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24 May 2022

7 Entrepreneurial Strengths That Can Become Weaknesses as Your Business Grows

Jairek Robbins

Just like a baby is almost entirely dependent on its mother for the first stages of its life, so is a new business dependent on the personal attributes of its founder during the first couple of years of its existence. Obviously, each entrepreneur brings to the table a given set of strengths upon which the business dream is born and nurtured. However, there comes a time when the very strengths which were crucial during the initial stages of the business become weaknesses or outright liabilities for the health of that business.

Robert Kaplan and Bob Kaiser in a 2009 article for Harvard Business Review call this “overdoing your strengths.” We discuss some of those attributes which, if not carefully controlled as a business grows, can become stumbling blocks in the way of the success of the business.


It is a known reality that in the initial stages of the life of a business, the entrepreneur often has to wear many hats as they juggle different roles to keep the business alive. The term “one man army” is a good description for the way the entrepreneur does the work of a bookkeeper, customer relations officer, product developer, procurement manager, and many other roles. This multitasking is a necessary undertaking due to the cash shortage startups often face as they try to get on their feet within their industry.

However, as the business grows, the tendency to multitask can quickly become a liability because the stakes are higher and requisite professionals are necessary to keep the firm on course during its growth.

For example, the business can bleed funds if it doesn’t engage an experienced accountant who can recommend the best way to structure the company so that its tax obligations are minimal. Similarly, designing product packaging cannot be left to Johnny the front desk manager just because he is good at tinkering with designs got off the internet in order to come up with (almost) usable designs.

Specialists are more vital as the business grows, and the entrepreneurial tendency to multitask can hold back the company.

Relying on your gut to make major decisions

The truth is, instincts have a place in any entrepreneurial journey or any undertaking in life, but they cannot be solely relied upon as major decisions are being made for the company.

For example, a business that is considering expanding into another country needs solid data to guide how and when such an expansion can be implemented. The gut feeling of the founder isn’t enough in such a case even if his or her instincts did a great job while decisions were being made during the initial stages of the business.

A high appetite for risk

It is a given that entrepreneurs have a high risk tolerance level when compared to individuals who aren’t inclined to entrepreneurship. Starting a business entails taking a plunge into the unknown, and there are no guarantees that things will pan out as expected.

This high risk tolerance is behind the stories we read of someone withdrawing all their life’s savings and then living in their car since they can’t afford rent while their business idea is still struggling to gain traction.

While a high appetite for risk is a good thing in the initial stages of a business, risk-taking has to be carefully measured and planned as the business grows. This is because many factors, such as the stability of the enterprise’s cash flow, have to be evaluated before any risk is taken.

For this reason, a high appetite for risk can become a cog that cripples business growth and even survival despite this same attribute playing a vital role in the initial success of the startup.


Another entrepreneur strength that can become a major weakness as a business grows is a tendency to be a perfectionist. Pursuing excellence is vital, but perfectionism can hold back a growing company from reaching its full potential.

For example, a founder who is a perfectionist will obsess over every detail of the company website, such as the font used to write the landing pages. This can draw needed mental, financial and time resources away from other vital functions of the company, and perfectionism can also hold back the development and nurturing of competent teams to steer the company forward.

If you are an entrepreneur and have a streak of perfectionism, find a way to tone it down so that you don’t stand in the way of your company’s growth.

Working fast, and hard

Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their business idea and this passion gives them near superhuman energy to work very fast and for long hours. It isn’t uncommon in the entrepreneurship world to hear of people having 18-hour work days.

However, this tendency often doesn’t register the fact that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a race. As a result, many entrepreneurs suffer mental health issues and the long hours of work take a toll on their bodies, relationships and the business itself. This is because productivity can dwindle, decision making can become compromised and tempers easily flare when someone overworks and doesn’t give self-care the attention it deserves.

As your business grows, it is advisable for you to pace yourself and avoid working long hours as a matter of routine. In this way, you will retain mental clarity to steer the firm on its strategic path to success without sacrificing your health as you battle exhaustion or burnout.

Personal experience and reputation

Many entrepreneurs start out as employees and once they gain the necessary technical experience and build a solid reputation, they branch out on their own. This personal experience and reputation is vital in the initial stages of a business because the owner leverages these strengths to gain traction for their new business.

With time however, it is important to wean off being at the center of everything so that the teams you create can have the space to do what they do best without the owner breathing down their necks at every stage of their activities.

A business should nurture and develop its own reputation or brand rather than depending entirely on the name of the owner to keep afloat. This can only happen when the entrepreneur lets professionals take charge while the owner focuses on big picture issues like the strategic direction of the business.

A penchant for employees with high energy and flexibility

The passion of entrepreneurs makes them to have a soft spot for employees who have high energy levels and are flexible. These traits are vital in the beginning because a lot is happening very fast and speed is of the essence.

However, as the business grows, different skill sets are often required and high energy or flexibility may not be high on the priority list. If an entrepreneur remains locked in the high energy/flexibility bias, he or she could jeopardize the health of the business at a time when it needs steadfast and measured steps.

As you can see, the irony of entrepreneurship is that the very attributes which are vital during the formative stages of a business can spell doom for that business as it grows. One therefore has to be alert to the evolving needs of the business as it goes through the different stages and adjust your methods to suit the needs of the business. This is easier said than done, which is why we recommend that you work with professionals, such as a business coach to stand by you during your entrepreneurial journey to building a business that lasts. Are you the weak link in your business?


To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins

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