6 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Business and Tips to Stop Now

Frustrated woman sabotaging her business

Business self-sabotage is the realest.

It often happens when your very genius and logical mind decides to take a backseat and let the mother-in-law version of your brain take the wheel. It’s judgmental, erratic, and smells like musky perfume. If your mother-in-law is a lovely human, then let’s take another approach—that critical inner voice that’s always saying, “you can’t do this,” is now the captain of this ship. How do you know it’s taken control? You are more than likely engaging in self-limiting behavior that keeps you from attaining your most brilliant lifelong dreams.

Instead of ordering the egg white frittata, you’ve decided on the triple meat breakfast burrito that’s the size of a small child. Instead of choosing to walk, you’ve decided to take a Lyft to the farmer’s market that’s only three blocks away. Instead of doing your taxes, you’ve decided to level-up your beauty regimen with a few hundred dollars in clay masks. Not only are you self-sabotaging your personal life, but you could also be sabotaging your business. Now, let’s get to the root of it.

Why Do I Self-sabotage My Business (and My Life)?

To a certain degree, everyone self-sabotages. It happens, and sometimes you don’t even know it’s happening. The solution is to recognize these behaviors, acknowledge them, and shift our mindset to ensure that we don’t continue those negative patterns. There is a myriad of reasons why you’re sabotaging your life and business, your relationships, your vacation, your batch of blonde brownies.

Fear Itself

Truth be told, human beings are hardwired to protect themselves. Stepping outside of our comfort zones can be genuinely terrifying—doing so requires stretching, growing, and engaging with the unknown. When we engage with what we fear, all of the alarms go off and signal us to “run for your life and don’t look back.” Being faced with fear can overwhelm our systems, and we start venturing into every negative outcome possible. If I go on this date, this person will reject me, and then I’ll die. If I start this diet, I’ll just get fatter, and then I’ll die. If I look at my finances, I’ll realize I’m failing, and then I’ll die. When the risks are too significant, we decide the risk isn’t worth the reward. As a result, we end up playing small and getting stuck (the ultimate in business self-sabotage). So how do you get over the fear? Well, you gotta’ face it. Be open and honest with yourself so you can bring awareness to these fears and notice what’s going on. When you do the inner work and focus on your goals, you start to expand and realize that the monster under the bed was only a pair of dirty underwear.

Not Worth It

Naturally, when we don’t feel like we are deserving of success or happiness, we will self-sabotage in business and other areas of life. In an ironic twist, there are tons of highly driven people because they feel like they have to make up for an inadequacy. However, our actions tend to be in sync with our beliefs. People who view themselves as flawed or worthless will be inclined to make the situation worse for themselves—kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Under Control

Entrepreneurs (and most people, for that matter) like to feel a sense of control over their lives. When you’re in control, you may feel safer, vital, and ready to face whatever comes your way. When we don’t feel like we have control over a situation, that’s where the self-sabotage steps into the picture. To stay in control and prevent ourselves from feeling vulnerable, we’ll take control of the failure. That’s right, instead of letting go and have the situation play itself out, we’ll get in the cockpit of a crashing plane. As a small business owner, you could even be gambling with risky business practices to feel more in control. It seems wild, but it happens all the time. At least when you’re going down in flames, you have a handle on the burn.

Sabotaging Your Business Is Bad For Business

You’ve made it to this side of the article–amazing! That means we know you are serious about overcoming business self-sabotage. The truth is, you’re not the same person you were when you first started this post. You’ve evolved, which means the behaviors that once worked for you will no longer do so anymore. You’re probably wondering, how do I tell if I am self-sabotaging my business? Well, it’s kind of complicated. However, we are experts in this field, so we’ve got you covered.

One of the critical methods to figuring that out is to ask yourself some of the more difficult questions. For example, do you find yourself hitting a wall when you reach a certain amount of business or clients? After meeting with your financial advisor, do you intend to attain the next milestone but always put it off? Do you tend to compare yourself to others and believe you’ll never reach their level of success? If you answered yes to any of these, you have probably been sabotaging your success. Let’s dive in.

