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  • Writer's pictureLaurent Notin

The 3 Mistakes That Get All Entrepreneurs Stuck

In 23 years of working directly with entrepreneurs (including interviewing more than 100 of them on my podcast Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code) I've discovered that the biggest risk entrepreneurs face is becoming the bottleneck in their businesses.

There are many ways you can be a bottleneck, but the result is always the same: you are stuck. And when you're stuck, your business is stuck!

Here are the 3 most common mistakes that will guarantee you get stuck.

The 3 most common mistakes that will get all entrepreneurs stuck

Mistake #1: You Are Lost In The Details​

Being an entrepreneur is the most exciting and demanding job I know. Entrepreneurship is like a giant iceberg. We only see the tip of it, and we don't realize how big it actually is until we give it a try.​

As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to wear many hats, acquire many skills, and make many decisions – fast. All whilst under extreme pressure to deliver quality work to your clients, take care of your employees, and maintain a healthy cash flow. On top of that, there are no proper guidelines to execute your plan. Basically, you have to figure out which piece is going where, and how to place it by when as you walk your entrepreneurship journey. ​ So, it’s very easy to be sucked up into the daily struggles:

  • There’s a technical problem with the product? Let me look into it!

  • Why don’t the social media ads perform as per my expectations? Let me dig into the data!

  • ​Why didn’t my team deliver this project the way I wanted? Let me review the entire process!

  • Why is that potential client not calling me back? Let me follow up with them!

  • How am I going to pay the staff salary at the end of the month? Let me call the bank!

The list goes on... ​ I understand your company is your sweat and money, but the problem is, despite what you may believe, you can’t take care of everything. ​ As a matter of fact, having your head stuck in the day-to-day operations prevents you from thinking about the big picture and answering questions like, Where are we going? Why? How will we get there? Are we still on track? What are we going to do about it? ​ Richard Burrage, the Founder of Cimigo, a market research firm based in Vietnam, explained it well on Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code, episode 20:

“I still enjoy doing stuff but that doesn’t help me manage. If I spend 4h today writing a proposal, if I really sit back and think about it, I’d be far better off teaching somebody else and mentoring or coaching someone else through that process rather than doing it myself. Take time out to reflect more on significant decisions.”

Most common entrepreneurial mistake 1 symptoms

Mistake#2: You Just Can't Let Go

There are 4 entrepreneurship stages:

Stage 1 – Pre-launch: When you wonder how to do it

Stage 2 – Start: When you get it done yourself

Stage 3 – Growth: When you make sure it is done

Stage 4 – Maturity: When you build an organization that gets it done

If you’re successful, your business will expand through each of these stages.

At the beginning of your entrepreneurship journey, your resources are limited. So, of course, you’re running everywhere, and you’re involved in every little thing (watch out for mistake #1!).

However, as the company grows, you should gradually remove yourself from the day-to-day operations to focus on hiring people, creating efficient processes to strengthen your business’ foundations, and working on your company’s strategy.

Nolan Garret, the Founder of Intrinium, an IT and Security Solutions company in the USA, shares his experience on Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code, episode 75:

“When we were 2 or 3 people, you could say it’s my success because I’m literally doing all of this work all the way to sending the invoices and everything else. You grow past 10 people, and you realize the only thing I do is talk to and work with other people to help them with their challenges in the business or working on a problem for a client. Clearly, they’re the ones doing the work, clearly, it’s the people who are making this successful.”

Indeed, this is how it’s supposed to be.

Except that if you don’t let go of some of your tasks as your company gets bigger, you’ll soon find yourself in a situation where you hit a wall.

We easily get attached to doing everything by ourselves but at one point you need to stop fixing the problems, stand back, and gradually let your people make the decisions for you.

In other words, stop working in your business, and start working on your business.

I remember a client who was supervising all his customers’ projects himself. He reached a point where he realized his position was unsustainable because he couldn’t find the time to do anything else.

So, we started digging and found out he didn’t actually want to delegate the responsibilities to someone else.

We dug a little deeper, and we uncovered the cause of the problem. He was very proud of the high-quality standards his clients benefited from, standards he’d spent years building. The truth was he was afraid of seeing a significant decrease in quality if he was to delegate project management.

Eventually, we worked out a solution to not only ensure it wouldn’t happen but to actually use the situation as an opportunity to increase the quality of services.

And he did. He said: “I definitely feel more in control, of not only the management but also in terms of having more direction – I didn’t have a business plan or strategy – It was very organic the way in which my company came about. So not only did I realize the importance of having a business partner with clear directions, but also it made me feel that I was meeting goals along the way.”

Letting go is one of the best favors you can do for yourself and your business.