Management consultant Hilary Briggs has identified seven key mistakes that business owners continue to make – and that often lead to the death of their company:

  1. Doing too much yourself
  2. You don’t know what you don’t know (ie you don’t appreciate your lack of skills and/or knowledge)
  3. Growing too quickly before your model is proven
  4. You haven’t got anyone to bounce ideas off
  5. Bringing in the wrong people
  6. Lack of self-awareness
  7. Staying in the comfort zone


Take a look at each of these areas and ask yourself some tough questions – and be honest!


These seven mistakes relate to two key areas:

  • you as leader of your organisation and
  • the team you – and others – build within your organisation


Planning for what you want


Here are seven suggestions:

  1. Find your focus – A life overhaul is usually unnecessary and unrealistic. Establish priorities by imagining yourself a year from now, happy and fulfilled. How do you spend your time? How is it different from today? Identify the changes that lay a path to the new way and concentrate solely on them.


  1. Speed through the cycle – Gestalt psychiatrist Fritz Perls says that making a change involves moving through four stages: doing, contemplating, planning and experimenting. Choose a place in this cycle to start – then take action. Are you too busy ‘doing’? Take a day off to think. Are you an aimless contemplator? Write a plan.


  1. Break it down – Avoid paralysis by turning your long-term vision into manageable short term goals.


  1. Up the pressure – Share your plan with colleagues, friends and family and ask them to keep tabs on your progress. Failure is not so acceptable when your pride is at stake.


  1. Remember why – Whether it’s the impulses you’re now satisfying, the strengths you’re building or the passions you’re exploring, there are reasons for you making a change. When the going gets tough, don’t forget them.


  1. Learn from the greats – Identify people who achieved what you want to achieve and plot your path against theirs. It’s never too late. Colonel Harland Sanders made a new start – and his fortune – at the age of 65. When a motorway development shut his service station, Sanders shunned retirement to secure investment in his fried chicken recipe – and KFC was born.


  1. Think back – Once you’ve settled into the new way, reflect on the lessons learnt. Use this to make future ‘fresh starts’ swift and less stressful.


Impressing your team


You can impress your team, increase your status – and improve your sales – by:

  1. Inspiring people – Think ‘Martin Luther King Junior’. Appeal to people’s emotions by showing them how it could be if only they dared to dream. Your optimism will pull people in.
  2. Sharing your passion – If you can’t find enthusiasm, find an angle. Showing you care brings a topic to life.
  3. Surprising ‘em – Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the table in response to a speech criticizing the Soviet Union’s role in eastern Europe. Unconventional responses to familiar situations get our attention.
  4. Creating empathy – Try speaking at the same volume or pace as your conversation partner, and reflect movement. Be subtle though. You’ll know it’s working when you laugh and they laugh too.
  5. Adding some sparkle – Use words that express emotion (excited, nervous, thrilled); evoke sounds (crash, whoosh, boom) and are descriptive (immerse, shimmering, fierce). Use language to change how people feel, not just what they think.
  6. Captivating your audience – Draw people in with positive comparisons (eg ‘Just like you, Adam’s always coming up with solutions’). A little flattery goes a long way.
  7. Being generous – Give answers that go beyond what’s needed. Interesting people share colours and flavours.
  8. Telling stories – In his victory speech all those years ago, President-elect Barack Obama told how ‘change has come to America’ through the eyes of 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper. He took his audience on her journey. We felt ‘the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress’ that she did. Next time you hear a good story, note it down. It could come in useful one day.


This article – by Bob Little – first appeared in April, on the Development for Trainers’ website, at