As entrepreneurs, we face many challenges as we start and grow our businesses. Funding uncertainties, competitive pressures, economic downturns, and more put a multitude of obstacles in our paths.
But sometimes, the most difficult roadblock hindering our success is ourselves.
Could you be standing in the way of your business achieving its full potential?
If you exhibit any of the below characteristics, you are likely thwarting your ability to improve and grow your business.
Resistance To New Ideas - If you're not open to hearing and considering others' thoughts on product and service enhancements, marketing concepts, alternative ways of handling tasks, and other ideas, you could be forfeiting viable business-boosting innovations. Sadly, you'll never know what you're missing if you tune out suggestions from your employees, advisors, or customers.
How to step out of your own way? When someone comes to you with an idea, make a conscious effort to listen, and wait to respond until you've considered it for at least 24 hours. That will help you avoid the knee-jerk reaction to immediately reject an idea that has merit.
Resistance To Change - Resisting change for fear of leaving your comfort zone, fear of failure, or fear of being laughed at can leave you stuck in a rut and incapable of adapting to the dynamic business environment. Obviously, that's not a recipe for growth.
How to step out of your own way? Go small and simple at first to become comfortable with how it feels to step away from old habits and adopt new ways of doing things. For example, if you're trying to improve your productivity, start with the uncomplicated change of reserving 20 minutes at the beginning of each day to respond to email messages rather than implementing a full-blown project management solution out of the gate.
Fear Of Delegating - Nobody can do it as well as you, right? Letting go of responsibilities and assigning them to someone else can be scary, but there comes a time when you can't do everything on your own.
How to step out of your own way? Take inventory of the responsibilities on your plate (e.g., bookkeeping, social media posting, preparing invoices, etc.) and determine which of them could be transferred to either an employee or independent contractor. When assigning tasks to others, provide clear direction, communicate your expectations, and offer to be available to answer questions and provide guidance. That will make both you and the people to whom you've assigned tasks more confident in your decision to delegate.
Hesitation To Take Risks - Entrepreneurship comes with inherent risks--some big and some small. Many might intimidate you to the point of inaction. If you want to grow your business, you can't run and hide from all opportunities that come with an element of risk.
How to step out of your own way? Increase your comfort level with confronting risk by learning as much as you possibly can about opportunities that have both pros and cons attached to them. Enlist the help of a professional who can help you assess risk and guide you in making informed "go" or "no go" decisions.
A "Build It And They Will Come" Mindset - I've seen far too many small business owners, most often those with brick and mortar locations, embody this damaging thought process. Just because you're local, and just because your product or service may be the only game in town now, doesn't mean customers have to support your business. Being present and accounted for isn't enough--you have to make an effort to promote your business and generate awareness of what you provide.
How to step out of your own way? Never ever assume everyone knows who you are and the value you're offering customers. Marketing your business by taking advantage of networking opportunities, local media coverage, a website, and social media are just a few of the ways to generate awareness and attract customers. Most important is to NEVER take your customers for granted. By delivering an exceptional customer experience--even if you don't have direct competition in your locale--you can secure the loyalty and long-term relationships needed to sustain and grow your business.
As I've started and grown businesses throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I've found myself blocking my own way periodically. I can wholeheartedly relate to what you might be experiencing as you try to get over yourself and pursue something more for your business.
Above all, I think the key to overcoming the roadblocks we set up for ourselves is to get past the negative self-talk we so often engage in internally. Take stock of your strengths and capabilities as a business owner, and let them fuel your confidence. With self-confidence, you'll feel less inclined to stand in the way of moving your business forward.