There is plenty of advice out there for young entrepreneurs on developing good habits: self-care, timelines, and to-do lists are just a few examples. Good habits help you stay healthy and strong so that you can be the best version of yourself as you finish high school, apply to college, and start your entrepreneurial journey.
Yet bad habits are something everyone deals with. We all have them. We all work hard to break them. These six bad habits are especially harmful to young entrepreneurs and their small business startups. Don’t worry if you find yourself checking each one of these off in your mental list – we’ve also offered some advice on how to face each one and turn it around.
Everyone is guilty of procrastinating. Just one more TikTok. Finish this game. Do your chores first. There are a million and one excuses for not getting started on building your new business or doing the daily work to keep it going. For young entrepreneurs, those excuses are very real, such as finishing homework or doing your regular chores. You absolutely need to make sure those are taken care of; don’t let the rest of your life fall by the wayside as you start a new business.
The other way to procrastinate is getting mired down in research. Research is important for starting a new enterprise, just make sure it’s not keeping you from moving forward.
The bottom line: You’ll always find a reason (or several) not to do something. If your business is important enough to you, though, no excuse in the world will keep you from it. Here are some apps that can help keep you focused.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
Optimism is what separate successful young entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack. Without a positive outlook, you would never have the courage to make your dream a reality. Make no mistake: optimism is a crucial mindset for young entrepreneurs.
The problem comes when optimism becomes an unrealistic expectation. Starting an errand-running business for your neighbors is a fantastic way to earn money while providing a necessary service for the community. Thinking that your brand-new enterprise will put Instacart out of business, however, is just wishful thinking. Unrealistic expectations can set you up for feelings of disappointment and failure.
The bottom line: Dreaming big is one of the things we love about young entrepreneurs. Keep dreaming big while maintaining realistic goals as you get started. As you reach these more down-to-earth goals, you’ll develop a better sense of accomplishment, which will then pave the way for bigger things!
3. Losing Focus
At the other end of the spectrum is losing focus. As you are no doubt aware from your many school projects, it is all too easy to get mired down in the details of what you’re doing and forget the big picture. In other words, you’re no longer “seeing the forest for the trees.”
Remember that errand-running business we mentioned above? Naturally, there will be fires to put out and bumps in the road as you get up and running. Addressing those concerns is vital so that they don’t wind up sinking your enterprise and undoing all your hard work. But if you find yourself addressing concerns to the exclusion of everything else, you’ll lose sight of the bigger picture: your business.
The bottom line: Remember that you will learn as you go along and be flexible enough to make adjustments as needed.
4. Not Delegating
No single person can possibly do All The Things. No matter how energetic, bright, and motivated you are – and we have no doubt you are! – even you will need to delegate responsibilities at some point. This may mean conscripting a sibling to post on social media or asking a parent for help with the finances. There is zero shame in asking for help; in fact, a strong leader knows when to delegate tasks.
Taking on every single aspect of your business by yourself is a shortcut to burnout and frustration. Being the boss is wonderful and you should stay active in your own entrepreneurial journey – don’t delegate so much that everyone else does all the work. An easy way to figure out if a task needs to be delegated is to ask yourself if this particular thing has started to take over your entire business. Are you so focused on marketing that you are neglecting the day-to-day goings-on that keep your enterprise running? If so, then marketing is an area where you’ll want to ask for help.
The bottom line: Being the boss doesn’t have to mean going it alone. Teamwork makes the dream work!
5. Ignoring the Market
“The market” on a small scale means your immediate competition, such as that classmate who is also providing an errand-running service. On a larger scale, “the market” means the big hitters in your field: PostMates, Instacart, etc.
Especially when you are still in the planning stages and early launching phase of your business, pay attention to similar companies in your field. Doing so will help you price your products, find a niche, and time your market strategy. Once you are off and running, staying in the loop can inspire you to grow, innovate, and adjust the various aspects of your business as needed.
The bottom line: Without making yourself paranoid, keep an eye on businesses similar to your own so you can stay relevant.
It’s perfectly normal and natural to have a fear of failure. But are you holding back on starting a business because you fear success?
While that may seem counter-intuitive, fear of success is very real.
Knowing that your business may fail several times over before you find success can make you stronger, more determined. It may be the very thing that motivates you and gets you out of bed in the morning. We know that young entrepreneurs are capable of taking failure in stride and learning from their mistakes.
So why would fear of success even be a thing? Because success means change and even good change can be difficult to face. Success also means people are paying attention to you, which can lead to something called “imposter syndrome.” That’s where, deep down inside, you don’t think you deserve success, no matter how hard you worked for it. And this can cause you to unconsciously self-sabotage the very dream you are working so hard to achieve.
The bottom line: Have a long, honest look inside yourself and find out if imposter syndrome and fear of success are holding you back. Are they causing you to procrastinate? Get lost in the details? Do these feelings keep you from delegating because you’re afraid your team won’t take you seriously as a boss?
Facing this fear will be difficult, but it will also allow you to take the steps you need to overcome self-sabotage.
This list isn’t meant to make you feel bad or give up on your dreams. Quite the opposite! Knowing what these bad habits are can help you identify them within yourself and overcome them so you can achieve maximum success!
Young entrepreneurs in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we have to offer and how to apply.