The number of good habits it takes to successfully run a small business is something that’s different for everyone, regardless of what industry they work in. Finding all the good traits we need to be successful can take years, but they will eventually come.

It’s really the destructive habits that are hardest to break. Once they rear their ugly head and start to eat away at your business, they can be like invading termites hollowing out the floor joists and support beams of your dream home.

Slacking during work
photo credit: Tim Patterson / Flickr

1. Letting things get personal

Guaranteed, if you let things get personal in business, trouble is sure to follow. A client who has a smart-Alec personality can wear you down to nothing if you read an insult from everything they say to you.

Think love trumps all and that it’s okay to ask your secretary out on a date?

Nope, it’s a nightmare waiting to happen. Ask 9 people who’ve ever done it and you’ll come back with at least 8 who say it was a really bad decision.

Same with getting involved with employee’s and client’s private lives. Their misery is sure to have a negative trickle down effect into your business or personal life, in one way or another.

2. Forgetting names

People like being called by name. Make no mistake about this one. There’s no excuse (none) for not knowing a client’s name when you arrive at a meeting.

Seeing an important contact at a networking event, or that of an employee you don’t see all the time is a sure way to disrespect that individual.

Remembering a supplier or service company rep’s name can help you get special treatment when you really need it too.

You wouldn’t forget the name of your mother or father, your sister or brother, wife or husband. Right? Read this.

3. Being a micromanagement expert

It takes a team to build a house. An army to conquer an entire country. A corporation to run a franchise.

You can’t have your hands in every aspect of how your business runs.

Micromanagers are rarely happy individuals and they rarely become wealthy entrepreneurs or CEOs either.

Be detail oriented but also be a delegator who knows when the time is right to stay out of the mix and just let things get done.

4. Sleepless nights

Some of the greatest minds in history have been narcoleptics (see a few here).

However, few people can function at a high level if they’re not getting regular sleep, on a nightly basis.

Lack of sleep leads to increased irritability – forget about having the decision making skills needed to run a business after two straight night without any shuteye!

Learn to flip your business mind off when the day is done from Marie Forleo.

Tired young entrepreneur

5. Working endless weekends

The traditional idea of a “weekend” is really an ambiguous one in this day and age.

Whether you choose to make Friday – Sunday your weekend, or simply need to take a day two off during the “week”, it’s necessary to have at least one (preferably two) days during the week where business decisions are at an absolute minimum.

Ask yourself what you’re really working for. If it’s more freedom, consider that you could die tomorrow and never get the chance to enjoy life at all.

6. Obsessive multitasking

Some people are born for doing multiple things at once.

Some people can also jump from a helicopter strapped to a snowboard and navigate their way around treacherous jagged rocks and over massive jumps at over a hundred miles an hour (yikes).

How many? Very few!

It’s the same with multitasking. An extreme few can do it effectively for extended periods but the end result is almost always sub-par.

Multitasking makes you less productive, but the real addictive kicker is that it also makes you feel more satisfied about what you have gotten done – even though you accomplished less and may have to do it over again. Read this insightful article on the realities of multitasking.

To recap…

While number 1 and 2 are well known professional faux-pas; numbers 3 – 6 are actually contradictions to commonly-held ideologies about how a strong business person needs to spend their day:

  • Sleep less and work more. Early bird gets the worm.
  • Hey, you can always take a vacation when you’re a millionaire.
  • Keep on top of every aspect of your business or something will surely go wrong.
  • Get more things done in less time. Don’t be a lazy arse.

If you possess one or more of the business-killing, life-sucking traits mentioned above, I’m here for you! Breaking any one of them can easily be compared to a smoker curbing the cigarettes, or an alcoholic giving up the bottle…

Take it one day at a time and tell your coworkers and your family about your plans, let them help you and make you accountable if they ever see you start to backslide.

Good luck!