4 bad habits that hinder startup growth

business growth growth journey leadership Dec 17, 2022

“Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.” ―Sean Covey

Scroll through any main blog or business website nowadays, and you’re sure to find at least one article (if not many more) on habits. 

Use these habits of multimillionaires to supercharge your growth!

Build these habits to take your business from $0 to $1 million FAST!

And more — you’ve seen them; I’ve seen them. They are EVERYWHERE. And while no, it is not likely that you’ll instantly propel your business to the next level by mimicking someone else’s habits, the truth is that habits are extremely important.

The right habits can help you growth. The wrong habits can hold you back. 

Some of your habits work for you, and will help you grow your business. Those same habits may not help a different person at all. And that’s okay. 

But, while each entrepreneur and startup journey is unique, I have definitely seen some consistent trends among BAD habits in startups and clients. Universally, there are bad habits every startup and entrepreneur should avoid. 

These habits will absolutely hold you back, and could have a seriously negative impact if allowed to fester in the long run. A lot of experts point out that it’s easier to build good habits than it is to break bad ones. I’m going to share four of the most common bad habits I’ve seen that hinder startup growth here, in hopes that you haven’t stumbled across any of them yet and can avoid them. 

But, if you have fallen into some of these bad habits, all is not lost! Focus on rebuilding them as good habits instead (and if you need an extra hand, I can help).  

The bad habits your startup should definitely avoid

Here are four of the worst habits you and your startup should avoid (or overcome):

1. Moving forward without clear goals or objectives

I’ve seen and have met with many startups over the years that have a loose plan in place, but ultimately hope to “learn as they go” and are essentially winging it in many ways. Growth = good, right? 

Well, not exactly. I coach my startup clients to focus on setting clear goals and objectives as their number one priority. A vast majority of startups fail to do this (or do it correctly). 

Put simply, it’s nearly impossible to build a plan if you aren’t quite sure where you want to go.

Here’s an example of how clear goals can help define your plan:  

Rather than simply focusing on “growth,” let’s say you decide that an achievable goal is to grow your startup by $1 million this year. 

It becomes a simple process of working backwards from that goal. If your average deal size is $15k, for example, that means you need to sell an additional 40 deals this year. 

But wait, is 40 additional deals too many based on your resources? What happens if you grow your average deal by $10k? Can you reduce client churn? 

See where this is going? Without that concrete goal in mind, it’s extremely difficult to get your organization aligned and on a clear path. 

With a clear goal (a SMART goal, if you will), it’s difficult to track key metrics and measure progress. Yes, I understand this sounds ridiculously simple. Because it is. Yet, SO many startups fail to do it. It’s easily overlooked with the myriad of decisions and priorities startups and entrepreneurs face. 

2. Chasing every dollar

I know how tempting it is to go after any and every potential customer in the early days of your startup. Increase revenue and you can streamline, niche down and otherwise define your company and your product after the fact, right? 

No, no quite. 

Instead of going after every dollar and every possible customer, take the time to niche down and get REALLY good within your niche. While occasionally it is normal to land customers that fall outside that niche, keep in mind that every deal that is not in your niche you lose assets and resources outside of your sweet spot. For more on niching down at this part of the process, check out this post on defining your ideal customer

Yes, your startup may pivot as you see customers react differently, and this may send you in a slightly different direction. That is okay, and even expected. The key is to niche down, get really good, and then expand into other markets or verticals that are having the same problems that you solved initially within your niche.

3. Trying to “hack” your way to growth

Startup success stories do NOT start with hacks. They just don’t. In fact, trying to propel your startup forward with this “strategy” will you put in a race to the bottom. 

I can understand why founders fall into this trap. You want the fast track to success. Leapfrogging a few steps along the way means a shorter distance to growth (and $$$). 

Here’s the thing: They’re called “hacks” for a reason. They’re not sustainable. Even if you do end up with a quick lift, they almost always end up costing you more in the long run. Backtracking and filling in gaps in order to create sustainable growth can misalign resources and pull you from your core mission. It gets sloppy and messy and it doesn’t end well. 

Plus, you’ll find that a majority of hacks out there fall into the marketing or demand generation space. These involve tactics that are questionable at best. It could be the “influencer” that claims they can get you 1000s of followers, or the SEO company that promises a top 3 listing on Google in a week.  Warning bells should be ringing loudly if you find yourself on the receiving end of such promises (and especially if you’re considering them).

4. Implementing technologies without defining desired outcomes

Yes, I’m coming back to defining goals and outcomes. Without them, it’s impossible to measure effectively and determine what is delivering acceptable or ideal ROI. This is especially true with technology. 

There is a SaaS solution for just about every “problem” facing startups today. But here’s the thing: Technology does not solve problems. 

I repeat: Technology does not solve problems. 

Good process solves problems.  Technology can help automate the processes. And this is very powerful. But if you’re counting on technology to solve your problems, you’re not going to get the end result you’re hoping for with that big spend. 

I get the allure. Technology is sexy. Having the latest CRM or other cloud platform seems to empower your team. In a way, implementing technology with the wrong goals or at the wrong time is almost like another hack — you’re trying to shortcut your way to success.

Success is in the details. 

It’s in putting the time, effort and resources into defining and establishing goals, outcomes and processes, so that as your startup grows and succeeds, it has the strongest possible foundation to help facilitate that growth. 

For insights on building WOM (word of mouth) marketing and starting from 0 to build a sustainable business, check out this episode of Hardwired for Growth, featuring Bill Bice, CEO of boomtime.