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Seven Dirty Little Sins That Stop Owners from Getting Their Business to the Next Level

Are you guilty of the 7 sins that hold your business back?  Many business owners are!  Read on to see if you are avoiding these pitfalls…

Sin #1 – Working “in” your business instead of “on” your business

Many business owners are consumed by the phone ringing or the next crisis, and worse than that, many owners feel lost or not in control unless they are “handling things”.  If you analyze the things you do in an average day, are you working in your business?  Are you spending all your time handling the next crisis?  Do employees line up at your door to get your decision on things?

Sin #2 – Failing to create a marketing plan

Many business owners send their sales people off to generate sales, without focusing or controlling their efforts.  The result?  Sales people are inefficient and will “spin their wheels” on customers or projects where there is little hope of success.  Look at the market and types of customers you have now, and then define the markets and type of customers that would like to have in the future.  Now support the sales people with training specific to the customers and markets, do advertising focused on those areas and watch the business grow!

Sin #3 – Failing to differentiate yourself in the market

It has been said there are really only two competitive strategies; low cost and differentiated.  Most small businesses will not be able to achieve the lowest costs in the market, so that leaves only one strategy for the vast percentage of small business owner…differentiate or die.  Of course having a bunch of unique differentiators for the business doesn’t do you any good if those benefits are no communicated clearly and concisely to potential customers.

Sin #4 – Failing to implement systems

Businesses as they grow require defined system in order that the outcomes are controlled and predictable.  Unfortunately many small business owners do not take the time to systemize their business.  The results?  First of all, see sin #1…they are consumed by the business and the people cannot make decisions without them.  Second, the results can be haphazard or unpredictable, service level may vary widely depending on who is answering the phone.  Consider the acronym S-Y-S-T-E-M (Save Yourself, Stress, Time, Energy and Money) to understand the benefits of systems.

Sin #5 – Failing to measure results

A wise person once said, “What gets measured gets done”.  Make sure you are measuring the results as objectively as possible.

Sin #6 – Failing to delegate effectively

Many owners and managers like to control things.  In fact, this can be one of the major reasons the owner went into business in the first place, to control his own destiny.  However, many times control results in the owner failing to delegate.  The result?  You get busier and busier.  Soon you are working 60 hours per week and there is never enough time to get everything done.

Sin #7 – Failing to hold people responsible

In order to effectively hold people accountable for their results, it is extremely important that you set the proper expectations in a clear and concise manner.  Of course this requires that you avoid the two sins above!  It is then important to have periodic reviews of the results and communicate with the employee about their effectiveness.  This is best accomplished by asking the empoyee to report on their progress, and identify the areas where they are having difficulty or need assistance.


Stay focused and make progress every day on something that moves you forward on a sustainable path.  Do these changes come easy?  Of course not.  If it were easy, you would have done it already.  However, once your plan gains some momentum you will be amazed at the results.

A Word About Using This Report

In order to get value from this report you will need to do the action items and implement the strategies in your business environment, and sometimes this can be challenging.  You will need to be persistent and diligent in your follow-up.  You won’t get any positive results unless you take action on the information and strategies outlined!

About the Author

Mr. Ray Smalley is a veteran CEO who works with owners and managers who are frustrated with their business performance.   He is a specialist in business troubleshooting and strategy.

He has led the management team for companies that include manufacturing, technology, service and construction, from $3 to $50 million in sales.  In each case, he achieved outstanding increases in sales and profits in very mature or declining markets, including turnaround situations.  He is able to provide leadership for all levels of the organization and effectively manage change.

Mr. Smalley graduated with the top award in his engineering class and graduated from Honeywell’s internal Executive Management Program presented by Harvard Business School.

(c) 2013 Ray Smalley, VenPlan LLC  All rights reserved.

The contents of this paper are copyrighted and, as such, may be used for personal use only.  Duplication and/or commercial use of this material is expressly prohibited without written permission of the author.




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