Self-Sabotaging Behaviors That Undermine Your Entrepreneurial Success

What stands in the way of several entrepreneurs’ success is not always a lack of money or business opportunities. Sometimes, the most significant roadblock to success is that familiar face looking back at you through the mirror.
People watch entrepreneurs pitching at the denver startup week
Source: Kari Geha Photography
By | 8 min read

“You can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy.” Indeed, what stands in the way of several entrepreneurs’ success is not always a lack of money or business opportunities. Nor is it greedy corporations, a bad economy, dwindling job market or even the unprecedented “black-swan” event of COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes, the most significant roadblock to success is that familiar face looking back at you through the mirror.

“You don’t think you sabotage yourself, do you? Every entrepreneur sabotages him or herself all the time. It’s the nature of the beast, and what a beast it is,” Bob Adams, the founder of the go-to learning platform BusinessTown. Several people unknowingly get in the way of their own success: They may not put in their full effort, stop themselves from leaving their comfort zone, or waste their time with unproductive matters.

“I’m not ready,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll do that when…”, “yeah but…”, “but you need…” – these excuses will lead to self-sabotaging, ultimately resulting in your failure even when you have all the essential resources to succeed.

Self-Sabotaging Ways That May Ruin Your Own Success

As entrepreneurs plateau in their career, it’s easy for them to blame external sources -COVID-19 outbreak, for instance. Yet, there is every possibility that what’s preventing their progress is not (completely) external; rather, the failure lies in internal factors.

If this “rings a bell” to you and your own business, the bad news is that you are getting in your own way in the form of self-sabotaging behaviors. Though, the good news is that those are entirely within your control to change.

#1. Doubting Yourself

Should you take up a habit of telling yourself “I’m not good enough”, you’re accidentally creating a morale-crushing, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Indeed, most of us feel inadequate at times and that’s completely okay; yet, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. Beyond any doubt, nothing leaves a greater impact on your career than the stories you tell yourself. Hence, be always mindful of your words and replace “self-criticism” with supportive “self-talk”.

“I’m not ready” is also another common excuse that a myriad of entrepreneurs do make so as to avoid attempting something new, progressive, let alone disruptive breakthroughs. They “actively” cling to the status quo while resisting changes that have strong potentials to drives them forward.

Actually, “almost no one feels ready for a next step in their life—starting a business, a family, a new job,” shared Susie Moore, Business & Life Coach and founder of the Professional Training & Coaching platform Susie Moore. “They just decide that the desire for it is greater than the discomfort of the shift.” Success stories of several distinguished entrepreneurs have proved a piece of truth that you don’t have to wait to feel desperate to be ready to take a leap: Should you feel the inner stirrings, let’s pay attention – The more they persist, the more ready you are.

Susie Moore at Business Insider office
Source: Susie Moore

No one will believe in you unless you do. After all, whilst the truth is that everyone has doubts, the ones who succeed are those who move past their fears and do things before they’re ready. 

#2. Believing You Know It All & “Throwing Your Weight Around”

Whereas being contrary to those who doubt themselves, know-it-all is not likely to be the ones who succeed.

Expertise and know-how gained through decades of working experience can do wonders for your career progression. Yet, within an ever-evolving and super-competitive business landscape, some of that knowledge comes with a shelf life. And if you think you already know all as well as possess everything you need, you run the risk of quickly becoming an uninformed – and perhaps unnecessary – professional.

Undoubtedly, a sense of progressiveness, together with the ability to adapt and learn, is of primary importance to the survival and growth of your business; thus, always bear in mind that it takes non-stop efforts to foster and maintain your success. Let’s use your curiosity to explore new ground-breaking ideas, insightful information, perspectives, even if they differ from your own. Plus, let’s aim to be a lifelong learner, and you’ll up your knowledge base—and value.

“A lot of people get good at being a casual lifelong learner, but it’s harder to be a deliberate lifelong learner.”

– David Blake, co-author of the new book The Expertise Economy: How the Smartest Companies Use Learning to Engage, Compete, and Succeed.

#3. Wasting Time with Procrastination Tendency

“I’ll do that when…”, so when will it be the day, exactly?

