Remember the days when your boss told you to leave your personal life at home? In today’s increasingly hyper-connected world, it’s become harder and harder to separate the two: for many of us, our work follows us home and vice versa.
This is especially true if you’re an entrepreneur — how you show up in your business is highly indicative of how you show up in other areas of your life.
Perhaps you’re having a hard time communicating with your partner, and this reflects in your team dynamics. Or you’re allowing clients to cross your boundaries, only to realize it’s happening at home as well. Or maybe you’re focusing so much energy on your business that you completely neglect your relationship.
Since venturing into entrepreneurship, I’ve noticed that my relationship habits are a direct reflection of what’s going on in my business. For example, I would chase the thrill of being with a partner, give it 100% too soon, quickly run out of steam, and move on to the next one. The same happened with work: I got so excited about new ideas that I’d quickly jump from one project to another instead of focusing on what was working and sticking with it. As a result, I ended up wasting a lot of energy on projects that didn’t produce satisfying results.
It’s not the relationship or the business that’s the problem — it’s the underlying patterns that keep people repeating the same self-sabotaging behaviors. Once you break out of these old patterns and replace them with new habits that set you up for success, you’ll see instant improvements in the way you run your business as well as how you handle your relationships.
Here’s a few common relationship patterns that may be hurting your business — and what you can do about it.
1. Giving too much too soon
We’ve all been there: we get so excited about a potential partner that we give away our time, energy, and resources like candy. The risk? The recipient of our adoration gets bored, freaked out, or worse… loses interest because it was too easy.
Same goes with business. You may be so dedicated to providing your audience with free value that you end up giving away too much too soon. This will not only burn you out, it can also cheapen your brand or cause your audience to take you for granted.
What’s worse, you prevent your potential clients from getting the support they really need. They may eagerly consume your free content, but when the time comes to commit via an investment, they may not understand the deeper value of what you offer.
Instead, give people a taste of what’s possible when they work with you while making it clear that they’ll get so much more when they commit long-term. This is where setting up a strong sales funnel comes in handy: offer a small but valuable freebie, then an affordable upsell product, followed by a higher ticket offer so that your clients continue doing business with you over time.
2. Latching on to people
This happens in both love and business: we find someone that seems perfect on paper, and latch onto the idea that this person must be the one for us.
This pattern is rooted in the fear that no one else better is going to come along. In business, it shows up as holding onto clients that might not actually be the best fit for your product or service. It can also look like not firing clients that are making you miserable because you’re afraid of what will happen to your business without them.
Holding on to people out of fear that you’ll lose them is a slippery slope as you’ll allow them to cross your boundaries and lose yourself in the process (say hello to missed payments, skipped appointments, and ridiculous demands).
Take inventory of the current relationships in your personal life and business and ask yourself: are you involved with certain people because you want to, or because you feel that you “have” to? You might need to let go of certain relationships that are holding you back from your longer term goals.
3. Being reactive
Whether it’s with a partner, a team member, or a client, you’re bound to get frustrated at some point. When something isn’t going the way that you want it to, take a step back and observe what’s triggering you rather than defaulting to anger, getting overly emotional, or throwing money at the issue and hoping it will go away.
Rather than snapping at someone or doing things that you’ll later regret, take a moment to pause, reflect, and then respond. This will help you come up with a solution from a grounded place, and build trust and rapport with people over time.
Next time you’re tempted to react during conflict, take a step back and ask yourself how can you show up as the best version of you. Instead of getting mad, ask curious questions to understand where the other person is coming from. Focus on the solution rather than the problem and that’s what you’ll find.
4. Not recognizing your worth
When a partner doesn’t feel worthy of the other person in a relationship, he or she will consciously or subconsciously self-sabotage. To sustain a healthy relationship over time, you must learn to recognize your own worth, as no one else can do it for you.
If you’re questioning your worth in business, just remember that the act of being an entrepreneur is a worthy feat in and of itself. About 80% of businesses fail within the first year and taking on that risk already makes you brave and willing to fight for something bigger than yourself.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, you’re worthy just as you are. Once you recognize that, people around you will, too. This will liberate you to stop playing small and say “yes” to amazing opportunities you might be currently overlooking.
Reflect on what you want to have accomplished looking back a year from now and seriously ask yourself, are you taking the necessary steps towards that goal, or are you settling? If your answer is not a “hell yes,” then it’s a no. Don’t miss out on what you deserve because of a false believe that you can’t have it.
5. Giving up too soon
Whether you’re running a business or working on a relationship, you’re going to hit obstacles. Sometimes, your first instinct might be to give up and walk away. But in doing so, you risk losing out on the longer term benefits that would come from committing.
Our obstacles rub up against our deepest fears, so it’s easy to take them personally and see them as reflections of your abilities or talents. It may like you’re not good enough when all the relationship or business is really doing is holding up a mirror of what you need to work on next.
Even if it doesn’t work out, there is always a lesson and an opportunity to grow from the obstacle.
Next time you feel like giving up, consider the longer term benefits of committing and what you can learn going through the experience. Are you giving up because if feels too hard or you’re scared? If that’s the case, it might be worthwhile to work through that discomfort and see who you come out as on the other wise.
6. We fall in love with the idea of the person but not the actual person
Have you ever met someone amazing and thought they were the perfect woman or man, only to find out that you were terribly wrong? When we put people on a pedestal and hold them to high expectations, it’s only a matter of time until that falls apart and reality hits.
Entrepreneurs do this all the time with their products. As Tony Robbins famously said, the biggest mistake that entrepreneurs make is falling in love with their service or product, and not with their client. By being too focused on the product, you overlook what’s best for the client and what would truly make them happy.
Your ability to care about people’s needs and go above and beyond to satisfy them will be your ultimate competitive advantage. This is how you create raving fans and products or services that deeply serve your audience every time. Focus on providing value, and the people whose lives you touch will rave about you.
To develop a truly long-lasting relationship — whether it be with a client or a partner — change your focus to what you can give rather than what you can get. Both your relationships and business will grow beyond what you could have imagined.