Five character traits every entrepreneur should avoid

Focus, discipline, self-awareness, mindset and follow through are some of the most important attributes of a successful business owner. However, there are some character traits that will definitely hold you back if you are not aware of them...

Go through the list of the five traits below and ask yourself if you embody any of them. Be honest and willing to take a deep look at yourself so you can work through the habits that could be standing in the way of building a growing enterprise.

1. Doer

Do you find satisfaction in marking things off your to-do list even if you’re not sure of the end goal? Do you work quickly and diligently and focus on the here and now, not the big picture? Doers are great at getting things done and take great pride in being productive. It’s a nice trait to have, and it’s one that planners look at with envy.

Read: Three misconceptions about entrepreneurs which prevent success

However, if you’re not mixing the doing with the planning, you’re just running toward an undetermined goal - which may or may not be aligned with the business and life you are trying to create. In order to grow your business, you have to strategize, think about what you are building and know what each day is adding up to. Otherwise, you are spending a lot of time running in circles with no end in sight. To avoid constantly doing without getting traction, hire a business coach, find a mentor, or work with a friend who has good planning skills. If you’re not wired for strategizing, just know that you don’t have to do it alone. 

2. Blamer

Have you ever said, "The reason things aren’t going my way is not my fault" and totally believed it? Instead of seeking answers or a solution, are you comfortable placing blame on others? This attribute may be the hardest to admit to yourself, especially if you are used to pointing fingers and placing the responsibility on others.

Recognising when you are blaming your past, the people around you, the economy, and other outside factors for your own success (or lack thereof), is when you will start to experience change. Taking 100 per cent responsibility for your success not only gives you a stronger sense of ownership over your business, but also empowers you to make better decisions in all areas of your life. The best way to get started with addressing your blaming ways is to write it down. As you hear yourself blaming someone for something, acknowledge it and note it. At the end of the day, look at your list and recognise patterns. Once you’re aware of the behavior, you can start to change it.

3. Reality-avoider

Does this sound like you? "I don’t need to research my idea or my customers; I know my plan will work." Or perhaps: "I'm a hard worker and that’s all I need to make my business successful." While optimism is a nice trait for entrepreneurs to possess, it can also get you in trouble. One of the major reasons why eight out of 10 entrepreneurs fail in their first 18 months is because they didn’t do adequate research upfront. Rather than talk to their target customer and understand whether or not they would actually pay for their new service or product, many entrepreneurs launch into building and investing everything they have without any clue of whether or not their idea would work.

If you are a reality-avoider and spend your time dreaming, a good first step is to find 20 people who you would want to sell to and find out how they are solving your target problem today, if they would pay for a better solution, and how much they would pay. This type of preliminary research is a good starting point so you are not one of the 80 per cent of failing businesses. 

4. Planner

Are you more comfortable reading about how to do something than actually trying it? Have you been told you should be more adventurous and spontaneous? Perhaps you’ve decided to research a new hobby or investigate starting a business, and months, possibly years have gone by without taking any action. If you are a planner, you may be in danger of never starting anything. Planners have a mantra: "not yet". Planners are perfectionists who want nothing more than to have complete control over outcomes.

Read: The intrapreneurs driving innovation from within

While it’s a great idea to collect information, build a plan, and know where you are heading, the important part for you is acting on that plan. Some business owners delay launches, stall on marketing themselves in fear of saying the wrong thing, hold off on taking big meetings, and wait until they are "ready" to get started. To avoid forming and organising ideas forever, planners should set "start date" deadlines for themselves so they can anticipate the end of the planning stage and the beginning of action. Accountability buddies are helpful as well and will keep you focused on doing, even when you think you need to continue to plan.

5. Know-it-all

Do you feel you were born with the gift of figuring things out? Do you scoff at people who sit around reading how-to books and taking classes? Do you always trust your gut instead of making an informed decision? It’s great to trust yourself and be a problem solver without always reading the manual, but engaging in intentional learning is another important tool business owners must master. 

The most successful entrepreneurs I’ve ever met describe themselves as lifelong students. They dedicate themselves to learning about their customer, researching their industry, observing trends, taking risks, and calculating next steps. When I meet someone who says they don’t have anything else to learn, I’m nervous. While formal education and sitting in a classroom don’t have to be your method of learning, taking an active interest in acquiring new knowledge is crucial to continue growing as a leader and building your business. If you are hesitant to look for new learning opportunities, focus on one area of your life or business that isn’t going well and start researching people who are good in that area. Find out what they did and start thinking about how you could do the same. This type of focused learning is a useful way to avoid the pitfalls of the know-it-all and start you on the path to growth.

In order to grow a healthy business, the founder (you) must be willing to take an honest look at weaknesses and problem areas. By addressing the danger spots and truly working through them, you will start to see big results in your work and in your bottom line.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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