“Many of us like to fantasize that there comes a magical time in our lives when the seas part, harps play, the angels sing… and that’s when you write your novel, approach the person you’ve had a crush on for months,” commented Susie Moore.

With a habit of procrastination, instead of tackling a critical project in a timely manner or actively seek out new opportunities to seize and monetize on, you allow yourself to dawdle to the last minute. As a result, it’s tough to shine when you do not give yourself enough time to fix mistakes or do a thorough job.

Within the tough entrepreneurial world, the last thing you should do is to forget that time is your most valuable asset. If your days bleed into weeks and months, or if you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, it’s high time that you reassessed how and with whom you’re spending your time.

keynote speaker at CommerceNext
Source: Commerce Next

It goes without saying that time is an invaluable and nonrenewable commodity; it will continue to move forward, and you can never get wasted time back. Given that, it’s advisable that you become more and more vigilant about protecting your time by forming boundaries and saying “no” to hanging out with people who “drain” you or interfere rather than helping you to hit the ground running and achieve your goals.

Besides, it’s a “should” to outsource those tasks you dislike, lack the acumen to accomplish, or ones that would occupy too much of your valuable asset so that you can invest your time, orient your efforts as well as leverage your talents to their highest and best use.

#4. Overworking Yourself Instead of Delegating and Allowing Your Business to Scale

From a psychological perspective from Dr. Alice Boyes, Ph.D., the author of the Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit, entrepreneurs self-sabotage at work when they intentionally create stressors or take on far more than you know they can handle.

For some, the idea of delegating, hiring virtual assistants, or expanding your team appears scary since it exhibits the increased responsibility, the fear that you won’t be able to handle it, or due to the desire to keep your business within your control. Whatever the reasons are, it’s sabotaging your business. 

Actually, it’s truly tempting to make attempts to be the hero and do everything yourself – yet, the fact is that no one succeeds in a vacuum. Should you wish to get ahead quickly and solidly, you may be in search of the help of others. At its core, business is powered by people. Your next job, client, or business opportunity is likely to come from someone you know – or someone who someone else knows; given that, it makes sense to establish, expand and cultivate your relationships. With that in mind, it’s essential to focus first on being a great colleague and friend to others, so when you need a favor, introduction, support, or feedback, you can reach out to your “tribe” for help.

Music conference in Nashville
Source: Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Plus, if there’s a particularly vexing area, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of experts and coaches as well as partner with someone whose skill set is complementary to your own so that you could go further.

And when it comes to some entrepreneurs’ inclination of overworking and putting pressure on themselves, “feeling the need for continued stress is simply chronic stress”, according to the wellness coach Elizabeth Scott. With a view to coming up against the habit of intentionally overwhelming yourself, it’s a great idea to embed relaxing activities such as yoga or meditation into your weekly routine. Besides, turning to your family, fellows or other supportive networks may work miracles for your issues, especially when it comes to making you realize your overworking pattern.

In the end, your business deserves the best of you – and you deserve to run a business free from the shackles of the common plague of self-sabotage! 

People in a networking event at Nashville
Source: Nashville Entrepreneur Center

#5. Mindlessly Going Through the Motions

In case you’ve reached the point where your career is on autopilot, chances are that you are doing yourself a disservice. Whilst finding your rhythm is great, coasting is not. Worse is being so wrapped up in the minutiae that you seem to be constantly spinning your wheels but going nowhere

What should be noted is that being busy does not translate into being productive. Until you “pause” long enough to clearly define what you aim to achieve, there is little likelihood that you will progress professionally.

It’s a “must” that you make a conscious decision to combine your attention with your intention. harboring a crystal-clear vision empowers you to align your goals with a plan to accomplish them – and stay away from the things that can disturb or derail you.

#6. Lacking A Strong Sense of Commitment and Patience

Undeniably, you cannot realize your dreams if you are unsure – or only half-way committed to getting where you wish to be. Never assume the climb to success should be easier than it is – in fact, making assumptions of ease of effort will derail your success nearly immediately. Why? Simply because when things end up more challenging than you expect, frustrations and resentments develop that kill your drive.

