In almost every small business, there comes a point where you hit a wall. Something isn’t quite working, or the same patterns repeat themselves.
Maybe it’s taking much longer to grow than you’d hoped. Perhaps your profits remain stubbornly low.
There will always be challenges for those brave enough to run their own business – whether it’s a pandemic, an economic downturn, a draining client or a lack of cashflow – but sometimes, there comes a point where you also have to look within.
Sometimes you have to ask: ‘Is it me? Am I subconsciously sabotaging my own business?’
Fresh Clarity are not just chartered accountants; we’re also business advisors. We’ve helped countless businesses owners to overcome their hurdles to growth by pinpointing what’s been holding them back.
Sometimes it’s fear of failure, or even fear of success. Sometimes their decisions are driven by a deep-rooted fear of running out of money, and sometimes it’s down to confidence.
Whatever the reason, it’s healthy to look at your own behaviours and consider how they might be holding you back from true and lasting business growth. So let’s explore some of the most common self-sabotaging patterns we’ve helped our clients to address:
#1. You lack confidence in yourself
This is probably the biggest barrier to growth we see today. A lot of this uncertainty comes from trying to do too much, when you don’t actually need to. You know what you’re good at – your business is probably your passion – so the key is to focus on that passion, and get someone else to help you with the parts you’re less confident in. It’s the only way to grow.
#2. You’re too focussed on avoiding tax
Do you spend a huge amount of time looking for ways to avoid paying tax? Whether it’s skirting around the VAT threshold (you can’t) or looking for non-existent tax loopholes, it’s incredibly counterproductive and mostly a complete waste of time. Tax is tax, and if your focus is on avoiding it in the short term, you’ll never grow your business in the long term.
#3. You won’t invest in getting the right support
Short term thinking is another self sabotaging trait. If you aren’t willing to invest in your business to get the right support – for the sake of saving a few quid – you’ll waste an inordinate amount of time on areas you’re not confident in, like bookkeeping, payroll and marketing. The time you spend doing this is time you could’ve spent doing something much more valuable for your business, and it’s a sure-fire way to halt growth.
#4. You’re not charging enough
This one’s huge and it happens so often. Sometimes you find yourself so concerned with bringing work in that you charge too low to keep clients on board. Years down the line, you’re struggling to cover the cost of servicing that client, leading to resentment and stagnation. Knowing your operating margin inside out, and where you’re positioned in your marketplace, will help to keep you focussed on charging your worth.
#5. You’re trying to please everyone
Lots of business owners are people-pleasers. If you’re one of them, you probably find it very hard to say no – to clients who haggle you down, projects you don’t want to be involved in, or work that doesn’t really align with your purpose. Learning to say no and being kind – rather than being nice – is the key. You have to put your business and its needs first, and you won’t always please everyone.
#6. You over-promise and under-deliver
This is another self sabotaging pattern that’s rooted in a fear of losing out on work. You feel you have to promise the earth to a prospective client, knowing that you don’t have the time, budget or resources to deliver. This will inevitably lead to disappointment all round. Don’t be tempted to over-promise anything – trust that your value comes from yourself, your experience, your knowledge and your service.
#7. You’re following someone else’s path
When you see other successful business owners, it’s very tempting to simply follow the path they’ve taken. Unfortunately, this rarely works because every business is ultimately unique. You don’t know what level of effort or what specific actions that business owner is taking to make it work. Being true to yourself – your goals, your passions and your abilities – is the only way to grow.
#8. You’re just too busy to handle growth
Maybe you’ve hit upon a great idea. You launch, it’s a success, you get too busy too quickly and become overwhelmed – then it all falls down. A business must be scalable to be successful, and for that, you need systems and processes that can handle the growth you’re aiming for. It might not sound exciting, but solid systems are the building blocks of every successful operation.