Six Fatal Flaws That Are Harming Your Business

By on June 14, 2013
woman upset working at computer

By Sharon Hurley Hall –

Ever felt like your business just wasn’t fulfilling its potential? Don’t worry; it happens to many of us. Perhaps you’re suffering from one of the six fatal flaws that can drag any business down. Here’s what they are, along with suggestions for how to solve them.

1. Small Biz Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a recognized condition – you could think of it as number-phobia. But even people who are otherwise OK about addition and subtraction can suffer from Small Biz Dyscalculia – the fear of running the numbers on their business. People who suffer with this syndrome might say: “I’m not an accountant” or “I hate spreadsheets”. But as a business owner, you don’t have the luxury of giving into this disease. It’s your business – so you need to know the numbers, or you won’t have a business for very long.

How do you get past this phobia? Here are three options:

  • Start slowly by tracking key numbers (what you’re billing, what you’re spending, what others are billing you) in a notebook or spreadsheet), then try an accounting program. Wave is free and easy to use but there are also many others.
  • Find out more about business numbers – when you know about something, it’s not so scary. My recommendation? How to be a Finance Rock Star by Numbers Whisperer Nicole A Fende.
  • Hire someone you trust to do the numbers, BUT (and this is important) you still need to follow steps 1 and 2 so you know what’s going on in your business. You wouldn’t want to get a nasty surprise a few months down the road.

2. Headless Chicken Syndrome

Any farming folk out there? Then you know that a headless chicken will run around for a while after it’s lost its head, but it can’t see where it’s going. In business, lack of vision can be seriously damaging. The way to solve this is to get a business plan and get guidance on identifying how you solve key problems for your ideal client (and who is that client, anyway?).

A good resource to help you with this is Prosperity’s Kitchen, by Word Chef Tea Silvestre. This was a three month long online marketing master class and game and the content will be up for at least a few more months. I think it’s the best business education money can’t buy, so check it out!

3. Online Agoraphobia

Sometimes you can be so busy working on your business that you forget to see what’s going on in the rest of the world. That’s what I mean by online agoraphobia – the fear of open (web) spaces. If you’re avoiding social media, then this may be hurting your business. As well as your business website, you need a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – wherever your target clients are hanging out.

The rule is: participate so you can be seen – don’t just lurk. Many people hang back because they think it’s too difficult to do social media right – but doing something is always better than doing nothing so start small and follow these steps.

  • Set up a profile on one social media site where your clients hang out.
  • Reply to 2 or 3 discussions each day.
  • Share 1 item per day and respond to any comments.
  • Rinse, repeat and expand as you build confidence.

See, it’s not so hard, is it?

4. Social Ubiquity

Social ubiquity is the opposite of online agoraphobia – it’s the conviction that you have to be everywhere on social media. But here’s a question: if you are always on social media sites, when are you building your business? Sharing one meme on Facebook may help to get your business better known; sharing 20 is just wasting time. Like everything else you need balance in social media. The best way to achieve this is to:

  • set aside specific windows for interacting on social media and don’t depart from them
  • turn off notifications so you don’t get disturbed by non-essentials (or set up filtering so they are automatically archived to a special folder)
  • use a bookmarking or saving tool (like Pocket) to save stuff you want to look at so you can continue to work interrupted
  • keep your twitchy brain under control (something I personally struggle with).

5. Pushmi Pullyu Pattern

Carol Lynn Rivera mentioned the time in a business when there is both not enough work and too much so you end up stuck in the middle, not knowing where to turn. I’ve called this the Pushmi Pullyu Pattern. Once your business starts to grow you may get to the point where you want more of certain kinds of work but don’t have time to do the admin that goes with them. The solution is simple – outsource. Before you can do that, though, you need to document the systems you use for your business so that you can hand these off to someone else and they can hit the ground running.

6. Sisyphus Implosion

Before I describe this syndrome, let’s have a bit of background. Sisyphus implosion comes from a Greek legend. He offended the gods and they condemned him to roll a boulder uphill till he reached the top – the only trouble was – he never did. Every morning the boulder would be right back at the bottom of the hill and he had to start again. This seemed like a good metaphor for small business burnout – something that happens to many of us. Some people get so burned out that they have to take an extended break – and that’s not good for business. So here’s what you do:

  • learn to recognize the signs of burnout
  • stop overworking – it won’t help anyone
  • get some rest or change focus for a while
  • outsource what you can.

So these are my six small biz busters – have you ever experienced any of them?

Sharon Hurley Hall has been writing professionally for almost 25 years, and she does it because she loves it. She is a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and is fascinated by learning new things. Since 2005, Sharon has mentored other writers at “Get Paid To Write Online” to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Sharon subscribes to the ‘fine wine’ theory of aging – getting older also means getting better! Find Sharon on her website, Twitter , and Facebook.


About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been writing professionally for almost 25 years, and she does it because she loves it. She is a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and is fascinated by learning new things. Since 2005, Sharon has mentored other writers to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Sharon subscribes to the 'fine wine' theory of aging - getting older also means getting better! Connect with Sharon on her website.


  1. Tea Silvestre

    June 15, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Believe it or not, I’ve suffered from more than one of these! I think almost every new biz owner will experience AT LEAST one of ’em during the first few years in business. That is — until they read a post like this and see themselves as not alone in the world of suffering. Great post, and thanks for sharing the Prosperity’s Kitchen link!

  2. Sharon Hurley Hall

    June 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks, Tea; it’s amazing how much commonality there is in our experience. Always happy to talk about PK – I’m still using some of the material I created there to good effect.

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  4. Shannon O'Connor

    July 20, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Great post, Sharon! 1-3 and #6 are all me! I am definitely a lurker on social media, which is strange because I’m actually very extroverted in person. I love all the learning opportunities that technology provides and I enjoy researching, reading other people’s writing, and discovering new resources online, but for some reason I’ve always had an aversion to social media. Was I the only one who listened to the warnings about “Stranger Danger” as a kid? 🙂

    I have finally accepted the fact that social media is not a passing fad (as I had hoped) and I need to get with the program if I want to build my business. m trying to be more open minded about it. Up until last week, I was not on any social media sites except for Linkedin. I am still scared of Facebook, but I created my Google + pages yesterday and I must admit that I’m really digging it so far!

    #2 is also presenting some real issues for me as far as moving forward with my marketing. However, I think my problem might be a a matter of too much vision – too many new ideas, plans, and projects in the works – and no functional system in which to organize or actualize them. Between my ongoing inner brainstorming dialogue, all the subsequent writing drafts, and compulsion to save every interesting post or site I come across online,I’m really starting to flounder.

    I recently joined the Digital Dining Room with Tea and I’m finding the courses and activities to be very helpful – thank you, Word Chef! :)It may not appear that way because of the whole creepy lurker thing, but I am getting a lot out of it and connecting with some really wonderful and talented people like Sharon here.

    Sharon, are you also a member of Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den?

    • Sharon Hurley Hall

      October 3, 2013 at 5:59 am

      Hi Shannon, you couldn’t be in a better place than the Digital Dining Room to really put your business planning and marketing on track. I’ve been in some of Tea’s programs and she provides excellent, actionable advice. In no time at all, you’ll be able to pick the thing you most want to work on and focus on that instead of being overwhelmed by the possibilities.

      I’m not in the Freelance Writer’s Den, though I hear good things about it.

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Six Fatal Flaws That Are Harming Your Business