20 Traits of Failing Entrepreneurs You Should Avoid

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Working regularly from coffee shops or partner community spaces has given me an opportunity to meet solopreneurs and beginner entrepreneurs who dream of making it big. I have also met hundreds of all kinds of entrepreneurs as well as worked with and trained many of them.

Noticeably, there is a growing appreciation for entrepreneurship. According to FreshBooks, 96% of self-employed people have no interest in returning to a ‘regular job.’ While their perseverance is admirable, there are several other traits to watch out for that no entrepreneur will fall into any trap and dwindle away the chances of getting successful.

I have written the book, “126 Steps to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur: The Entrepreneurship Fad and the Dark Side of Going Solo” to help shed light on the many aspects of entrepreneurship, characteristic of business opportunity, and the reality of going solo as an entrepreneur.

Neil C. Hughes, The Tech Blog Writer, interviewed me just recently for his “The Tech Talks Daily Podcast” and we talked about my book among other things. Listen in for some fresh insights!

Seeing startups fail weekly, let me be straightforward and share with you my condensed list of 15 main traits of failing entrepreneurs. (Disclaimer: This post was first published on Entrepreneur.com)

1. All Talk, No Action

Beginner entrepreneurs often project some magnificent ideas and spend 80% of their time discussing them passionately with others. They tend to forget that execution is the key – and spending no time on actual implementation won’t get you anywhere.

At the end of the day, what will matter is not how many ideas you have, but how much action have you taken.

2. Aiming for Unreasonable Goals

One key to achieving goals is to set a realistic deadline. 

A business plan expecting a thousand users for a $150 product within the first month for a commodity makes zero sense. Some entrepreneurs fail to define realistic time frames and a growth chart that is achievable.

3. Procrastinators

Even with the right business plan in place, execution is contingent on tons of hard work and hustling. 

A startup should move extremely fast, delivering results on a daily basis and crushing smaller competitors all the time. Slacking and distracting yourself with everything else would surge your productivity and indefinitely extend your time frames.

4. Lack of Focus And Persistence

Some entrepreneurs simply give up too soon. A new business may take years to flourish and results are hardly visible within the first 6 months. Giving up halfway through is a recipe for disaster.

5. Poor Management

Organizing your own workflow and agenda with some KPIs in place is critical. You can’t deliver products on time or hit milestones if you can’t sort out your schedule. Let alone hiring people and expecting them to boost the productivity of the startup.

In “10x Is Easier than 2x: How World-Class Entrepreneurs Achieve More by Doing Less,” the author reveals groundbreaking insights on the efficacy of focusing efforts on high-impact tasks rather than spreading oneself thin. This paradigm shift challenges conventional notions and offers invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs striving to avoid the common pitfall of poor management.

6. Inadequate Financial Planning

Some business ideas require a lot of initial capital. Others have a steeper curve that depends on savings or investment. Many entrepreneurs fail to allocate the required resources or switch their lifestyle to a modest (if not frugal) one that would give them enough time to scale the business. The same goes for making rash decisions and investments early on.

7. Indefinite Excuses

For some, failure is always an external factor that could not have been predicted. Successful entrepreneurs know that they are in charge of their own success. The difference lies in the right planning and owning your own mistakes. Blaming everyone else is counterproductive and entirely incorrect.

8. No Reality Check

Being familiar with the market, your industry, your ideal customer, the strengths of your product, the economical environment, and governmental regulations is simply expected from an entrepreneur. Sometimes, freshers are either outright delusional or fail to do proper and objective market research that supports their business plan.

9. Deceiving or Dishonest

Promising unrealistic features or solutions delivered in no time may help make a sale – but this is a major disservice to your business or brand. Adequate planning, sales, negotiation skills, and management chops are mandatory. Don’t put fake reviews or testimonials on your website. Don’t trick people into buying your product if it doesn’t work for them. It will backfire tenfold.

10. Indecisive

Entrepreneurs have to make a critical decision in a split second. Successful startup owners rely on data, their personal experience, and a pinch of intuition for making strategic decisions. Delaying one or postponing it will add up and cause a major breakdown for the business.

11. Providing a Poor Product or Service

Picking the wrong product or service may not be in demand. This is an automatic no-go for clients. Moreover, if your user experience or the stability of your platform are subpar, this will automatically blacklist you for people who took a leap of faith for you. Perfection isn’t required – but make sure that you’re covering all of the major points that you can.

12. Self-Centric

The entrepreneur who is not a team player is often self-centric. The one who knows everything and can deliver anything. The Übermensch who needs no help, advice, or mentorship. This ego-driven type can hardly survive out there once they lose control of their own workflow, make a series of wrong decisions, delay orders, and follow the wrong business plan regardless of the commonly available advice.

13. Inadequate Work-Life Balance

While working 80 or even 100 hours a week at first isn’t uncommon, failing to maintain a reasonable work-life balance may backfire a few months from now. Busy entrepreneurs should be cautious about their health, family life, or social environment. Even though this time and attention would be limited at first, isolating entirely for a year may detach one from the world and cause health, relationship, and family problems combined with sleep deprivation, obesity, stress, and eventually critical burnout.

14. No Differentiation

Building a new commodity solution with no differentiation isn’t in demand. I’ve seen people working on “the new Wikipedia” or “the next Facebook” incredibly often. They bring no value or a unique selling benefit to their customer audience. It’s time spent on the wrong product without any twist that would attract a certain target audience.

15. Sales And Marketing-Agnostic

Believing that a great product will sell itself is a common myth that is entirely incorrect. Without a proactive sales and marketing plan, a product will fail to reach its target audience and land its first clients. 

Focusing exclusively on the product or the service offering will lead to an unknown and unrecognizable product that nobody cares about – and will inevitably fail before generating any revenue.

16. Lack of Confidence

An entrepreneur must be a people-person in order to sell.

Sales is the lifeblood of the company. Letting your “shyness” get the better of you will keep you from communicating your goals and values as a company to your team and even prospective clients.

17. Lack of Leadership Skills

No business is a one-man show. 

You will have to assemble your own team or outsource some areas of your business to a freelancer but either way, you must be able to exercise leadership which entails having the ability to inspire people and move them to action.

18. Unwillingness to Learn

Entrepreneurs who succeed and make it through any hurdles are those who never stop learning or who never quit wanting to learn.

The market can be highly volatile and business trends tend to change too fast. You can only keep up when you find ways to always learn.

19. Close-mindedness

There is no room for success among those whose minds are incapable of welcoming new ideas or oppose getting challenged. No strategy works with those who are not open to changes or progress.

20. Lack of Foresight

There is nothing worse than failing to see and plan for where you want to be or where you want to take your business through.

The initial steps might seem manageable, but the path ahead becomes fraught with unforeseen obstacles and missed opportunities. By embracing strategic thinking and proactive planning, entrepreneurs can transform uncertainty into a springboard for success.

A lack of foresight keeps an entrepreneur from being proactive in predicting problems and resolving problems as soon as they arise.

Remember, foresight isn’t about predicting the future perfectly; it’s about being prepared for whatever it may hold.

Here’s the link to our entrepreneurship guide for more tips and insights on entrepreneurship. But, which aspect of being an entrepreneur do you find challenging right now?

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