“There is no greater a success killer than frustration backed by resentment,” stated the psychologist Sherrie Campbell. As already mentioned, to live your purpose, you must know, without a shadow of a doubt, what you truly wish. Beyond that, stunning success requires a deep and dogged commitment to an in-depth and solid plan of action. Having a clear sense of commitment cuts through the confusion and doubt when you tackle hurdles and obstacles on your path to success.

What’s more, without a genuine and unwavering commitment to your biggest purpose, your goals lose their importance and value. A lack of commitment creates delay, chaos, and frustration poisonous to any living goal.

Spotlight speaker at Denver Startup Week
Source: Kari Geha Photography

Besides, it’s important to know that lasting and sustainable success is not based on instant gratification. After all, true success is a dynamic process built upon change, challenge, and growth. And this is when patience, combined with a sense of commitment, comes into place. Patience gives you the determination to stick to a goal despite the odds, helping cultivate persistence, acceptance, and hope. It does empower you to observe the big and small picture granting you a feeling of control over your mind and impulses when things look bleak.

“Patience is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more successful you will become.”

No matter what it takes, if you wish to succeed at elite levels, you must be committed to your goals, be patient throughout the course as well as being willing and able to sacrifice.

Other Self-Sabotaging Habits Wrecking Your Business Relationship

People at backdrop at CommerceNext
Source: Commerce Next

#7.  Being Tardy & Failing to Respond

The best leaders are never the ones who are too busy to respond. Let say, is there anything more annoying than that person who’s always late for meetings, doesn’t answer the phone, and never replies to your emails?

“Even though everyone feels busier than ever, the most effective leaders we have studied all share a similar set of characteristics. One is that they give the people around them their full attention. That means doing simple, respectful things, like finding time at least several times a day to respond to emails, even if it’s a quick, “I’m under water. Can we talk on Thursday?” And most of these leaders have an astounding ability to concentrate on the task at hand,” shared Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick, founders of The Culture Works.

Under no circumstance should you use business as an excuse for neglecting relationships and conversations. One of the simplest yet most super-powerful practices is to set reminders for meetings and make sure you set aside time each day to reply to people who’ve been trying to reach out to you.

#8. Breaking Your Words

It can be easy to get so overexcited about certain projects and underestimate the amount of time, effort or resources required to complete them that you make a promise that you cannot keep. And this emerges as one of the leading “ingredients” of a business disaster.

As stated by Sam Briones, founder of the business networking platform Globial, “One of the fastest ways to ruin a business relationship is to overpromise or overcommit to something, and then under-deliver, or not deliver at all! Of course, acts like these can make for really angry and disappointed business partners who may feel like it is not worth to continue a business relationship with you anymore.”

#9. Trying to Be Someone You’re Not

Beyond any doubt, almost every single entrepreneur wishes to maintain a professional front. Whereas ripped jeans, bad language, poor-taste jokes or crippling shyness probably aren’t going to be appropriate in your professional lives, trying to become someone completely different could be holding you back from making any genuine interactions.

According to Gregory Malouf, author of the Thoughtless series of books, “We all have an intrinsic desire for authentic connections. In an effort to create those connections, sometimes we make ourselves into something we’re not in order to gain acceptance. In the workplace, people may stifle their ideas or go along with something they know is detrimental for fear of standing out, sounding foolish or making a mistake. Conditional relationships based on who we think others want us to be rather than on who we really are counteract authentic connections.”

Understanding that, you should not compromise who you are for the sake of making connections or networking. Although sometimes we need to reel it in so as to leave a professional and positive impression, authenticity is still the key to form solid trust, credibility, and precious relationships.

The bottom line

Countless individuals often struggle with self-sabotaging habits when they have no idea what to expect. Such unknowns can make them feel off-kilter and on unsure footing.

Though, since entrepreneurs are only human beings – not rational creatures, it’s unlikely that they totally eliminate self-sabotaging behaviors. Notwithstanding that, should they just erase or cut down on some of the worst and most damaging behaviors, they could make the cut and send their business performance through the roof.

  • As a Market Strategy Analyst, Kaley is passionate about strategically matching individuals and organizations with unique outsourcing solutions ranging from ecommerce, healthcare to hospitality and travel. Having gained working experience…