in loss of business.

Here’s a look at some of the most common bad habits small business owners may find themselves struggling with, and some advice on how to overcome them from writers and experts.

1. Being Careless With Data

In the age of identity theft and hacking mischief, it’s important for any small business to ensure that its sensitive information is secure. Rieva Lesonsky explores this in a story for American Express’ Open Forum. She cites a 2013 survey that shows 69 percent of small business owners are “unaware or don’t believe their companies experience a financial impact if their data is lost or stolen.” The survey also reports that 40 percent don’t have any security safeguards in place, and 33 percent don’t require staff training on information security.

“This isn’t just a bad habit — it’s a dangerous one,” Lesonsky writes. “All businesses need to regularly back up their data, create policies for employee use of social media and the Internet, and install software to monitor and protect their networks.”

2. Ignoring Market Analysis

Small business owners must take the time and energy to truly understand the market, especially during the initial planning stages of getting the business off the ground. This includes knowing the competition and how a new business fits into the marketplace, David S. Bunton writes for The Huffington Post.

Bad Habits for Small Business Owners to Overcome
“Without that basic understanding, a contemplated growth strategy may not coincide with what’s best for the long-term value of the company,” he explains. “There are several notable high-profile examples of small companies that chose to expand too rapidly after encountering initial success. While opening more storefronts can be a positive development, it also stretches the business and creates burdensome overhead costs.”

3. Lacking Strong Relationships

Employees naturally want to believe in and trust their bosses. Small business owners should find the time to interact with their employees in a meaningful and productive way to get the most loyalty and productivity out of them. Failure of doing so could lead to poor employee retention, as Thomas Von Ahn explains in a story on LinkedIn.

“Spending time working closely with employees should result in quality relationship building, but many business owners are so fixated on productivity and making money that they fail to get to know their employees,” he writes. “Because this can come across as though they don’t care about their employees as people, it can have disastrous results when it comes to retaining good workers.”

4. Faulty Expectations

Having an optimistic outlook on a small business’ future can be beneficial for both the owner and his or her employees. However, it’s important that these thoughts and ideas are realistic. Rohit Arora discusses the problems with getting carried away with grand expectations in a story for Fox Business.

“Will your new coffee shop put Starbucks out of business? Probably not,” Arora writes. “It is foolish to believe your company can be the market leader overnight. There is only so much that advertising and PR can do. Word of mouth takes time to build. People may need to hear about your product or service a few times before they will consider taking advantage of your offer. The old saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ certainly applies. Very few companies experience overnight success, and many that do are fads. Plan for sustained growth by providing good value.”

5. Missed Web Opportunities

Every small business should have a Web presence, but a simple site with little information isn’t always enough. Entrepreneurs should take advantage of blogging opportunities to promote the business and its industry. Blogging can help businesses present themselves in the marketplace as thought leaders, and it can go a long way in bringing in more Web traffic that can potentially lead to more business, as Lesonsky writes.

“If it seems like just too much work to put a blog on your site, consider this: Adding fresh original content to your site—several times a week is ideal—will help you rise organically in search engine rankings. And Internet marketing company Hubspot reports businesses that blog as little as one or two times a monthgenerate 70 percent more leads than companies that don’t have a blog. … Stressed about what to write? Think about what customers want from you: tips, inside info and news.”

6. Poor Rewards System

No matter the profession, employees want to know that the work they’re doing is valued. As Von Ahn writes in his LinkedIn story, this includes not only how but also why they are rewarded for a job well done.

“Whether it’s a seemingly small reward (such as verbal acknowledgment of a project successfully completed) or a big one (a promotion), employees want to be recognized and rewarded for doing good work — and they deserve to be,” he explains. “Playing favorites, failing to stop and recognize hard work and hiring and promoting inferior workers can hamper morale.”

7. They Don’t Help Employees Grow

Small business owners that get caught up in day-to-day tasks may not stop to consider whether their employees are making strides toward accomplishing their professional and career goals. This can hamper a business’s relationship with its employees as well as their overall morale, Von Ahn describes.

“Business owners who are not interested in giving their employees the freedom or the opportunity to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities are not just holding their employees back—they’re also limiting what’s possible for the business. Giving employees freedom, along with responsibility, helps encourage people to improve and grow, increasing the likelihood they will be happy in their work.”

8. Short-Sightedness

The pace of a small business’s development can be frantic, especially in the absence of a strong support staff. Owners may find themselves knee-deep in everyday details and tasks, limiting the opportunities for long-term brainstorming. Lesonsky explains how this can be detrimental to a business’s success in her Open Forum piece.
“As small-business owners, we’re constantly busy putting out fires, as well as having to deal with the day-to-day duties of running our businesses,” she says. “But if you don’t set aside time to sit, think and plan for your company’s future, you might not have one. Schedule some time every week, even if it’s only an hour, to review your business’ progress and your goals. And make time once a quarter (at minimum) to get out of the office for an uninterrupted, in-depth strategy session with your key people. “

9. Lack of Delegating

This can be one of the more difficult tasks for small business owners to learn. Many have the instinct or tendency to lean on their ability to succeed using strict self-reliance, which can lead to being overloaded stress. Lisa Evans writes about this in her story for Entrepreneur.com.

“‘You can’t be everything to your business,” says Walker. “Sure, you can cram in an 80-hour workweek, but you likely won’t be able to keep up that pace. Invest in the best people you can afford, delegate tasks that match their expertise and trust them to do their job. This will allow you to focus on what you do best and the company to run smoother.”

10. Causing an Info Traffic Jam

When a small business owner becomes stressed out, they have a tendency to create more problems than they solve. One example of this is for the owner to bottleneck the decision process due to their lacking ability to delegate properly. When this occurs, decisions may not get made when or how they should, causing the business to experience less-than-desirable outcomes. Walker describes this in-depth in Evans’ story.

“‘Entrepreneurs like to have control,’ says Walker, ‘but forcing every decision pass through your office can cause your business to slow down, frustrating not only your employees but your customers as well. By hiring the right people and ensuring everyone is clear on the overall goals, you’ll allow your business to thrive.’”
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