The 7 Deadly Sins of Small Business

Note from C3 Specialties:  We are very pleased to present a collaboration blog today.  C3 Specialties teamed up with SB PACE to write about the 7 Deadly Sins of Small Business Ownership. Julie Traxler and Corey Harris (SB PACE Founders) have graciously agreed to lend their experience with small business ownership to this blog.  We’re excited to be collaborating with such experts in small business. 

Thanks to The Bible, Dante, Brad Pitt, and Morgan Freeman, we are all familiar with the 7 Deadly Sins.  We know all about lust, greed, pride, and envy, and their pals gluttony, sloth, and wrath, but how often do we think of the deadly seven with respect to our business?  When someone in your network has a big win do you cheer them on or do you have pangs of jealousy that prevent you from truly celebrating someone else’s win?

Are you quick to fly off the handle when one of your vendors messes up an order?  Do you take the easy way out on tasks because you’re too tired to do it right?  Well my friend, we hate to break it to you, but you are indeed more familiar with the 7 deadly sins then you’re admitting (most likely to yourself). 


Lust is the glamor sin.  We all think of lust as the creepy married guy who is lusting after the hot chick at the gym, but that’s not the lust we’re talking about. We’re not even talking about the office romance that is sizzling in the copy room.  We are talking about longing for the things your business can’t attain; the things that won’t help your business to succeed.  Lusting after your competitors new system might not be the right fit for you.  Consider how much it costs, how long did it take to implement, what things needed to be put into place to make it work.  Is it efficient?  Does it cater to your business model or benefit your customers?  Just because it seems all pretty and shiny does not mean it’s right for you and your brand right now,..or ever.

When you hear the word gluttony does it conjure up an image of fat Ben Stiller at the end of Dodgeball, sitting on the sofa in his dirty, dingy bathrobe, hands stuffed into a chicken bucket and face covered in grease?  Well, that’s definitely one form of gluttony, but for your business it’s more likely presenting itself in the form of zero patience and being filled with contempt at everything and everyone.  Gluttony comes in the form of overconsumption in business as well:  leasing the bigger office, buying a nicer company vehicle than you need, taking your clients to too many fancy dinners.  Those sorts of overindulgences aren’t the milkshakes bringing all the boys to the yard.  They’re a fast track to financial disaster and business failure.

Greed is the most complex of the deadly sins because we go into business to make money, but we also need to be in it for the customers we serve.  The fastest way to wealth is by serving others.  If you’re only in it for the money, you’re not in it for the customers, and that’s not a sustainable way to grow your business. Only looking out for your bottom-line dollars can also cause you to go on the cheap side by not reinvesting in your business with updated equipment and software, or by not spending enough on your marketing.  By being greedy with your investments, you could inevitably lose the very thing you’re trying to hoard...profits.

Sloth isn’t just some cute animal hanging out in a tree; it’s a very real affliction for far too many people in this country.  How do you know if you’re suffering from it?  Well, if you find yourself avoiding work and avoiding responsibility you’re suffering from sloth.  What an absolutely deadly combination for a business owner. Sloth shows itself in business in the form of indifference.  Are you taking your employees for granted?  Do you not show them how you value them by taking an interest in their personal advancement and growth?  If you aren’t motivated enough to help build up your employees, chances are they aren’t going to be motivated to perform well for your business.

Do you hate your competition?  Do you spend more time focused on your closest competitor failing than you do on your business growing?  My friend, you’re in the throws of wrath.  Business rivalry is healthy, but you need to respect your competition and celebrate their wins.  A rising tide raises all boats.  We all believe it’s important to support other businesses and to acknowledge the strengths of others. When you are filled with wrath, you lash out at everyone and everything that sets you off on full tilt:  a competitor stealing clients and employees, employees who don’t follow directions and company protocols, the customer who is NEVER satisfied and is constantly needy.  If you can’t contain your emotions, you can’t contain your business’ professional reputation.

When someone in your circle has a win, how do you respond?  Are you excited for them or are you jealous?  Envy is the ugliest of all the deadly sins.  It shows insecurity, insincerity, and professional immaturity.  Being a small business owner isn’t a zero sum game. One business winning doesn’t mean you’re losing. If you are so jealous that you will do anything to prevent the competition from getting the customers, you could find yourself either cutting your prices so low, you price yourself out of business, or getting labeled as shady and unethical.  Nobody wants to work with someone like that, and you can find yourself driving business back to your competitors.

How much time and energy could be saved if we recognized when pride was creeping in?  Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you don’t know everything.  That’s it.  It’s okay to seek the counsel of others, especially when it saves you time and gets you to a solution faster.  Plus, people like to help, so ask!  Customers also can spot when you don’t know something from a mile away.  Don’t lose their respect (and business) by pretending to know something you don’t.  Admit it and then offer to find the answer or solution.  You’ll earn their respect and loyalty by always being honest.  Pride is also showcased in the micromanager who refuses to delegate and thinks they can do it all without any help.  Not only are you wasting time that you could be focusing on expanding and growing your business, but you’re on a sure fire path to burn out, which will in turn lead to you walking away from what you are trying to build.

While we hope you don’t have a “head in the box” kind of moment with the 7 deadly sins, we do want you to realize it’s easy to slip into habits and actions that aren’t representative of who you are as an entrepreneur or how you want to run your business.  If you’re struggling to keep up with the competition or finding yourself feeling jealous or frustrated over the success of your circle, we recommend you do some soul searching as to what’s triggering you.  If you’re in need of someone to help you communicate your brand’s message more effectively to save you time and allow you to focus on the other positive aspects of your business, schedule a call with C3 Specialties.  We can help.