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The seven deadly sins of business that you must avoid to be a success


In the words of Heidi Klum – in fashion one day you’re in and the next you’re out …

The same apply for businesses. One day you’re successful and, the next day, it’s a whole different story.

Over the past twelve months Australia has witnessed the failure of institutions that no one predicted were likely to topple; Australian Music Group Holdings, Queensland-based audio-visual retailer, WOW Sight and Sound and Norsk Hydro in the NSW Hunter Valley, to name just a few.

Other strong enterprises, new and established have failed despite being in industries where customer demand is growing.

If seemingly strong and competitive businesses are vulnerable to failure, it is crucial to understand what makes a successful business.

I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks, just what it takes to make a business successful. Running businesses in the same way as we always have simply doesn’t work in the current environment.

The question every business owner should be asking is: how do we get our businesses to reaps the rewards of success? It’s simple. Avoid these seven deadly business sins.

1. Poor communication

Your team and the people around you are not clairvoyant; you must always communicate.

A business owner must not only communicate the vision of the business, but also the expected highs and the lows. Consider the following examples of good business communication.

  • If you are challenged by a behaviour, talk to the perpetrator.
  • If someone does a great job, celebrate with them.
  • Acknowledge the special moments in the life of team members. I give birthday presents to all of my team on their birthday.
  • Have the conversations – the tough ones and the good ones.

And, if you are an employee, the same goes for you as well. Always communicate with your employer. Don’t leave them to second guess what the problem may be. Most of us are not wanting a resignation, which is often the result of non-communication. We just want you to talk to us! Try it: you will be surprised at the outcomes.

2. Denying accountability

Yep, it is your fault! The buck stops with you.

If it doesn’t work or something goes horribly wrong, step up to the plate and take ownership. There is nothing wrong with stuffing up; especially if you only go there once. It’s when it happens again and again that it is a problem.

So, stop looking for scapegoats. Accept accountability and look at how you move on from it.

Your team are not to blame and, let’s face it they can only be as good as the environment that you create. So, get on and fix the problem rather than looking for someone to blame.

3. Being a time waster

Efficiency lacks from so many operations and people’s lives. Use the 80/20 rule to combat this.

Only twenty per cent of the stuff that happens in a day, needs to happen in an immediate time frame. Identify it and action it. Don’t be one of those ‘gonna do’ business people that are always behind and, always promising to get back to people.

It’s a fact that we are all busy. Just get on and do the job.

Do not be distracted by the stuff that is not a priority and, stop letting people and your operation down.

Introduce a discipline into your life and, learn to love it!

4. You’ve stopped loving what you do

You can never be good at something if you don’t love it. So, if you have fallen out of love with your business, get out. Or, at the very least, make a change.

To continue on is to severely disadvantage your operation and your health. We are put on this planet for a short time, so start to look for something that you love to do.

You owe it to yourself as well as your business. To continue on doing something that you don’t love, is to promote mediocrity and no one deserves that!

5. You’ve stopped taking risks

Life and business are about risk. If you don’t try you will never know.

Failure is the foundation of success. In fact, there is no growth without failure.

People and companies need to fail to grow. You need to try something or, do something, differently.

6. You’ve let integrity disappear from your business

Living a great life or, building a great business is about three things: passion, discipline and integrity.

Really. It’s that simple. That’s all you need.

If the integrity goes, the model erodes. There will always be at least 15 per cent of the people out there who don’t agree with where your business is heading.

But, if you choose to focus on the 85 percent that agree with you, you can move forward.

Do not let others sway your decisions and choices. Trust that you can and will make good decisions and, as long as they come from the heart they will always be made with good integrity.

So, stop caring about what others think! It is debilitating.

7. You don’t pay it forward

Take the focus off yourself. Look at how you can take the knowledge and skills that you have acquired and pay it forward.

Resolve to help others evolve. To help others is simply about giving time and, in doing so, there will always be lessons and opportunities that arise.

Don’t become so time poor that you stop looking outwards.

Annah Stretton is a New Zealand based fashion designer. She passionately creates two designer collections each season (Annah Stretton and Annah.S) under the umbrella of the Stretton Group. In 2005, Stretton established the publishing arm of the company that has grown from the initial purchase of Her Magazine to annual publications of Who’s Who and Pink magazine. Annah’s boundless energy also allows her to continue to be actively involved in a huge number of philanthropic endeavours and nurture projects. In 2008, Annah became a Member of New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Fashion, Business and the Community. Following on from this recognition, Stretton became the 2009 New Zealand recipient of the Veuve Clicquot Award.

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