7 deadly sins of a small business entrepreneur

Bill Morrow of Angels’ Den guides us through the 7 mortal sins that each and every entrepreneur must endeavour to resist … or maybe not!?

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14th April 2009 at 9:08 am

Temptation is all around us. Every day a capital vice or two will focus their attention on us and attempt to persuade us to leave the path of the virtuous entrepreneur, the saintly entrepreneur, the good small business entrepreneur.

So how do you make sure that you don’t stray, that you remain true to your moral code and can sleep easy at night? A good mental defence comes from understanding the nature of mortal sin, and to help you along this dark and dangerous journey we have gone to questionable lengths to research the following list…good luck!

1. Lust
An unquenchable appetite for something. As a small business entrepreneur you will often be faced with this common and potentially treacherous vice. Then again…surely a little passion is essential to business success, isn’t it?

To strive to capture a greater market share, to go all out to win that big contract or to desire the finer things in life that success can give you cannot be a bad thing, can it? Maybe we could all do with a little lust in our lives to push us forward from being small business entrepreneurs to become big business entrepreneurs!

2. Gluttony
Over-indulgence to the point of waste. Now surely there is no excuse for this. Why would you want to have the opportunity to eat what you want, where you want and how you want?

To order the most expensive meals in the finest restaurants anywhere in the world, to take business meetings over lunch at Nobu, nights out with loved ones at Claridge’s or breakfast at The Savoy would surely be excessive in the extreme. No, I say, small businesses entrepreneurs should not strive to be gluttonous…although I hear that the food at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant is to die for!!

3. Greed
To strive towards the acquisition of wealth…is bad? Oh come now, how can that be sinful for a small business entrepreneur? I can’t even attempt to find an argument against this, so I’ll leave it to one far more eloquent than I am.

In the words of Gordon Gekko, “…greed – for lack of a better word – is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

4. Sloth
The sin of laziness. Ah, now here’s one that I can sink my teeth into! No small business entrepreneur can survive if they are lazy. Running a small business takes time and effort in equal proportions. Evenings and weekends are filled with work, days are busier than you’ll ever know them in a salaried job, and those around you must understand that for a while at least they will have to sacrifice some of their quality time with you because your focus is on building your business.

Then again, one man’s sloth is another’s efficiency drive. When machines were introduced into manufacturing, TV remotes into the family home and computers onto work desks, those with a desire to simplify tasks were accused of laziness. Working smarter, not harder, is not being lazy: it’s just a prelude to increased productivity.

5. Wrath
Uncontrollable anger. To lose control of your emotions can damage your business reputation. Building long-term relationships with suppliers, staff and customers is essential to entrepreneurial success in a fickle world.

To be irritable, upset or vengeful will not help you towards your business goals, but anger implies passion and therefore it has its positive aspects as well. When you’re having a bad week, are you the kind of small business entrepreneur who loses faith or do you allow your emotions to fuel your efforts to bring your performance back on track?

6. Envy
Desiring what someone else has. To be consumed by such an infectious craving can be at least distracting and at worst devastating. As a small business entrepreneur, you’ll be driven by the need to plough your own furrow, to walk your own path, to go where no one has gone before (I canna give her any more, captain!), so surely wanting what others have is beneath you?

Well, not really. We all started out on our entrepreneurial journey being inspired by someone else. Whether it was Richard Branson, William Gates, Sir Alan Sugar or Alan Shearer, we wanted what they had – their skills, their money, their allure. If you want something badly enough, envy can push you on to achieving your goals.

7. Pride
Often referred to as the “original sin”, pride is all about self-image and glory. Original sin? Who created this list? By definition, small business entrepreneurs need self-belief, confidence and a determination to achieve power, position and wealth.

Pride in your work ensures that quality is never sacrificed for profit, pride in your achievements allows you some back-patting for all the effort you have put into your business, and pride in yourself is an important end product of success.

Deadly sins may have kept the Church busy for a millennium or so, but as far as small businesses are concerned the true evil to be sent packing, the true deadly sin of entrepreneurial achievement is to lose faith in your venture. Never give up, never lose heart: know that you can achieve great things.

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Bill Morrow

Bill Morrow is our "token male", in an otherwise female company. He is also a co-founder, having set up Angels Den in 2007 after several years researching the market. Bill's background is in City banking and funding, and is a firm believer that there is plenty of funding around for really good business ideas. Since forming Angels Den and attracting 2000 Angels in the first year, we tend to believe him! http://www.angelsden.co.uk

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