10 Tricky Ways You Might Self-Sabotage Your Small Business Growth

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It’s sad, but true: small businesses self-sabotage with startling regularity. Any number of factors play into a business failing to grow into its true potential. From a failure of morale to a failure of methods and logistics, more often than not, the inhibition comes from honest good intentions meeting bad ideas. How might your small business growth be subject to self-sabotage? It’s frightening easier than one thinks. 

1. Lack of Confidence. Perhaps the simplest form of self-sabotage that inhibits small business growth is a critical lack of confidence. (Click to Tweet) This lack of confidence makes substantial gains impossible to achieve. Confidence in your product and/or service, your ability to successfully grow your business, and your capacity to take on new responsibilities and new markets all play a vital role in small business growth.

2. Too much Ambition. Shocking, isn’t it! At first glance, this seems quite the opposite of the previous situation but it’s not.  Excessive ambition comes in many forms, not just wasteful overconfidence. A business that attempts to change too rapidly, or expands too broadly, often ends up with less successful results than one which focuses its efforts and develops specific, realistic goals.

3. “In-the-Box” Thinking. Getting trapped in preconceptions about your business limits your ability to grow. (Click to TweetNot every form of growth needs to be ‘the same, but bigger.’ In many cases, your greatest route to growth will be something new and different. Don’t sabotage your potential by closing your mind.

4. Failure to Control Costs. In the excitement of new opportunities and ideas, it’s easy to let costs grow out of control—rendering any gains pointless as you break the bank, even at new heights. Your business partners and employees may appreciate your new spending habits, however, your bottom line will go nowhere if you don’t consider costs alongside growth.

5. Undervaluing Morale.  This is a challenge for any business, growing or not. Employee morale determines efficiency, efficacy, turnover, and myriad other factors in your company’s performance. Keeping employees happy, even if it seems on the surface to be costing time or resources, give you better returns. 

6. Inefficient Operations. Growing companies often suffer as operational systems that barely held together at a smaller size fall apart completely. Waiting for that collapse, then patching the existing system to cover the cracks, wastes time, effort, and efficiency. Build your operations for the business you want…not the business you have. (Click to Tweet)

7. Unstructured Expansion. Expanding without clear goals often results in an enterprise pulling itself in many directions without growing. Develop a strategy for growth…one that includes a plan you can observe, tweak, and follow through on. Without structure, it can be difficult to recognize growth and nurture it.

8. Refusing the Proper Tools. Refusing to adapt to changes in the way a modern business operates can cripple your small business growth. As our ability to analyze and perfect our businesses grows, so too does the edge afforded by the proper tools. Hold back and your competitors will surge ahead.

9. Looking at the Wrong Metrics. Sometimes the obvious place to analyze isn’t the right place to analyze. Looking at the wrong values for your company’s success can lead you down foolish paths. It’s important to consider where your metrics will send you…and what improving certain numbers will truly gain you.

10. Failure to Seize Opportunities. The ultimate source of small business stagnation? A simple failure to seize opportunities. Not every chance to grow your business comes with a guarantee, a warranty, and a big blinking light saying “DO THIS!” (Click to Tweet)

Have you caught yourself in self-sabotaging behaviors? How did you put the brakes on it? 


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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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