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5 Habits That Cause Entrepreneurs To Fail

Exploring the Dark Arts of Jackassery with Founder (and recovering jackass) Clay Clark

Fortunately, as the former U.S. Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneur of the Year (and recovering jackass), I get asked to help grow businesses in nearly every industry. Unfortunately, and sadly as a business owner who once practiced the dark art of “Jackassery,” I can empathize with nearly every poor decision they are making because I used to make the same poor decisions as well. My friend, when banks refer me to a business to help them grow or to “turn the ship around” I often see businesses that are crashing and burning firsthand.

Because I’ve personally witnessed these implosions and explosions so many times, I’ve identified five reasons that can account for every failure I’ve witnessed. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say that I haven’t had the chance to work with an entrepreneur in the clay pigeon or petting zoo industries, so I cannot speak to these industries from experience. Thus, if you are in those two industries, these five habits that cause entrepreneurs to fail, don’t apply to you. However, for everybody else, as you read these habits and false beliefs, ask yourself which one sounds most like you. What are you going to do to begin improving upon yourself and your mindset today?

Habit #1: The Entrepreneur Is an Excuse Maker

It makes me want to fish slap or at least club the entrepreneur in the shin when I hear them give insane excuses for their slacking. I wish I had a dollar for every time an entrepreneur has told me, “You know, I wanted to get it done, but I ran out of time. I just don’t have the downtime that you have.”

Are you kidding me? According to a Nielsen Report that was published in the New York Daily News, the average American is now watching 5 hours of TV per day. Now I am sure that you are one of the few America’s who does not watch any television and that you are not practicing the “Dark Art of Jackassery” as I once did. I literally used to watch TV, stay up late and then have the audacity to tell my wife and others that, “I just didn’t have the time. I just literally ran out of time. I am totally maxed out.”

Today, I have five kids, one wife, and multiple businesses I personally own. This blog itself was written a little each day between the hours of 2:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. using 1-hour devoted chunks of time. I’m not awash in downtime. If you cannot make time to change your life, I understand the cash-repelling forces that are causing you to struggle. My friend, you are experiencing the super-natural wealth destroying habit force we know as, “Jackassery.”

Correction…I know that you do not need to make a change and that other people are probably the problem, so please forward on these timesaving tips to them.

  • Step 1 – Don’t take lunches again…ever…until you find the time to change your life.

Clay Clark - Habits that cause entrepreneurs to fail

  • Step 2 – Drink EAS Myoplex meal replacement shakes or something similar to fuel your body. 
  • Step 3 – Don’t ever watch television again until you have the free time needed to change your life.
  • Step 4 – Cancel your cable or satellite service. I’ve done it. It’s glorious and you’ll be amazed how much time and money you free up when you aren’t spending your nights flipping mindlessly between parts of shows and reality TV shows about people making poor life choices and couples that want to swap husbands. If you want to watch this crap, just go to your office and ask the people around you about all of their drama. You probably have the makings of great reality show right in your own office.
  • Step 5 – Avoid the people going nowhere who want company. You simply cannot afford to spend time with idiots, negative people, and people quickly going nowhere until you find the time to change your life. Once you have found the time to change your life, please feel free to indulge your inner dark urge to waste hours upon hours talking to people about why they don’t like about our current president, religious differences, why another country’s currency is in trouble, and political differences. Once you really find time to have huge amounts of success, you might even want to host a “Jackassery-Themed Reunion.” At this event, you can invite everyone who talks about things that you can’t control and you can just put on some old school jams and dance the night away while talking about nothing and things that get you upset.

One day while reading something by Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich, it occurred to me, I’m wasting huge amounts of time listening to idiots. They are killing my joy and consuming over one hour of my time per day with all of their Facebook messages, e-mails, calls, and texts. I immediately decided to let them know I was no longer available to discuss “Jackassery.” BOOM! Just like that, I found another one hour per day, five hours per week.

My friend, you must stop hanging out with business owners like the people below. Remember, it was the great inventor and scientist Albert Einstein who once said, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

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  • Step 6 – Calculate your time savings:

Time saved on lunch = 30 minutes per day x 5 days = 2.5 hours per week

Time the average American would save if they didn’t watch TV = 5 hours per day x 7 days per week = 35 hours

Time saved by eliminating stupid conversations = 5 hours per week

Time now available to change your life = 35 hours + 2.5 hours + 5 hours per week = 42.5 hours of free time available to change your life.

Habit Trait #2: The Entrepreneur Is a Blamer

Entrepreneurs who blame the economy, the way they were raised, the weather, the customer, their employees, their ex-wife, the current President, the opposite political party and anything other than themselves for their situation, will never be successful.

