Growth / Personal Development

Bad business habits small business owners should avoid

Laura Dolan

Updated: Sep 20, 2022 · 5 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

bad business habits

If you’re a small business owner, it’s implied that you’re new to your daily routine and to the business world in general. While getting adjusted to your new surroundings, mistakes will be made and bad habits will form. The way to overcome these bad habits and to prevent them from impeding your business and affecting your customers is to be aware of what they are beforehand.

The following is a list of common bad business habits small business owners should avoid:

Not encouraging employees

Small business owners who don’t make the time to teach their employees new skills or give them a myriad of responsibilities impede their potential and therefore, the employees will lack motivation.

A successful business can’t run without the help of a devoted staff. Employees are more ambitious when they receive positive feedback. Don’t just treat them like cogs in a machine either, interact with them so they don’t feel like they’re working for an enigma. Being an approachable owner and boss helps employees know they have a place to go if things start to go wrong.

Small business owners also need to accommodate their employees’ needs. It’s easy to get bogged down in the trenches when it comes to day-to-day operations, but helping your employees accomplish their career goals will inspire them to work hard for you and make your business a priority.

Bad delegation

Not having enough faith in your employees can also lead to micromanaging and a lack of efficient delegation. You invest money, time and trust in your employees–make them feel that way. Doing everything yourself just makes you more stressed and could create unnecessary resentment from the people who are working so hard for you because they feel you don't trust them. Help them feel successful. You know what their strengths are, you’re the one who hired them. Allocate tasks that hone your employees’ capabilities. You’ll see a boost in morale and a boost in business.

Bad decision making

Bad delegation can lead to impulsive decision making when a small business owner feels the weight of the company is on their shoulders. The stress can lead to an upsurge of problems where things aren’t getting done and deadlines are being missed. The business can suffer and so can the staff.

As much as you, the owner, want to be in control, the same principle can be applied from above. Hire the best people and lean more on them. Train them to know what’s best for the company so they’re all on the same page. That way, the correct decisions can be made that will help your business prosper.

No employee incentives

A small business owner needs to ensure their employees that there’s more than just showing up to work every day. Providing job perks will encourage employees to feel like they’re contributing something more valuable than just doing the mundane tasks that will prevent them from getting fired.

Offer them rewards such as a gift card for a job well done every now and then. Or perhaps give them a spot bonus once in a while.

You also want to give feedback on a regular basis. Whether it’s once a week, every 6 months, or yearly, review your employees’ progress, and offer tips for improvement and acknowledge the good work that’s been done. This will ensure good employees will stay for the long-term.

Lack of foresight

A small business owner who is overwhelmed with daily operations may lack the time and the drive to plan the company’s future and to anticipate the next steps for growth. This can result in missed opportunities that will not only affect the company’s trajectory but also keep your employees out of the loop.

Make time for regular goal-making sessions with your staff, this way you’ll know how to manage your time around other duties, and future planning for the company will be a part of your routine.

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Endangering fragile company info

The worst thing a small business owner can do is be careless with sensitive company data that is vulnerable to hacking and security breaches.

Make a robust effort to ensure the company’s data is secure and that the employees’ and customers’ information is protected. All business owners need to be prepared for the financial loss that comes with sensitive data being compromised. Educate your employees on how to manage company data in the safest way possible so they won’t be held responsible if the unthinkable happens.

Not paying attention to the market

When starting a new business, it’s imperative to know how the market is behaving and how your company will perform among competitors. Timing everything correctly could have a profound effect on the long-term value of the company. Overexpanding may spread the company too thin, for example, and have a negative impact on how the market and customers respond.

Have realistic expectations

Being optimistic about the future of the company is healthy, especially for a small business just starting out, but as mentioned above, don’t overplay your hand. You have to make the following 3 T’s your mantra, say it with me: Things Take Time.

Do you want to be more successful than your competition? Naturally. But that’s just the thing, let it happen naturally. Being a success overnight is bound to make your business more forgettable. You want to make your presence known and gradually get the word out that you exist. From there, growth will happen at a healthy rate.

Be sure to have an online presence

This isn’t just about having a website. You need a website that’s optimized, organized, has responsive design and divulges valuable information about your company and your products.

Send out digital newsletters once a month to your loyal subscribers about what they’re missing out on so they’ll click through your site.

Make sure your website, newsletters, blogs, and anything pertaining to your company includes the social media icons for the platforms on which your company appears.

Create a landing page for special offers or a blog that will generate more traffic to your site, leading to more conversions either in-store or online.

Looking ahead

Half of the battle is knowing what to expect when it comes to owning a small business. Being aware of what constitutes bad business habits will make it easier to avoid them rather than being blindsided by them before it’s too late. Just take it one day at a time. If you make the right adjustments early on, it’ll make things run much more smoothly in the long run.

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