1. Success

As a small business owner, success is probably at the top of your list of things you want to accomplish (along with world peace). So how is it possible that you are sabotaging yourself against success? This all-too-common behavior is triggered because attaining success can feel threatening. As the bar rises in our careers, self-sabotage in business can occur because we experience the good ole imposter syndrome—you feel like you are a fraud. What is one to do? Get used to feeling uncomfortable so you’ll become more resilient with change. Change your limiting beliefs because you are a glorious unicorn, and we know you are worthy of success.

2. Plan

Remember when we were talking about control? Well, there are effective ways of gaining control in your life. Start small, like creating a budget. Or reach out to a professional so you can scale a badass business with spending audits. Having a plan lets you operate from a place of action and confidence. Also, make sure you are doing what you need to do versus what you want to do. The nuance there is using “should” in your business vernacular. For example, I really “should” make a business plan, or I “should” stock up on coffee filters. Replace that “should” mindset with one that’s excited. Get stoked, moving, thrilled, ecstatic, passionate, delighted, and wild. Turn it up to 11.

3. Procrastination + Perfectionism

Alright, friend, if you are a perfectionist by nature, *raises hand* you may also find yourself to be a procrastinator. What is that all about? Welp, often when we are perfectionists, we are afraid to fail, which ultimately leads to sabotaging your business. Nothing is ever perfect in business; things are always changing and evolving. When you are spending time trying to perfect your business, you’ll ultimately never get anything started. Perfectionism is sooooo evasive. Prioritize tasks and get them done early, so you produce your best work. Too often, the most important tasks are put to the side because they don’t have deadlines. Do it well, get it done, and move on to the next.

4. Multi-tasking

Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels? You have a million things going on, but you just never make any real progress. Multi-tasking can lead to business self-sabotage because increasing responsibilities causes fear. Overwhelm takes over, we feel like we can’t handle it, the stress kicks in, we start happy hour a little early, and nothing gets done. We get it, you’re a small business owner, and you’re going to have to wear many hats. However, if you’ve gotten to a place where you feel chronic stress, you need to build a team for support.

Massively successful people usually have a trusted team that helps them bring their business to fruition. They can optimize your productivity, bring expertise to your company’s areas, and take things to the next level. (FYI – At the same time, you shouldn’t hire too fast, or you will find yourself running out of cash). If you are the type of business owner who lives by the saying, “if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself,” stop. Especially when it comes to finances—you may find yourself ignoring revenue-making opportunities, ignoring your numbers, or ignoring the debt. Intentionally overwhelming yourself is a prime example of sabotaging your business.

5. Cash Flow Management

Many small business owners start blissfully excited because they are ready to share something unique with the world. However, there is so much more to running a business than crafting ceramic vases or crafting new flavored beer. Not taking the time to learn everything you need to know about cash flow can lead to business self-sabotage. How is this relevant, you ask? Not having a handle on cash flow means you lack a financial plan. Make sure you are reaching out to us if you need a professional on your team. Many times, small business owners are afraid to face the reality of their finances. Without budgets and forecasts, you can easily find yourself running out of cash.

6. Financial Records

Small business owners, listen up! *pulls out megaphone* Running a profitable company starts with keeping good records. To manage cash flow, hire more support, create an action plan, and sleep like a baby at night, you need to have comprehensive financial records. Of course, we are more than happy to help *raises the roof* but there are tons of free resources, including automated accounting software. You’ll be able to run reports, understand how profitable you are, prepare for tax season, give your family an island getaway, and avoid sabotaging your business. Win-win-win.

As your finance BFFs, the team at Alchemy Accounting believes that the real regrets in life happen when you’re afraid to make moves (and we’re not just talking about the cha-cha here). Business self-sabotage looks different to each small business owner, but we can all make the mindset shift to become more aware of our decisions. Fortune favors the bold—go ahead and go for the gold. We’ve got your back.

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Michelle Cooper

Michelle Cooper is a powerhouse entrepreneur, CEO of Alchemy Accounting & Bookkeeping, author of Confessions of a Money Rock Star, Your MoneyDate Journal, and co-author of the collaborative book, Women Rising. She has helped many business owners climb out of entrepreneurial poverty into the land of profit.