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  • Writer's pictureDavid Lawrence

The Trap of Getting Lost in Day-to-Day Operations: How Founders Can Stay Innovative

A wooden board with four sticky notes pinned to it.

As a business founder, it's easy to fall into the trap of being consumed by day-to-day operations. Often, you lose sight of generating new innovations to propel your business forward. We are here to discuss four common pitfalls that founders face: (1)not delegating, (2)being the perfectionist, (3)assuming everything will stay the same long-term, and (4)succumbing to success bias. We follow up by providing you with recommendations to avoid the pitfalls, so those wheels keep churning.

Take a look at the four pitfalls and ask yourself, do I fall into any of the categories here? If so, continue toward the bottom to find out how to avoid these pitfalls:

1. Not Delegating

In the early stages of a business, it's natural for the founder to wear many hats. However, as the business grows, one of the biggest challenges for founders is learning to delegate. What becomes important is knowing you have a good team, and have provided each individual with the tools and processes to excel and handle a bigger load of responsibilities. By not delegating, you risk spreading yourself too thin, leaving little time and energy to focus on what comes next. To avoid this trap, take the time to prioritize hiring and developing a capable team and learn to trust their expertise but also build a process to set both you and your team up for success.

2. Being a Perfectionist

Ask yourself, are you a perfectionist? There is absolutely nothing wrong about being detailed oriented, but at times, it serves as both a strength and a weakness. The goal is always to strive for excellence, but so is releasing the actual product or service. Those who are too focused on perfecting every detail, risk delaying launches, missing opportunities, and stifling innovation. The last thing you want is to impact other deadlines and marked goals. It's important to find a balance between quality and speed and to embrace the idea of continuous improvement.

3. Assuming Everything Will Stay the Same Long-Term

Change is the only constant in today's fast-paced business landscape. If you assume everything will remain the same, it is likely you will be left behind. Some of the most important tasks in today's age is to stay updated on industry trends, customer preferences, and emerging technologies. When you proactively anticipate and adapt to change, you set your business up to continue to evolve and thrive which in turn leads you down a successful path.

4. Succumbing to Success Bias

Success breeds confidence, but can also lead to complacency. Those who experience early success may develop what's called 'success bias,' believing that their current methods and strategies will continue to work indefinitely. Adopting this mindset can hinder innovation, as one may be reluctant to explore new ideas or challenge the status quo. To counteract success bias, you should remain humble, learn from past mistakes, and actively seek feedback from your team and customers.

So, how do you overcome the innovation trap and avoid getting lost in day-to-day operations?

1. Delegate tasks and responsibilities to a capable team. Here are some examples:

  • Assigning specific projects or assignments to team members with relevant skills and expertise.

  • Empowering managers or department heads to make decisions and take ownership of their respective areas of responsibility.

  • Outsourcing certain tasks or projects to external contractors or freelancers.

  • Training and developing employees to take on additional responsibilities and delegate tasks within their own teams.

  • Using project management tools or software to assign and track tasks among team members.

  • Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) and delegating tasks based on established processes.

2. Balance perfectionism with the need for speed and continuous improvement. Read through some of the examples below.

  • Defining acceptable levels of quality: A person can define acceptable levels of quality for different tasks or projects, taking into consideration specific requirements and expectations. This allows for a balanced approach where perfectionism can be applied where necessary while not compromising on overall speed and progress.

  • Encouraging iterative improvement: One can promote a culture of continuous improvement within their organization, emphasizing the importance of learning from mistakes, seeking feedback, and making incremental improvements over time. This approach allows for ongoing progress and growth, even if perfection is not achieved in the initial stages.

  • Setting clear priorities: Prioritize tasks and projects based on their importance and urgency. They can identify critical areas that require meticulous attention to detail, while also recognizing tasks that can be executed with a focus on speed and efficiency.

3. Stay informed about industry trends and keep an open mind to change. What this may look like for you.

  • Industry publications and websites: There are industry-specific publications, websites, blogs, and news portals to stay updated with the latest trends, news, and developments. This can include industry journals, trade publications, and reputable online sources that provide reliable and up-to-date information.

  • Conferences and events: Attending industry conferences, seminars, workshops, and events can provide valuable insights and opportunities to network with other professionals in the industry. These events often feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, and workshops that focus on the latest trends and innovations in the industry.

  • Associations: Joining industry associations and organizations can provide access to valuable resources, networking opportunities, and industry-specific knowledge. These associations often host events, webinars, and workshops that focus on best practices.

  • Social media and online forums: Following industry influencers, thought leaders, and experts on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Meta, and industry-specific forums can provide real-time updates on the latest discussions in the industry. Engaging in discussions, asking questions, and sharing insights can also help you stay informed and connected.

  • Research and market reports: Conducting regular research and analyzing market reports from reputable sources can provide insights into industry trends, consumer behavior, and market dynamics. This can help business owners make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

4. Remain humble and learn from both successes and failures. Here are ways to track outputs and prepare for later.

  • Performance reviews: Conducting regular performance reviews for employees and the business as a whole can help identify areas of success and areas that need improvement. Evaluating the performance of projects and the overall business can provide insights into what is working well and what needs to be improved. Business owners can use this feedback to continuously iterate and adapt their strategies to avoid complacency and strive for excellence.

  • Learning from past mistakes: When mistakes or failures occur, business owners can learn from them by conducting a thorough review of what went wrong, why it happened, and how it can be prevented in the future. This can involve identifying gaps in processes, communication breakdowns, or other factors that contributed to the failure. Business owners can use these lessons to implement corrective measures, improve processes, and avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

  • Research and analysis: Regularly conducting industry research and analysis can help business owners stay updated with the latest trends, innovations, and best practices. By learning from successful industry trends and case studies, as well as failures and challenges faced by others, business owners can gain insights and avoid complacency by continuously improving their strategies and staying ahead of the competition.

  • Customer feedback analysis: Listening to customer feedback, whether it's through surveys, reviews, or direct communication, can provide valuable insights into what customers appreciate about the business and what areas need improvement. Business owners can analyze this feedback and take action on areas that require improvement to avoid complacency and continuously meet customer expectations.

By addressing these challenges head-on, founders can stay focused on generating new innovations that will propel their businesses to greater heights. Take a moment to thoroughly check whether you have fallen in any of the pits. If so, what actions will you take to turn the wheels again and re-spark your creative genius?


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