We’ve heard the expression “You never know when inspiration will strike.”  I believe it whole-heartedly.

This evening, while my husband and I were watching the movie “Seven,” I mentioned that I wanted to come up with one or two topics that I might write about tonight. That clever man pointed to the TV and said, “There you go.”

Aha! The “Seven Deadly Sins of Business!”

Okay, maybe “sins” is a bit strong, but there are certainly seven potentially disastrous attitudes correlating to those sins that I hope our brainstorming can help you to avoid. (For the record, the Mr. has owned a construction contracting corporation for many years, so I value his input.)  Admittedly, some of these traits can be good as well as bad when it comes to business. But an over-abundance of any of them can lead to problems that might be difficult to resolve.

  1. Pride. You’re proud of your business – and you should be. You’ve worked hard to get it up and running, and you’re doing well. But beware of too much pride. It won’t serve you well to be over-confident. It’s better to temper your pride with a little humility, or you might find yourself becoming complacent and not giving 100 percent to the business.
  2. Envy. Though it’s a natural reaction, try not to envy a competitor’s business. You might see another entrepreneur as having attained a level of success that you’d like to emulate, but don’t be envious. It will take away your spirit of fair play and make you resent someone who could possibly be an ally down the road.
  3. Gluttony. This one’s tough. As a business owner, you’re supposed to want to make as much money as possible. Who wouldn’t? But be careful of how you want it. Be sure that you don’t make your profit at the expense of someone else. It’s a matter of ethics, really – play nicely, and leave some for the other kids.
  4. Lust.  Hmmm? Kind of like envy, but with a kick. There’s that other company that you really, really, really want your company to be. If that’s the case, study the other company, figure out how it got to be where it is. Use it as a model, and then build your business to meet those criteria. Who knows, maybe you’ll even surpass your ideal.
  5. Anger. You won’t avoid this one, that’s for sure. As a business owner, there will be so many things that will make you angry – whether it’s a late delivery, unpaid invoices, high taxes – take your pick, you’ll find plenty of things to be mad about. The thing to remember, though, is not to let your anger get the better of you. Try really hard to direct your anger at its source, and not let it spill over into the rest of your business. Don’t let that late delivery give you license to yell at your employees – it isn’t their fault, and it won’t benefit anyone.
  6. Greed. As with gluttony, you want to make a profit, and a big one. But again, proceed wisely. Don’t get so caught up in the profits that you forget to watch the rest of the business. If the only thing you’re watching is the bottom line, you might overlook other aspects of your company. Keep employee relations high on your list of priorities.
  7. Sloth. You’ve seen movies about the down on his luck PI, the guy with the stained tie and messy office. Know why he’s down on his luck? It’s because of the stained tie and messy office. No one wants to do business with a “professional” who can’t maintain a neat appearance. If you work from a home office, where things can tend to get a bit unruly (trust me, I know), schedule meetings at clients’ offices, or perhaps at a coffee shop. Dress professionally – there’s no need to be high-end, and looking good doesn’t have to break the bank.

I hope you’ll take the advice of someone who works in a two-business home office. Between my husband’s business and mine, there are many files, faxes, mail (don’t you just love a paperless environment?). It’s incredibly important to maintain order. We’ve struck a balance, and it works beautifully. We’re not often in the office at the same time, but when we are, it doesn’t hurt to look nice.