Over my 18+ years of being an entrepreneur, I have worked with a variety of people and personalities. I’ve definitely made mistakes in the past in hiring individuals and working with partners, and even vendors who didn’t have my company’s best interests at heart.
As someone who liked to give people second chances, I put up with way too much and wasted time and money with the wrong people. Money, you can always get back. Time: once it’s gone, it’s gone.
In the hopes of saving you both, here are seven types of people I’ve worked with in the past that I’ve learnt to avoid as I build my brand and my business.
1) The ‘It’s Not My Fault-er’
They avoid accountability like the plague. Their mistakes are always due to someone else’s missteps and never to anything that they did wrong themselves. Without accountability, people are unlikely to grow wiser and can eventually become a liability.
In fact, the only way to become wiser is to learn from your mistakes. Those mistakes become lessons that can be incorporated into improving your business.
I love this video by Steve Harvey where he talks about how he’s failed many more times than he’s succeeded – and that’s why he’s successful. Unfortunately, the ‘It’s Not My Fault-er’ has a completely different perspective, one that, left unchecked, will slow down the growth of your business
2) The ‘Bright Shiny Object Follower’
Years ago, I heard about the Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. This NPE article defines it as:
“… the tendency to get sidetracked or attracted by some new ‘exciting’ and attractive idea. You get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal and tasks that you really need to concentrate on.”
We’ve all been guilty of being sidetracked at one time or another by distractions that kept us from focusing on the most important task at hand. But as an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to be distracted – and neither can the people you’re working with.
I’ve seen some of the most well-established companies lose market share and opportunities because they kept chasing “new objects” instead of digging in with a long-term strategy to improve and stay focused on the one thing they were really good at before moving on to the next.
Be careful about hiring these kind of people. Their lack of focus or follow-through on the most critical tasks will have you running in circles: fast.
3) The ‘Yes-man’ or ‘Yes-woman’
We all like working with people who are helpful and can step in whenever it’s crunch time. You definitely want people on your team who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
However, if you’re hiring people (especially in leadership roles) who don’t know how or when to say “no”, then you’re setting yourself up for competing priorities.
In our book, Whose Shoes Are You Wearing? 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be, my sister and co-author, Christine St. Vil wrote a chapter entitled, “No is a Complete Sentence.”
Although this particular chapter is referring to setting personal boundaries, the subject is just as relevant to your small business. Learning to say “no” to the wrong projects, opportunities and even clients leaves you the room to say “yes” to those things which will really help your company grow.
If you’re always saying “yes” to everyone and everything, your mission and your money can get muddled very quickly. Make sure you’re working with people who have clarity around your purpose and can make decisions that support it.
4) The ‘Allergic to Dirt-er’
As most entrepreneurs know, behind all the glitz and glamour of building an outwardly successful business is a tonne of hard, and often grueling, behind-the-scenes work. If there’s one thing I appreciated about Miko Branch’s new book, Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch – Naturally, it was the fact that she shared how much hard work went into building the multi-million brand she started with her sister, Titi.
When they opened their salon in Brooklyn years ago, the two natural hair pioneers literally got down on their hands and knees, refinishing floors, installing shelves, painting walls – whatever it took to get the place looking the way they wanted it in order to best represent their brand.
Even when they started making their own products and had to lug heavy containers full of products up and down the stairs, they did what they had to do without complaint because they were focused on the bigger picture.
I noted that they hired people who were just as willing to get their hands dirty as they were. So if you’re working with someone who doesn’t like getting their hands dirty, and isn’t willing to do whatever needs to be done (legally and within reason) to build towards a bigger vision for your business, maybe they’re just not the right fit
5) The ‘Whiner’
The Whiner is the Allergic to Dirt-er’s cousin. While the Allergic to Dirt-er runs from hard work and makes excuses as to why they’re never available to help out, the Whiner does the work while complaining the entire time.
There’s nothing worse than working your tail off to meet deadlines, pay vendors, keep the lights on and land new clients, while one of your team members is whining the entire time. They whine about their workload. They whine about their office (or lack thereof). They whine about your clients. They even whine about the coffee! As a matter of fact, there’s very little they don’t whine about.
As an entrepreneur, you know what it’s like to be on the hustle regularly. You need people who understand and are willing to support that hustle – graciously. Whiners will drain your energy and slow you down. Cut them loose and keep it moving.
6) The ‘Unteachable’
Have you ever tried to teach someone a new, and more effective way to do something, only to have them shut it down immediately?
I see this happen regularly on one of my favourite shows, The Profit with Marcus Lemonis. He’s a successful entrepreneur who comes in and helps struggling business owners reorganise their companies so they can begin to turn a profit.
Many of these businesses are months, sometimes days, away from having to shut down operations. Usually, the product or service they’re selling is good – the way they’re doing business is not.
I always find it interesting how many of these business owners fight Lemonis on the changes he wants to make, because he’s forcing them to learn to do business differently. Those who are teachable and willing to learn go on to a successful partnership with Lemonis, while those who are not, usually lose his investment.
As a consequence, their likelihood of going out of business goes up. Don’t let the latter be you. Make sure the people you have chosen to take with you on this entrepreneurial journey are teachable and open to new ideas. If someone on your team is constantly fighting change because they want to stick to how it’s always been done, you can be sure that battle will drain you of time and money.
In a world where business is changing at the speed of light, you have to be willing to learn just as fast – or risk becoming obsolete. (image ©CNBC)
7) The ‘Gossip’
Ugh. Just ugh. I’ve learnt to steer clear of gossips because they just drain my energy. I honestly don’t have time to hear about what everyone else is up to when I’m so busy working on my own business.
The thing is, gossip is almost always about tearing other people down and tainting their reputations. If someone has that time to constantly observe and report on other people, you have to wonder how much work are they really getting done?
Also, what are they saying about you and your business when you’re not around? A gossip is not one to keep secrets, and you need people around you who understand confidentiality and integrity in business. Trust me, you don’t have the time to constantly fend off rumours that start internally – you’ve got an empire to build!
On your entrepreneurial journey, surround yourself with people who are more focused on providing useful constructive criticism to your face than malicious words behind your back.
Bringing into perspective
We all need people who are passionate about working with us to fulfill the vision for our business. The key, though, is not settling for the wrong people.
Take your time getting to know the individuals, partners and vendors who will ultimately become your brand ambassadors before you decide to cement those relationships. Your business will thank you.
What lessons have you learnt from hiring and/or partnering with the wrong people in your business?