Is ego bad for business?

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is ego bad for business

I’m a Grey’s Anatomy binge watcher and remember Christina making the statement that as surgeons, a certain amount of self obsession (ego) is needed.

One might think that in order to be a successful small business owner, you also have to have an ego. To get ahead. To be the best of the best [yes, Top Gun fan, as well].

But here’s the thing – as a small business owner, it’s the opposite. If you have an ego, it will likely be the downfall of your business.

Here are 7 signs of an ego driven business and why it’s bad for your business

#1: Unwilling to learn new things

Small business owners with egos are often unwilling to learn new things. Because they think they know everything already.

I knew someone who told me they no longer needed to learn anything new. This person was actually teaching things to people in his business that they had never actually been trained in. That is a HUGE bright red flag for me.

Now, I’m a big believer in doing, getting the work done.

But . . . I also believe in learning. And while I do sometimes think that we are all taking too much time to learn new things, I also believe that there’s always more to learn.

I know I sound like I’m contradicting myself, but as small business owners, we have to find a balance between learning and doing.

Because there are always new things to learn, either things in the world and our industry are changing or there’s just things that we don’t yet know about the business we’re in.

There is ALWAYS more to learn.

We can go deeper into our fields. And doing so not only helps us grow, personally and professionally, it also helps ALL the many people we serve. Our clients and customers.

[Note: someone with an ego generally has a FIXED mindset, rather than a GROWTH mindset]

Here are a few examples:

  • I am jumping down the rabbit hole and learning ALL about product based businesses (my niche has almost always been service based in the past!)
  • A yoga teacher might take a course on the philosophies of yoga [which is usually massively lacking from most YTT’s].
  • Or a holistic health practitioner might take a course on herbal remedies.


#2: My way or the highway

An ego-driven small business owner will overlook opportunities that might arise because again . . . they think they know it all and they don’t need to collaborate with anyone else. They also generally shut out anyone who is doing something different than them, rather than trying to find a common ground. [why I prefer the term open-minded, over “like-minded”, there is much to learn from – and teach to – people who don’t think exactly like us.]

Which brings me to –


#3: They don’t like to listen to others feedback

They think they can do it all when really, they can’t and probably need help. I once worked with a person who would ask me for strategy advice [after all, that is what people pay me to do] but would NEVER take it. My advice was solid and supportive of the business but the client’s ego got in the way of actually implementing what I recommended.


#4: Selfish

Those with an ego generally aren’t considerate of others, putting themselves first at all times. They also tend to think that an idea that was given to them, was their own. I made a recommendation one time for a special email topic and the client told me No. And then two weeks later, the client told me she had come up with a brilliant idea to write an email with the same topic I gave her previously. I just shrugged it off – referring back to #3 – they often don’t listen. And my ego isn’t wrapped up in being acknowledged.


#5: Self-obsessed

Another big red ego flag? The same client told me that there was no one else doing what they were doing. [a quick google search had me jumping down a rabbit hole of LOTS of other people doing exactly the same thing].

One of the things that I teach is to know who your competitors are and what they are offering. NEVER to copy them but just to be aware. Knowing your competitors can be instrumental in helping you build your business and understand your industry as well as your community.

Which brings me to…


#6: Not connecting with their community

Business owners who refuse to involve their communities in their business –

  • asking them for feedback
  • asking them for their biggest challenges
  • or just simply listening, and responding to them –

…generally don’t have a sense of what their followers need / want and will often lack the Know Like Trust factor – a key component to a successful business.

Saying things like: I already know what they want or I know why they didn’t buy from me [when they’ve never actually asked them] is as ego-driven as it gets. The only way to know something is if you engage with your community and ASK them. It builds rapport in addition to the Know Like Trust element.


#7: They’re more than happy to instruct, but they don’t want to mentor

Sometimes because they are worried their mentee may outshine them, or because the mentee won’t live up to their (impossibly high perfectionist) standards and be a “poor” reflection on them.

To wrap it all up:

Having an ego in business will prevent you from:

  • opening your mind to learning new things
  • trying out different ways of doing things
  • asking for help when you need it (which is more often than not)
  • seeking out new opportunities
  • being open to new opportunities when they present themselves.
  • Connecting with your community AND growing a thriving and expanding business

With a big ego, you think you can do it all. AND you know it all. [and no one likes a know it all!]

All of the above will generally kill your business.

So check your ego at the door, practice HUMILITY, and open yourself up to all the many possibilities that lie ahead.

Have questions? Leave a comment below or reach out, I’d love to hear from you.⠀⠀⠀



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