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The 5 Deadly Sins of Business

Part of being in business means that we’re always testing new ideas, experimenting and yes – making mistakes.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we all strive to buy a high learning curve position and to reduce the number of mistakes we make.

There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes; the only issue is if we don’t learn from them.

Critical Business Sins

Mistakes will be made, and that’s ok, but there are a few critical sins in business that can and should be avoided if possible.

Below is a list of the five key sins that can be deadly for your business.

Recognizing and avoiding these sins will help you grow and develop your company, it will help you reduce your risk, increase your chances of success and most importantly enable you to have more fun while operating a business.

The 5 deadly sins of business

1. We commit the sin of the inaccurate assumption

We all make assumptions on a day-to-day basis, and that’s human nature.

The issue arises when we make assumptions within a business context that can have disastrous results.

It’s essential that we continuously test our assumptions on a regular basis. What may have been true in the past may not be true in the future, and with technology moving at such a rapid rate, we need to be constantly adapting.

By not seeking feedback or validating our concepts, we can head down the path of mediocrity.

Case in point, I was working with a client one day, and we were identifying the top and bottom 20% of his customers.

I asked as I always do, how much does it cost to service each client? The response was “$400 per month”.

I said “fine, and how much do the smaller clients pay you each month?”

The response was “$250 per month”. I looked at the person puzzled and said, “Wait, you charge them $250 per month, but it costs you $400 to service them, is that right?”

He looked at me begrudgingly and said: “Yes, but the smaller clients turn into bigger clients!”

My response was “Okay,

Let’s check all the big clients and see how many of those started off as small clients.”

By this stage, the client was reeling and becoming very defensive.

Sure enough, when we checked, all of the big clients had started out as big clients, and none of the small clients had turned into big clients.

This means it would have been cheaper for the company just to write out a cheque for $150 per month to the smaller clients and have done none of the work!

This assumption had cost the company over 1 million dollars over a 10-year period.

No one had thought to check the assumption of whether or not small clients turn into large clients, or if in fact, it was worthwhile engaging with small clients in the first place.

2. We fail to see our business as a series of processes and systems that must be in writing

As it turns out only 4% of companies have systems and in place.

Funnily enough, only 4% of businesses do over a million dollars a year and turn over.

This strong correlation indicates that business that have systems and processes in place do far better than those they don’t.

More evidence can be seen if we look at franchises and chain stores. These companies all have strong systems and processes in place. When someone buys a franchise, what they’re buying is a proven set of systems and processes that will ensure their business succeeds.

As a business owner, do you have systems and processes in place? Especially for the ten most common tasks in your company?

The reason why businesses and systems are so important for companies is that they provide accuracy and consistent outcomes.

This is great for managing customers’ expectations and experience, but it’s also valuable for your employees.

Employees need to know what the process is for each task, if they don’t have these systems and processes, then they’ll make it up themselves. A lack of systems and processes all result in low productivity, confusion, mistakes, errors, and generally low levels of workplace happiness.


Click below to download a free flowchart maker to help with your systems and processes:

Download Your Free Business Tool


3. We spend too much time on low-value tasks

As mentioned in an earlier article, many business owners spend more time than they should on tasks that will have little or no impact on growing their business.

Click here to read more about the Essential vs. Growth Activities in Business article.

In business, there are often only a few core tasks that will help drive growth. If you’re not focused on those tasks, you can end up been busy all day every day running around putting out fires and solving small issues.

As business owners, there are an endless array of distractions that can suck time from us. Controlling how we use our time is really important.

Business owners often like to engage themselves in tasks that are emotionally safe. These are frequent tasks that we are very familiar with or enjoy doing. Now there’s nothing wrong with doing things that you enjoy doing, but often the significant gains are made from doing things outside our comfort zone or tasks that are going to have a considerable impact to your business’s growth.

To outline this concept further, below is a table that illustrates the above example.

How effectively do you use your time

What you can do about it?

If you would like to improve how you use your time, follow this easy exercise.

Before you start:

Download the free Time Analysis Exercise.


Click below to download your free Time Analysis Exercise:

Download Your Free Business Tool


Step 1:

Record the tasks that you are completing every 15 minutes.

For an 8-hour day, this will require you to fill in 32 slots, where you record what you have done.

This needs to be continued over one week.

In total, you should have 160 x 15-minute slots where you have recorded the tasks you were working on.

Step 2:

Break your tasks up into three sections.

  • Tasks that can be done, but offer little or low value.
  • Tasks that are essential business to your business
  • Tasks that directly impact the growth and development of your business.

Step 3 (Complete step 3 at the end f each day):

Score each tasks using the key below:

  • Can be done tasks = 1 Point
  • Essential tasks = 3 Points
  • Growth tasks = 6 Points

Use the dropdown menu to add a score next to each of the 160 x 15-minute slots.

Step 4:

Once you have done that, you can now analyze how you use your time.

The template will automatically calculate your total score.

Check your results:

  • 160 – 360 = Poor
  • 361 – 560 = Moderate
  • 561 – 760 = Good
  • 761 – 960 = Amazing

On completion of this, you’ll now have a much better understanding of how you use your time throughout the week, and how you can better use your time to grow and develop your company.

4. We don’t hire superstars, then delegate everything so we can plan and think

Many business owners and especially those that have started businesses from scratch, often have ideas that nobody can do the job as well as they can.

This is entirely not true and is a limiting belief. Often this belief becomes apparent when business owners micromanage their employees.

The role of the business owner is to think, plan and develop the company; it’s not to get involved and every minute aspect of the business.

