5 Bad Habits Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

By Greg DePersio

Entrepreneurship can be the key to living life on your own terms. When you run your own business, you call the shots and report to no one but yourself. The idea of having no boss sounds alluring, but as an entrepreneur, it is important to remember that you actually do have a boss: yourself. Moreover, if you want your business to succeed, you often have to be an even tougher boss than the one at your old nine-to-five.

When you become your own boss, the most important thing you must force yourself to do is get into good entrepreneurial habits and avoid bad ones.

Failure to Plan

The notion that failing to plan means planning to fail is more than an old cliché. An entrepreneur must dispense with the idea that he has the autonomy to spend his days doing whatever he sees fit at the time. The most successful entrepreneurs have days and weeks that are structured as explicitly as any office employee.

As well as planning your time, you have to plan your business. Having a viable business plan before you take the entrepreneurial plunge is paramount. Set easily defined, easily quantifiable benchmarks you can track at regular intervals, and hold yourself accountable for meeting them.

Bad Associations

Equally alluring as going into business for yourself is going into business with a friend or relative. Few ideas are more exciting than that of taking a shared passion and working together to turn it into your life's work.

Unfortunately, bad partnerships rank high atop the list of issues that cause fledgling small business to fail. Choose your associates carefully. It is much more auspicious to have a partner who shares your vision and whose ideas and skills complement yours than a partner who is your best friend, you enjoy being around but who brings little to the table as far as advancing your business.

Unrealistic Expectations

Many people start businesses with the absurd notion they will be self-made millionaires, or at least financially independent, within the first few months. Reality bears little resemblance to this fallacious idea.

Frequently, small businesses that end up being rousing successes take a year or more before they even turn a profit or recoup the capital used for the launch. By studying your industry closely, you can make much more accurate and realistic projections as to the revenues you can expect your business to generate during the early months and years.


Sometimes, new business owners are so eager to storm onto the scene and steal customers from their competitors that they make promises that are difficult to keep.

Exercise some humility, and understand others have been doing this longer than you. If the things you are considering promising were as easy as you make them sound, your competitors would likely be doing them already.

Don't make bold promises. Instead, win loyal customers by building relationships, taking pride in your work and overdelivering on the realistic promises you do make.

Lack of Work-Life Balance

One of the biggest reasons people become entrepreneurs is to escape the nine-to-five rat race. As a business owner, you have the flexibility to set your schedule and work when you want.

This autonomy sounds like a dream. However, for many entrepreneurs it becomes a nightmare, because they are unable to set boundaries between work time and play time. As a result, relationships and friendships suffer, and hobbies fall by the wayside.

Entrepreneurship is hard work, and it frequently takes up more than 40 hours per week. Preserve your sanity by setting aside specific hours every day when you disconnect from work entirely and focus on friends, family and hobbies.