“How could I let this happen?” This was the question I asked myself sitting in the parking lot of the Federal Courthouse on May 6, 2009, about to claim bankruptcy.
Just four years prior, my business had generated a net income of over a million dollars. But here I was, four short years later, with $500 cash left to my name.
As I recovered, I began to realize entrepreneurs who failed–myself included–shared a few destructive characteristics. I also realized entrepreneurs who were able to shed these destructive characteristics found success. The following are the seven characteristics entrepreneurs should shed in order to avoid failure, and find the business success they desire.
1. Their egos.
With over 20 years of research, conducted with hundreds of organizations, Dr. Paul Nutt of Ohio State University found that over one-third of all failed business decisions are driven by ego. Ego is one of the first things entrepreneurs should shed.
The person who thinks he knows everything will never be able to learn anything new. Without new ideas, there is no new growth. If your ego is keeping you from learning and implementing new ways to do business, you are doomed to fail.
2. Their sense of entitlement.
The world owes you nothing. A sense of entitlement leads to a lack of gratitude as well as disappointment and anger. None of these traits promote healthy growth. Long-term success comes from sacrifice, hard work, and perseverance. For entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, they must shed their sense of entitlement.
3. Their self-focus.
The most successful entrepreneurs are constantly asking how their product or service can better serve their customers. When an entrepreneur is focused on what’s in it for him, he loses sight of his customer’s needs. This lack of focus leads to less innovation and deterioration of the business. Shedding your self-focus. Studying how you can improve your customer’s life will lead to business growth.
4. Their negativity.
Negativity is contagious. It affects your employees and your customers. No situation has ever been made better by adding negativity. Creating an environment of positivity will lead to more sales, happier employees and a thriving business. Entrepreneurs must shed their negativity to be the leaders their companies need them to be.
5. Their complacency.
Complacency leads to diminished or missed opportunities. There is no such thing as perfect timing. You will never have everything in place. There will never be a time when your business could not use improvement. The best time to take action is now. For entrepreneurs to reach their full potential, they must take action, and shed their complacency.
6. Their unwillingness to change.
The first digital camera was invented by Steven J. Sasson, an electrical engineer at Eastman Kodak. The reaction from management was, “That’s cute – but don’t tell anyone about it.” Kodak was originally founded in 1888 and had thrived for over 100 years. The unwillingness of Eastman Kodak to change their business from film sales led them to be overcome by digital competition. They filed bankruptcy in January of 2012.
The business environment is changing faster than ever. The systems and practices that brought your business to its current level will not be the ones that take you to the next level. An unwillingness to change is a death sentence for businesses. Shedding an unwillingness to change will open new doors for future growth.
7. Their fear.
Fear keeps you from boldly taking action. It tells you to play small and to play it safe. Fear prevents the entrepreneur from taking calculated risks, and it is the anchor that holds entrepreneurs back from transforming good businesses into great businesses.
The ability to shed your fears will give you the power to turn your dream business into reality. The key to growth is new ideas, innovation and new ways of doing business. This begins by removing old attitudes, so there is room for the new. To reach a new rung on the ladder of success, you must let go of the one you are holding onto — and reach up. There is no better time than right now for you to let go and to reach up.
Photo: Flickr/ Ania Krawet
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.