Stop These Destructive Habits Before They Sabotage Your Business

Like it or not, we are creatures of habit. …

While we like to think of ourselves as independent thinkers utilizing unique behaviors, many of our responses for much of the time are on autopilot.

And that’s why the term “habit” can have a negative meaning. But even though, habits aren’t bad in and by themselves.

There is real value to having habit and routine in our lives. Because if we didn’t, life would be overwhelming and difficult to manage at best.

Habits help us reduce the countless choices we’re forced to make every single day. They also help us process the thousands of small tasks we must complete daily.

Imagine how overwhelming it would be if every single day you’d have to rethink and relearn how to:

  • Take a shower
  • Get dressed
  • Prepare and eat breakfast
  • Drive your car
  • Make a phone call

Luckily, most of our habits serve us well and help us live a more productive life.

Negative Habits

However, over time we also take on habits that work against us.

Strangely, some of these habits may have been beneficial at one time. But now, they’re counterproductive and may even work against us.

These are the habits that can get you in trouble if you don’t pay attention.

But before we continue, let’s define what a habit is. While there is more than one definition, here is one I believe is most applicable to this discussion.

Merriam-Webster tells us that a habit is “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition… or an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.”

But now, perhaps you’re wondering how this relates to your business?

Well, for all of us, habits are an integral part of who we are. They are with us no matter where we are and what we do; in our personal lives and our business life.

While some habits may be appropriate and even beneficial in your personal life, they may not work the same when applied to your business; some may even work against you.

Running a business is hard enough as is, but many business owners make it even harder on themselves, and that’s where habits come into play.

Five habits, in particular, may be damaging if allowed uncontrolled range in your business. Here they are:

  • Not Managing or Poorly Managing Stress

As a healthcare provider, you know all about stress. But regardless of the stress you were exposed to as an employee, it was radically different from the stress you’ll experience as a business owner.

That’s why it’s important to look at how you deal with stress when first starting your business. Do you handle stress well, in a healthy kind of way? Or does stress get the better of you, making you run the other way?

How have you dealt with stress in the past? Has your stress response been helpful or has it worked against you?

And most importantly, will your way of managing stress help you in your business. Because one thing you can count on, there will be generous servings of stress in your business.

So if you realize your skills of managing stress healthily and productively need improvement, now is the time to learn some new coping strategies.

  • Working until You Burn Out, not Taking Care of Yourself

It seems like there’s always something else to get done. There’s another chart to finish and just one more phone call to return. And at times it seems that it will never end.

There are countless things to do and only so many hours in a day. And that is why so many small business owners push themselves to work long hours, neglecting sleep and leisure activities. This invariably leads to burnout, which can sabotage and damage your business over time.

Decide on a work schedule and stick to it. Also, get the right help and put the proper systems in place. When you do this, you remove the need to work long, exhausting hours routinely.

Promise yourself to structure your business in a way so that you no longer need to work long hours, unless absolutely necessary.

  • Failure to Delegate, Trying to Do it All Yourself

New business owners often think they have to do everything themselves. And granted, at times it’s just easier to do it yourself, instead of taking the time to teach someone.

The trouble with this approach…? You’ll always be doing things yourself, even if an employee could easily handle it.

And just because you can do something yourself, doesn’t mean that you should. Realize your time is valuable!

So instead of trying to do it yourself, learn to delegate what can be delegated and get comfortable with it.

  • The “I Know This Already” Trap…

This may be one of the most dangerous habits, thinking “I know that already.” Unfortunately, it’s something many of us have done in the past.

For example, it’s dangerous to make assumptions about your target market based on what you think they need or want. Don’t rely on what you think you know. Research your market, get objective data and base your decisions on that.

If you’re too set in your own opinions, you may be ignoring crucial new information that comes along. While you may know something about a topic, getting someone else’s “take” on it could make a world of difference to how you think about it.

So, keep your mind open, know what you don’t know, and realize there is always room to learn more.

  • Not Enough Listening

The skill of being a good listener is valuable all the way around. It’s one of the best skills you can develop not only as a healthcare provider but also as a business owner.

Whether it’s a colleague, patient, or employee talking, don’t tune them out, but hear them. People provide us with ongoing valuable feedback.

For example, don’t ignore a complaint from a customer. Listen to it and then see if you can make any adjustments or improvements. Don’t be afraid of suggestions and feedback from customers, encourage them. And when you do, be prepared to act on them.

To succeed in business and life, you have to work with others, but it’s hard to do that unless you listen to them.

While running your own business can be challenging, it is also rewarding. Make it a point to develop the right habits that support you in achieving your goals.

Do your best to identify and eliminate habits that no longer serve you but tend to sabotage your success in business. And replace these old habits with new ones that help you succeed and grow with your business.

Can you think of other habits that might sabotage your business? please don’t be shy, leave us a comment and let us know!


By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.

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