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5 Small Business Decisions Usually Made Too Late

5 Small Business Decisions Usually Made Too Late

The business world moves fast and as an entrepreneur, it’s critical to make decisions quickly. Unfortunately, the majority of businesses fail within the first few years. According to Forbes, 90% of startups will fail. In many cases, business failure is due to the owner waiting too long to make decisions. They often act in a reactive manner instead of a proactive one. While it is common to fail in business, that does not have to be your fate. Here are five of the most common small business decisions that are usually made too late.

1. Scaling Up

One of the problems that many entrepreneurs have is knowing when they need to scale up. They are selling the product well and things seem to be going fine, but they wait too long to pull the trigger on scaling their business up. Instead of hiring more employees or getting a bigger facility, they try to do things the way they’ve always done them. Although it is admirable to try and not rush into things too quickly, knowing when to scale things up a notch is critical. In many cases, you might be leaving a lot of money on the table if you don’t scale up in time. Another pitfall that comes with not scaling up quick enough is dissatisfied customers. If you don’t have enough employees to support your customer base, they may get upset quickly. At the same time, scaling up too quickly is the most common reason for businesses failing, so don’t do it before you’re ready.

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2. Scaling Down

On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes you need to scale down. In fact, when it’s time to scale down, you’ll probably need to act quickly. In many businesses, something fundamental changes and the market isn’t the same as it was before. You can let that change in the market bankrupt you, or you can adapt and scale down. No one wants to be the bad guy and fire a bunch of employees. However, sometimes, it makes sense to cut some overhead and live to fight another day. It’ll be better to lose a few employees and stay in business than it will be to completely lose the business.

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3. Not Buying Liability Insurance

As a business owner, you’re open to a great deal of liability. You never know what could happen through the course of running your business and having a sufficient amount of liability insurance is essential. Many business owners think they can put it off just a little longer. They try to save pennies on liability insurance premiums, and it ends up costing them a lot more in the long run. If someone is injured on your business property or some other disaster occurs, you could be looking at millions of dollars in damages. No one thinks it will happen to them until it does. Get liability insurance before you need it instead of after it’s too late.

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4. Getting Rid of a Toxic Employee

Business owners often find themselves in a situation where they need to get rid of an employee but for some reason don’t pull the trigger. In some cases, this employee is bringing everyone down around them. They are hurting morale, making mistakes, and possibly causing fights between employees. Maybe this employee was once a friend or one of your earliest employees. It’s tough to fire employees like this, but in many cases, it’s better to just pull the bandage off now instead of delaying the inevitable. Toxic employees lead to many problems in every facet of your business. Instead of waiting until they give you no other choice, part ways with your toxic employee now.

5. Taking a Chance

Many business owners are risk-averse individuals. They took a risk initially to get things started and it worked out. When it comes to taking a chance beyond that, they stall. Maybe you’ve been putting off launching a new product or service. Maybe you think you should get into a new market with your products. Whatever it is, there’s a good chance that you know it’s the right decision, but you’re putting it off. Don’t put it off any longer. If it’s truly the right move, you’ll know it and be glad that you made the decision in the end.

Featured photo credit: vwfsfleet.co.uk via vwfsfleet.co.uk

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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