Can you see where you’re sabotaging yourself?

Sabot is a French word meaning “wooden shoe”, and it’s the root of the word sabotage.

Don't sabotage your own success!There’s a story about the early days of manufacturing in France. It’s said that, when workers wanted to protest something (low wages, poor working conditions, and so on), they had a simple and effective way to shut down production: They’d just slip off a wooden shoe and toss it into the machinery gears. Can you say “grinding halt”?

Today’s entrepreneurs may not have these rugged shoes available for sabotage, but they’re very creative in figuring out other ways to shut down their effectiveness and productivity, or even kill their businesses outright. Are you falling victim to any of the following modern-day sabots?

Providing one-off services.

Given that it’s easier to keep a satisfied client than to get a new one, why do so many entrepreneurs end up selling a client only one product or service?

If that’s a trap you’ve fallen into, you’re spending a lot of time finding and qualifying prospects at the expense of nurturing a relationship with someone who’s already indicated they value what you have to offer. This directly relates to sabotage strategy number two.

Focusing on the transaction more than on the relationship.

If your emphasis is on THE SALE, rather than on providing value through an ongoing relationship with your clients, you’re missing a huge opportunity for long-term success.

Not only is it less expensive to maintain clients than to acquire new ones, but you’ve already got their goodwill working for you. If they know they can rely on you to over-deliver, they’re primed to become raving fans, great referral sources, and the type of social proof of your value that money just can’t buy.

Sabotage can become a habit. ACK!!!

While over-delivering can be a great success habit, you’ll want to be careful of going overboard in another area.

Over-promising just to get the job.

We’ve probably all been there. A really exciting opportunity presents itself, and you succumb to the temptation to promise more than you can actually deliver (at least in the stated time frame and for the stated price).

Naturally, this is a great way to shoot yourself in the foot. If you fail to deliver on your promises in a timely manner, you’ve taught the client you can’t be trusted, and you’ve squandered the goodwill you might have enjoyed if you’d been more realistic and honest with them.

Sometimes what’s best for the prospect and for you is to walk away from situations that aren’t a good fit. And if you do decide to stick it out, you’ll want to be especially careful to avoid this next pitfall.

Nickel-and-diming the client.

Yes, nobody likes to eat unexpected expenses. Yes, that’s a great way to fritter away your profit. Yes, passing on every unexpected expenditure to your client is a great way to annoy them and convince them never to work with you again. (Which takes you right back to sabotage strategy number one…)

While there’s no way to completely avoid unexpected developments, you definitely can do enough planning ahead, strategizing, and before-the-fact problem solving to minimize these surprises. That way, you don’t nickel-and-dime the client, nor do you cut into your own profit margin.


Do you have any of these modern-day wooden shoes lurking in your closet? Are you ready to throw them out, but just aren’t sure how to do that? I may be able to help.

I specialize in showing stuck entrepreneurs how to get out of their own way by tossing out what doesn’t work and following through on what does.

Could you and I work well together to get you on a more productive, satisfying track? Maybe. And it’s easy to find out one way or the other. Just grab a spot in my calendar for a no-risk, no-charge, get-acquainted call. We’ll ask and answer enough questions to confidently decided whether or not we’d make a great butt-kicking team.

(BTW, thanks to Karen Neoh for the picture of the sabots; I found it in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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