Most of the business owners I know are go-getters. They're motivated, they're hungry and they're constantly striving to do more. But when I step back and look at the big picture, I sometimes find that growing my business isn't just about adding to my to-do list. Sometimes it's about stopping behaviors that are limiting my success. You may find that putting an end to the following behaviors may help you improve your business.
1. Hiring people who are right for the job, but wrong for your company's culture.
I see it all the time. A business owner hires for a key position, and they go after top talent in the industry. What they fail to understand is that it's not just a candidate's abilities that matter. What matters—perhaps even more—is the way they will or won't mesh with your company culture.
I think it can be easier to teach someone to accomplish tasks than it is to cultivate a system of shared values. Hiring bright folks who get your culture and share your attitude may make more sense than looking for someone who can already do the job, but may not be the best fit.
2. Taking your customers for granted.
We have so much on our plates that it's easy to get caught up in our routines and forget to show our customers how much we appreciate them. Reminding yourself to slow down and have a chat with clients can help strengthen your relationship with them.
3. Pivoting perpetually to improve your business instead of staying true to your company.
If you get caught up in the cycle of constantly tweaking your offerings, you may run the very real risk of transforming yourself right out of business.
I'm not advocating an end to innovation, but I encourage you to preserve what's awesome and unique about your company. I recommend staying authentic and true, rather than trying to reinvent yourself into something your customers may not even want.
4. Marketing without a clear sense of what your goals are.
Branding matters, and unless you're a bona fide marketing genius, I recommend hiring a professional.
Buying an ad whenever the opportunity arises is not a marketing strategy. A cohesive, meaningful marketing plan can help define and broadcast who you are and what you value. It can also help you connect with the right customers. When I stopped treating marketing as an afterthought, I grew my company—I truly believe it can help improve your business as well.
5. Befriending your staff in a way that doesn't establish or maintain boundaries.
Cultivating a strong company culture is important, but you are still the captain of your ship.
My staff knows I'm there when they need support to accomplish their goals, but they also know I'm not their problem solver or their life coach. When every member of a company understands their roles, the company can run smoother.
6. Devoting 110 percent of your energy to your business.
Balance, my friends: When you don't recognize your own kids, you're working too hard!
We need rest in order to recharge and work to our optimum potential. When I let my work take over my life, not only am I not as happy, but I'm also not as sharp. Consider taking some time for yourself and enjoying what you're working so hard to sustain.
7. Trying to make your company appeal to everyone instead of focusing on your target customer.
It's a mistake to believe you have to be the right fit for every potential client. Sure, you're great at what you do, but if you're casting your net too wide, you're likely to end up with a whole lot of little fish, rather than a couple of big ones. Those types of customers probably won't do much to help you improve your business.
Consider figuring out who your ideal customer is—really get detailed and specific with that vision. Then work like hell to please them. If you try to be everything to everyone, you may end up watering down the qualities that make you unique and that help differentiate you from your competitors.
8. Competing on price as a way to attract customers.
One of the benefits of narrowing your focus to appeal to specific customers is that you can raise your prices. If you try to be the cheapest in your industry, then not only may your profit margin be lousy, but you're also likely to attract fickle clients—ones who will abandon you for a deal down the street. If you think you need to lower your price to bring in more business, I urge you to do the opposite. Build your reputation as a specialist, and you may see your margins improve.
Sometimes all you need to do to succeed is get out of your own way. If you stop doing the very things that are preventing you from growing your company, you may learn new habits that can help transform your opportunities and improve your business.
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