Every entrepreneur enters into business ownership with certain “bad habits” they’ve learned from others or that they’ve formed over time in reaction to certain situations they may have experienced. Whether they know where they came from or not, these habits can often be detrimental to their ability to succeed in entrepreneurship, and so they must be “unlearned” in order for them to move forward.
Below, nine business leaders from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss some of the bad habits they had to unlearn in order to become successful, how they went about doing so and the impact that change has had on their careers.
1. Overthinking Everything
For me, it’s overthinking! I am certain almost all entrepreneurs do it, and it’s more harmful than we think it is. For example I was thinking about the future of my company 24/7—looking at sales figures, checking every five minutes if there was a new upgrade on our website and more. This habit is harmful as it distracts you from the main tasks at hand. Your goal as an entrepreneur should be to focus on the process more than the results. Don’t overthink; instead, plan your vision and start focusing on implementing that plan. For my situation, I had to take some radical steps. I had 10 different company emails configured on my phone, so I deleted all of them and just kept one. I started focusing on processes and it worked out great. I feel far more relaxed and confident about my business now. – Vibhav Singh, XTEN-AV LLC
2. Engaging In Negative Self-Talk
I needed to unlearn negative self-talk and criticism, quieting the inner dialogue. Before I did this, I had massive imposter syndrome and felt like a fraud—like I wasn’t enough. I didn’t deserve it in some shape or form. After I did the inner work to heal these misunderstandings, my entire world transformed. My confidence shot through the roof (authentically), my voice got louder (without force) and my belief in myself went to a level I didn’t realize was possible. My success multiplied almost without effort—I became a magnet for it. Bottom line: If entrepreneurs do the inner work, their success, both internally and externally, will increase 100 fold. – Cam Kashani, Cam Kashani, Inc.
3. Doing Everything Myself
When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to do everything yourself in order to ensure that it’s done correctly. This often leads to burnout and a lack of time to focus on the important tasks that will drive your business forward. To overcome this, learn to delegate tasks to others. This helps you free up your time to focus on the most important and strategic tasks. Additionally, it can help to develop the skills of your team members, making them more valuable assets to the company. Unlearning the habit of doing everything yourself can be challenging, but it’s an important step in becoming a more successful entrepreneur. By delegating tasks, you’ll be able to increase efficiency, achieve your goals faster and build a stronger team. – Erik Knight, Knight Industries
4. Participating In Burnout Culture
As an entrepreneur, and one who has sustained an agency for over seven years, I’ve had to unlearn the culture of working until you’re exhausted and setting insane deadlines. What’s helped me mature and grow is working to create shared goals and priorities at the very start of every project and to reference those objectives when something needs time to show results. Burning out is a huge risk, especially early on in a career or business venture. Once you’ve become a leader, demonstrate how to set hours and keep them, how to learn and grow outside of work and how to diversify your experience with whatever hobby or responsibilities you’re interested in. I still think about work a lot, but I’m allowed to be more focused and delegate what I can’t do rather than burn the candle at both ends. – Kaitlyn Witman, Rainfactory
5. Stretching Myself Too Thin
Early on, I had to learn to stop stretching myself too thin. When you’re starting a new venture, it’s so easy to invest all of your time into it and control every aspect, but that’s not what takes an idea from good to great. You have to fire yourself from key roles constantly and trust your team can carry out the vision. That being said, as an entrepreneur, you are always working. When you’re not, you’re thinking about the business and how to move it forward. In this way, spending less time on day-to-day tasks is actually good for the business. When your mind is free to create and focus on the big picture, your clarity of thought will improve and your best ideas will germinate. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember the goal is to let your work do the work. – Greg Ashton, GROW
6. Multitasking Instead Of Focusing
One of the most difficult habits to break is multitasking. For a long time I treated multitasking like a badge of honor. I could listen to a podcast while working on a client account, all while Slacking with a teammate on another monitor. By cutting out multitasking and focusing 100% on a given task, you are able to work on projects more efficiently and get more done. True focus on a specific task will lead to fewer errors, increased efficiency and the ability to be more present throughout the day. – Chase Williams, Market My Market
7. Fixating On Perfectionism
Being a perfectionist can lead to procrastination and delay, as leaders are too focused on getting everything just right. Many leaders think they need to be involved in every decision and detail of their business, but that goes fully against quality hiring. We hire smart people so that they can perform their roles perfectly with their skills and effective communication. I was always skeptical about everything and whether things were happening perfectly or not. I micromanaged, and it created some really bad situations. I told myself that I needed to adapt, and thankfully, I’m a completely different leader now. I took professional help in the form of business coaching, which greatly helped me get out of that frame of mind. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
8. Procrastinating Important Tasks And Decisions
One bad habit that I had to “unlearn” was procrastination. It manifested in many ways, such as regularly putting off important tasks, not setting clear deadlines for myself or avoiding making decisions. To overcome this habit, I used strategies such as breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, setting specific deadlines and holding myself accountable to them or using time management techniques. Additionally, as an entrepreneur, I tried to identify the underlying reasons for the procrastination, such as fear of failure or lack of motivation, and worked on addressing those underlying issues. By overcoming procrastination, I can become more productive and efficient, ultimately leading to greater success in business. – Kazi Mamun, CANSOFT
9. Getting Things Done For Cheap
It’s worth paying for quality. In my early years as an entrepreneur, working on a shoestring budget, I thought I could get things done for cheap and that it would work out okay. But, as I’ve discovered over the years, quality is something that you should pay to get. It’s better to do something right or not do it at all. This is especially the case with anybody working on the product, whether it’s engineering or design. – Andy Karuza, NachoNacho