We’ve all sat in a job interview and been asked the dreaded question, “What’s your biggest weakness?” Somewhere along your career path, you’ve hopefully learned how to answer this question in a positive light without dropping cheesy answers like “I work too hard” or “I care too much.” As silly as it sounds, there’s a lot of power in understanding your flaws. In some cases, recognizing an area of weakness means working to completely overcome an unsightly quirk. But so-called flaws can also represent an opportunity to stand out from the competition.
As an entrepreneur, the key to using your personal flaws to your advantage is understanding which ones to ditch and which ones to fully embrace as strengths. Let’s take a look at the flaws that may be holding you back in business as well as the ones that can help launch your venture forward.
Traits to Ditch
When it comes to assessing your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner, the hardest thing to do is identify your Achilles’ heel. But if you’re going to put in countless time and energy into making your business a successful one, and the last thing you want to become is your own worst enemy. If you’re guilty of these tendencies, talk to your business mentor about how to shift gears:
As a business owner, your inner drive likely got you to where you are today, and you have every reason to be proud of yourself. However, there’s a fine line between being sniper-focused on your business and being a workaholic. If you’re not finding time to take care of yourself physically, spiritually and mentally, your business is bound to suffer eventually. Make time to unplug and connect with friends and family or have email-free alone time. You may be surprised to find the positive changes outside influences can have on your business, such as increased imagination and an ability to connect with others.
Much like working ourselves to the bone, Americans tend to take pride in our ‘ability’ to multitask, but it’s actually a harmful behavior. Sometimes finding extra time to work can make sense – like putting the finishing touches on a presentation while flying on a plane. However, if you’re sending emails or working on a project while holding a conference call or sitting in a budget meeting, there’s a larger issue at play. First off, one of those tasks isn’t getting your full attention, which means important elements may be missed. What’s more, as the boss of your company, your actions set the standard for what’s acceptable. If you’re not focused in a meeting, why should anyone else be?
If you find you simply can’t achieve what needs to be done in 24 hours (with time to sleep and eat), it’s time to assess what parts of your work can be delegated.
Traits to Embrace
What some corporate America managers might label as ‘flaws’ can actually be assets in the world of entrepreneurship. These skills can help you succeed as a business owner, so embrace them and don’t let others talk you into changing:
If you’re a natural introvert, don’t let the false stereotype that you can’t be a good leader get you down. Introverts and extroverts both have their flaws, but both can succeed in business. Embrace your introversion by focusing on your natural strengths such as active listening and critical thinking. There may be some scenarios that require you to stretch outside your comfort zone, but there’s power in introversion. Not convinced? Looks to all-star introvert entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
New business owners are often surprised by the amount of work required to be successful. It’s true that the effort required to run a business can be overwhelming, but that’s why those who are obsessed with their business find the drive and motivation to keep pushing forward. If you find yourself relentlessly innovating, strategizing and spewing elevator pitches to anyone who will listen, keep it up because obsession is one flaw that will help you succeed in business.
Having big goals is essential to being successful, but the insecurity that can arise from consistently striving for perfection can be crippling. No matter how successful someone may be, flaws are natural and expected. The key is to harnessing these flaws in business is self-awareness and the ability to utilize some of these quirks to your advantage, as well as having the flexibility to grow out of some of the more harmful ones.
David Nilssen is the CEO & Co-founder of Guidant Financial, which helps individuals secure small business funding to start, buy or grow a business with 401(k) business financing, SBA loans and more. Read more tips about finding and financing your business on the Guidant blog at guidantfinancial.com/blog.