6 ways to fail your business

flickr.com user The Doctr

Sure, businesses fail -- but are you failing your small business?

Here are six ways you could be failing your business:

Your eye has started to wander. You're bored with your business because, well, things have gotten a little stale. You don't want to necessarily leave your company, but you've started to look for a little variety: You're thinking about forming other companies, or starting a side venture, and you pay less and less attention to your primary business. In the process results, relationships with customers and suppliers, and employee morale all suffer.

You focus on the wrong line. When revenue is down it's natural to focus on cutting costs, especially if, like me, you don't come from a sales background. Instead of focusing on the top line and growing sales, you cut and cut and cut until nothing is left. Sometimes it is impossible to save your way to profitability, and focusing on top-line growth is the only long-term answer.

You use "we" at the wrong times. You know there is no "I" in "team" so you try to say "we" -- but at the wrong times. "We worked straight through the weekend," sounds good -- unless you stayed home while your employees were at work. "We need to cut down on errors," sounds good -- unless you're the only one who made the mistakes. Use "I" whenever you personally make a mistake, and use "we" whenever you do something positive.

You network rather than sell. Networking is like sowing seeds. Selling is like harvesting crops. To survive, your business needs sales, not business cards and handshakes. Spend all your time networking on the golf course, at restaurants, and at social events instead of getting out and selling and revenue suffers. Network some of the time -- sell all the time.

You're in it for glory. Does your business serve as an extension of your ego? Is your business just a status symbol? Is your business on display for the greater glory of you? You should serve your business. Your business should not serve you -- and especially not your ego.

You can't stop searching for that one big idea. Innovations and breakthroughs do sometimes build great companies. Innovations and breakthroughs are hard to develop and even harder to deploy, though. Most companies succeed through hard work, attention to detail, and consistent execution. Ignore ideas and small improvements while you search for that one incredible breakthrough and your company will fail. A big idea is unlikely to transform your business; executing lots of small ideas can build a great business.

  • Jeff Haden On Twitter»

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    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.

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