Avoid low-value tasks

As discussed earlier there are three types of tasks 1 Low Value, 2 Essential and 3 Growth.

All low level and essential tasks should ideally be done by employees or outsourced.

This gives you the best opportunity to work on high-value tasks that are going to have the greatest impact on your business.

Tasks that require specific skill sets

Another issue that some business owners have is they like to do everything themselves.

If there are tasks that need to be actioned in the business, which require specific skill sets, rather than trying to break your head on it yourself, why not get someone in who is an expert in that area and has done it 100 times before.

Many times, I’ve seen business owners work on projects that have taken up months of their time when they could have gotten someone else to do the job and had it completed within a week, and with a much better result.

In business, speed is the key!

Empty your plate

As discussed previously, the role of the business owner is to think, grow and develop the company. To do this, you need time to think and plan.

Whenever a new task comes into the business, the first question you need to ask yourself is ” who is going to do this task.”

I support the approach of bottom-up delegation. This means that all tasks and duties within the business are given to the lowest level of employees within the business. They do what they can within their responsibility level, from there anything they can’t do is pushed up to the person above them.

This means by the time tasks come across the owner’s desk, they are of the highest importance and value.

Bottom up delegation

To make this easier, it begins with recruiting right, great employee inductions, and continuous staff training. This should be supported by KPI’s for each role.

5. We don’t seek advice from those who will tell us the truth

Business owners sometimes fail to seek advice from those who will be honest with them. This is understandable as some entrepreneurs link their identity to the business, and by default critiquing their business is the same thing as criticizing them personally.

In order to grow, business owners must seek the truth; they must be open and honest about the business and themselves.

Becoming comfortable and surrounding yourself with people that will agree with you is the road to mediocrity. Business owners need to be continually challenging their ideas, thoughts, and assumptions.

Often, it’s front line staff and employees who have some of the best insight to give, but in order to give higherups advice, you usually have to ask them. Create an environment that promotes constant feedback in an honest and authentic way. Ensure employees at all levels can provide input that will help develop your company.

In conclusion,

Developing a business is hard work. But by recognizing some of the five deadly sins of business, you can improve your company and avoid issues before they arise.

Business is about driving results. Park the ego at the door. Focus on what the goal is.

What are some mistakes you’ve made in business? Comment below.

Motivational Quotes to Inspire Success in Your Business

We know that life as a business owner can be very demanding. It’s filled with continuous challenges, most of which you have to battle alone, but knowing you’re on a path that has been walked before by others who have been successful can be motivating.

We’ve put together our favorite quotes from business gurus, leaders and people who have inspired us with their amazing life stories.

We hope this helps you on your own personal journey to becoming the best entrepreneur you can be.

Click here to see: Over 1,200 motivtional quotes for business owners and entrepreneurs.

I don't look to jump over 7-foot bars; I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over

“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars; I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”

 – Warren Buffett

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

 – Mark Twain

I don't believe the most successful people are the ones who got the best grades, got into the best schools, or made the most money

“I don’t believe the most successful people are the ones who got the best grades, got into the best schools, or made the most money.”

 – Ben Stein

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

 – Will Rogers

Don't worry about failure; you only have to be right once

“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”

 – Drew Houston

Business is like poker. You have to be able to read people. You have to understand the odds of a particular endeavor. You need to make calculated bets. And you have to get lucky

“Business is like poker. You have to be able to read people. You have to understand the odds of a particular endeavor. You need to make calculated bets. And you have to get lucky.”

 – Richard Harroch

There are no traffic jams along the extra mile

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

 – Roger Staubach

Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win

“Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win.”

 – Bernadette Devlin

I hate how many people think, glass half- empty when their glass is really four-fifths full. I'm grateful when I have one drop in the glass because I know exactly what to do with it

“I hate how many people think “glass half- empty” when their glass is really four-fifths full. I’m grateful when I have one drop in the glass because I know exactly what to do with it.”

 – Gary Vaynerchuk

Always deliver more than expected

“Always deliver more than expected.”

 – Larry Page

Rich people buy luxuries last, while poor and middle class tend to buy luxuries first

“Rich people buy luxuries last, while poor and middle class tend to buy luxuries first.”

 – Robert Kiyosaki

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

 – Ayn Rand

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

“I have not failed.

I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

 – Tomas Edison

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

 – Eleanor Roosevelt

Try not to become a person of success, but a person of value.

“Try not to become a person of success, but a person of value.”

 – Albert Einstein

Fall seven times and stand up eight

“Fall seven times and stand up eight.”

 – Japanese proverb

Actually, your past successes are your biggest obstacle- every battle, every war, is different, and you cannot assume that what worked before will work today

“Actually, your past successes are your biggest obstacle- every battle, every war, is different, and you cannot assume that what worked before will work today.”

 – Robert Greene

Don't be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.”

 – Grace Hansen

 knew that if I failed I wouldn't regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying

“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.”

 – Jeff Bezos

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

 – Winston Churchill

My first job was washing dishes in the basement of a nursing home for $2.10 an hour, and I learned as much about the value of hard work there as I ever did later

“My first job was washing dishes in the basement of a nursing home for $2.10 an hour, and I learned as much about the value of hard work there as I ever did later.”

– Douglas Preston

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

– Abraham Lincoln

“The wisest mind has something yet to learn.”

– George Santanaya

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

– African proverb

“Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.”

– Oscar Wilde

“Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.”

– Henry A. Kissinger

Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.”

– Napoleon Bonaparte