Sometimes we make huge mistakes. Missteps that put our businesses at risk and blunders we can’t fix. And infamous faux pas that we can never live down…
We’ve all made those. One of the worst professional mistakes I’ve ever made was accepting a gig with a sub-par company just to fluff up my resume. Let’s just say it didn’t end well.
Sometimes we make small mistakes that don’t seem like big deals at the time. I once created a huge sign about the “marital” arts (which look like this!):
When I really meant this:
This tiny typographical error led to many phone calls asking exactly what we were teaching kids and everyone had a good laugh. Even though I spent $100 to fix my error, I found the entire thing hilarious. Yet, some blunders show us how we can be our worst enemy. They are the kind of simple mistakes that highlight cracks in our management styles and end up hurting our business. Fortunately, they are all easy to fix once we see the error of our ways.
You Try to Reinvent the Wheel
We all want to be innovators. That’s great when we dream up new solutions to complex problems. However, when we solve issues that don’t exist or come up with new innovations in an effort to look good, we end up hurting our overall productivity and/or profitability.
As a small business owner in a non-traditional industry, I started assuming nothing fit my business. I rejected standard business software, sales techniques, and marketing advice. I spent countless hours coming up with unique systems that were so complicated no one else could understand how to use them.
Yet, the definition of a good manager is using resources wisely! My time should have been focused on growing my business, not creating more work for myself. In today’s business world, unique and non-traditional businesses are not anomalies and it’s easy to find B2B services. For example, Tradify offers specific HVAC software and InkBook offers tattoo business support. The B2B market works for any business out there and there is no reason to be a maverick anymore.
You Are Never Present
We bring our phones everywhere. To the bathroom, on vacation, and to business meetings.
We strive to multitask in the mistaken belief that we’ll increase our productivity. It works sometimes and sometimes we forget to be present in the moment. In Unfocused? Reboot Your Business with a Jolt to Your System, I share the following scary statistic:
“Facebook users have almost reached $3.5 trillion in squandered productivity. Think about how much time you spend on social media platforms that have nothing to do with your business. Then try to figure out how much that time cost you in actual dollars. That exercise shames me and I have no excuse. I know better.”
I’m not advocating leaving our precious phones at home. Rather, I’m suggesting we are too comfortable interacting with others with half our focus. We believe we’re multitasking – answering emails, social media messages and setting up our next Lyft – while talking with clients, networking, or speaking with our employees. This doesn’t always increase our productivity and can be incredibly unprofessional.
If you don’t think you can put your phone down for 30 minutes, try using an app like Forest which semi-locks your phone for a set period of time. It’s a lighthearted attempt to help us focus on one thing at a time while the app shows a cute tree growing. If you use your phone before your set time, you kill your animated tree. This is an easy fix to a bad habit we’re all guilty of doing.
You Never Say No
It’s very easy to say yes to everything when you’re building a business. You’ll take on impossible projects, accept difficult clients, and overcommit while trying to look laidback. We get nervous and scared that we’ll look weak or ineffective. Yet, having an inability to say no hurts our management outcomes and leads to increase stress and anxiety.
In When To Say No In Business So Everyone Comes Out A Winner, Ian Altman explains it’s okay to say no to unrealistic requests and even for unwarranted discounts. You may think saying yes to a discount may encourage a client to do more business with you. However, Altman suggests an unexpected consequence: “The price you quoted them first was ripping them off. So you’ve damaged trust in the relationship.”
I’ve voluntarily worked on weekends and holidays so I’d seem like a dedicated professional. I’ve changed my plans to accommodate a one-time client who failed to pay me on time. I’ve taken on too many projects at the same time because I was scared I’d lose a few gigs. And I was miserable.
Having boundaries doesn’t show weakness. It shows confidence and professionalism. Instead of saying yes to everything and then not delivering your best, say no to the things that don’t fit your goals. You’ll be happier and more productive when you’re not overwhelmed by all your yesses.
Creating a Style that Inspires
Being a manager isn’t easy. It’s different from being a leader, whose main job is to create a vision and inspire someone else to make it happen. A manager is responsible for plans logistics and juggles the day-to-day task that helps make a vision a reality.
As a small business owner, I play both roles. And the majority of mistakes I make are definitely on the management side. It’s easy for me to speak at an event and get folks excited about a new project. On the other hand, launching that project without a major blunder is always challenging.
There is no shame in making mistakes and we’re all going to make a million in our careers. But if you want to become a business professional that inspires others, learn from your mistakes. Be your own worst critic and take an honest look at how you manage your time, productivity and workday.
Then be courageous enough to live up to your own standards.