For instance, I used to be guilty of placing blame on my employees for my lack of business growth until I spent time with the President of the billion-dollar convenience store chain QuikTrip. He shared with me that the compensation packages I offered should be focused on merit-based pay systems, that I should be implementing the systems found with the Harvard case study-based book, The Service Profit Chain and that I should be using the One Minute Manager as my guide for managing the daily aspects of my business. I quickly realized I did not know who the authors of these books were. I immediately became aware that I had not even heard of these books. I realized that I was in fact…wait for it…suffering from an infection of “Jackassery.” I literally was paying a dumb tax every day as a result of not knowing what I was doing. I was responsible for attracting the wrong kind of workers. Once I corrected my mistake, things turned around dramatically.

My friend, you have to focus on building scalable business systems that and not on blaming others. Don’t run around saying you can’t have success because idiots surround you. Remember it was the great investor Warren Buffet who once said, “I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.”

Habit Trait #3: The Entrepreneur Is Dishonest

I constantly see entrepreneurs who would rather give false praise to everyone than candidly and constructively criticize anyone including themselves. This is very bad. This is insane. This is “Jackassery” 101. If I work for you and I do a good job, you should let me know. If I work for you and I do a poor job, you should let me know. You must be candid and transparent all the time. If you are telling everyone that they are doing “a good job” so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings, you are setting yourself up for failure. Furthermore, if you are cheating your employees on their paychecks or lying to customers, you are also going to fail. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE whom many consider to be one of the most productive CEOs of all-time describes top leaders as, “Underneath, you would surely see that the best care passionately about their people—about their growth and success. And you would see that they themselves are comfortable in their own skins. They’re real, filled with candor and integrity, optimism and humanity.”

Habit Trait #4: The Entrepreneur Is Lazy

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to personally interview billion-dollar business owners, millionaires, and countless successful people. What I have found is that they are all hard workers, vigorous learners, and people with a work ethic that is two times more intense than the average person. Show me an entrepreneur who sleeps in and shows up late, who does not have the time to read, and I’ll show you a failing entrepreneur or the stubborn man / mule hybrid that I used to be called, a jackass.

An entrepreneur who won’t take the time to read is committed to staying stagnant, and is making a very expensive decision. The bestselling author and renowned business speaker Brian Tracy was correct when he once wrote, “No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.”

One such entrepreneur that has pretty much “been there, done that” and succeeded who you might want to check out because he has lived a lot longer than most of us, is 91-year-old entrepreneur Jack Nadel. He wrote the award-winning book, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, and basically outlines everything he’s learned in a way that’s easy to absorb and incorporate into your startup (unless you truly are lazy and don’t want to learn from others to get a head-start). Jack is recognized for saying practical and realistic things like, “You know if you have an original idea, you think you’re the only guy that ever had that idea? Nonsense! If it’s any good, someone had the idea before you!” So go and research those that have tried your ideas, whether they achieved success or not, because you can learn from them.

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Habit Trait #5: The Entrepreneur Is Convinced He Knows It All

I never cease to be amazed by entrepreneurs who haven’t read a book since college, who don’t know the first thing about creating scalable and duplicable business systems and who have no idea what they are doing but are 100 percent convinced that they are on track for success. These people then act baffled each week when they go to the bank to cash their small checks. Trust me, I used to do this.

As an example, if this is your approach to accounting, you might be in trouble.

It’s not bad to admit you don’t know it all. Own up to what you don’t know, learn, and then implement proven systems for success, then watch your checks grow. As an example if you are serious about learning to sell make sure to read Soft Selling In A Hard World by Jerry Vass, Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes, The New Conceptual Selling by Robert Miller and Relationship Selling by Jim Cathcart. Once you learn how to improve the sales aspect of your business you will begin to prosper. But as long as you don’t know what you don’t know it will hurt you.

Clay Clark is the former United States Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year, an award-winning speaker, and the founder of the online business education platform designed to help people to start a business, grow a business or advance in their careers. Clay enjoys avoiding direct sunlight, chasing his gorgeous wife and their 5 kids around when not focusing on, which offers business skill training in 15-minute videos taught by world-class mentors, millionaires, and everyday entrepreneurial success stories.

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About Clay Clark

Clay Clark is the CEO, Show Host and Visionary of Clark has been a U.S. SBA Entrepreneur of the Year, a Metro Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, and the U.S. Chamber National Blue Ribbon Quality Award Winner. As a business consultant, entertainer and educator his clients over the years have included: Hewlett…