Are you sabotaging your own business?

Being a one-person operation can lead to overwork and refusing to bring in extra help can cause problems further down the line

Person with man bun has a planty bills to pay.
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I was sitting opposite my friend, one Eid, years ago, crying my eyes out, thinking that my business was coming to an end.

My finances weren’t doing well, and I was lost in a dark place, not knowing what to do. It was then, that my friend snapped me out of my misery, and shook me with the truth that no one likes to hear: I was the reason I was stuck in this situation. It was true. I overworked myself, and refused to hire any extra help, thinking that I would be able to do it all.

It took a while for my business to stand on its feet again, but I realised a lot of entrepreneurs were in similar situations, and could also be sabotaging their businesses unknowingly.

Here are three ways you could be sabotaging your business:

When you think you can do it all

I’m multi-talented, and I know that I could juggle so many tasks with a smile plastered on my face. I thought that if I was “physically” able to do it, then I didn’t need to ask for help. Perhaps deep down I thought that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Only when my business was on the verge of collapsing did I realise that I had to ask for help. Asking for help relieved me in so many ways. I outsourced the admin tasks that ate up most of my day; this meant I was then able to focus on the important stuff such as marketing, and strategising. Before, I was so caught up with admin work, that I was only able to focus on critical issues on weekends, when I’m supposed to be relaxing my mind and catering to my friends and family. So, you could imagine how that delayed my business’s growth. Ask for help. Reasonably priced virtual assistant options are available online and they won’t break your bank. You could even ask a family member to help out if relevant, or work with interns on special projects.

Not planning your finances

When I started my fashion business straight out of university, I didn’t plan my finances for the first few months. I bought material, and misplaced receipts. Soon, I discovered that I was running out of cash, and I had to take accounting seriously. I knew I wasn’t the only one guilty of that. Many freelancers and solo entrepreneurs don’t plan their finances, because they aren’t financially obligated to staff, and believe that they could keep track of things. Don’t fall into that trap. You don’t need to hire a savvy accountant. A simple spreadsheet will do, and many templates are available online for free to help you with that. Plan ahead, and set your budgets, so that you don’t overspend. Also, never use your business finances for your personal spending. It’s best to have separate business accounts to prevent that from occurring.

Not taking a break

You know how you sometimes see a person typing away on their laptop for the whole day while on the beach, in a tropical location? I was that person, especially on Eid. I used to stare at my screen more than I enjoyed my view. Work was my travel companion. In fact, sometimes even my clients couldn’t tell if I was on holiday because I was always there for them. I was that person on their phone in a restaurant while their friends chatted over their head. I ate without really tasting the food. You may think that it’s fine to do that, because you’re technically on a break. But that’s just the same as staying in the office and working. Taking a break isn’t about changing your location but also about giving your brain room to relax. How will creativity flourish if you’re constantly overworking that poor brain of yours? Hear it from me, I got my best ideas for my business and life when I was on a break. Only when I truly cleared my mind, that I was able to excel and take my business forward.

No one likes to hear that they are sabotaging their own business, but we sometimes are. Keeping that in mind, will help prevent that from happening. Wishing you and your families Eid Mubarak.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.