Top 10 Mistakes Business Owners Make

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Top 10 Mistakes Business Owners Make

Guest post by Kim Stoneking, President of the Vantage Group

Based on surveys and discussions with many coaches and consultants, here is my top 10 list of the most common mistakes made by business owners. These are not in any particular order.

1. Failure to plan: including vision, mission, purpose, values, crucial objectives and tasks – It was Peter Drucker who said, “strategy comes before structure,” but many business owners do not follow this advice. A well built business plan provides a road map and strategy for reaching greater profitability and success.

2. Seeking the quick fix – fast track transformation is a pipe dream. Greater decisiveness, increased focus, leadership development, and more are key components of moving your business forward, but it won’t happen overnight.

3. Failure to recognize and resolve the constrains that prevent the organization from reaching its goals – Missing goals is often symptomatic of other areas of concern. Don’t ignore the problem. Recognize, identify and resolve the constraints that are in your way.

4. Not having a means to see and react to changes in their industry – Enough said. Be a leader. Make it a priority to work in your business and to stay up on industry trends.

5. Keeping a clear vision of the future while watching the present – Vision defines the future you want for your business. As many as 70% of US workers report that they are unsure of the vision of their CEO. Take Stephen Covey’s advice and avoid complacency. Don’t ignore the past, but constantly strive to reinvent the future.

6. Not understanding their customers well enough – Grab a cold beverage, close your door, gather your leadership team together and kick around this question: if we were building a business that would lure away our loyal customers, what would it look like? Communicate with your customers. Why do they do business with you and what do they value?

7. Communication with employees – Communication is one of the key solutions to employee engagement. Blow up the traditional evaluation process and maintain a constant flow of communication with your employees.

8. Micromanaging under stress – Resist the temptation in tough stressful times to increase the micomanagement of staff. Rely on communication that is accountability focused instead. In other words…touch eveything, but leave no fingerprints.

9. Lack of delegation and follow-up – This is a common mistake and a difficult one to fix. As a certified coach, I often face this issue with a client, and key to the solution is helping the business owner to define why delegation is a problem in the first place. This often requires a shift in attitude.

10. Not having an advisory board and/or a coach – Sounds self serving, but the coaching relationship is unlike any other relationship that exist. It can be life changing. A coach is that someone who is there in the corner for you, serving as a mirror as you work through the challenges of balancing a successful professional and personal life.


With more than 20 years of CEO experience and as a Certified Business Coach, Kim B. Stoneking is a proven leader, respected member of the business community, experienced facilitator and speaker. As the president of the Vantage Group, Kim works with leaders and their teams to accelerate business and personal results. This post was originally published on the Vantage Group blog. 

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