Enthusiasm Can Be An Achilles’ Heel For Entrepreneurs

According to legend, Achilles helped the Greeks win the Trojan War. The great warrior seemed invincible until he was felled by an arrow to his heel.  Thousands of years later, we still refer to a person’s biggest vulnerability as an Achilles’ heel.  It’s the one weakness of an otherwise strong individual.

Most entrepreneurs are themselves strong individuals. It takes a lot of grit to start a business from scratch.  Success is rare as many business consultants like to point out.  So how can you have an edge?  You need to identify where your enthusiasm leads you in the wrong direction. Here’s some examples.


When it comes to sales, an Achilles’ heel can come in the form of ordering too much of a product. Some entrepreneurs are hyper-focused and believe so much in their product that they can’t see the truth.  No one is ever as excited about the product as the entrepreneur is. Furthermore, there are rivals for the same customers.  Their sales numbers can never match their expectations, even if they are excellent at sales.

Entrepreneurs need to use caution when ordering.  Many storage units are filled with products that were overbought by enthusiastic sales entrepreneurs.  A business model needs to be strictly followed, and emotions, such as excitement, shouldn’t be allowed to govern it.

In another example, a person opens a specialty store for pet owners. They spend more time on their interior design than they do on their marketing.  They can’t understand why customers aren’t coming in droves to see their charming setup.  By the time they realize their error, they have used up their working capital and are headed toward losing the business.

Design is fun, and it’s easy to get distracted picking out the decor of a new store. Yet if that is the focus of your efforts, you are getting off track. It’s time to reassess your priorities before it’s too late.  So many storefront businesses fail because their owner’s Achilles’ heel was decorating.

In the restaurant business, an owner goes all out on the menu and ingredients. To them, the only thing that matters is the food.  They are so excited to show off what they can do in the kitchen. When the influx comes, however, there isn’t enough staff to handle the crowd.  The new visitors write bad reviews and the restaurant is done before it even gets started.

A restauranteur may find it hard to believe that focusing on the food is their Achilles’ heel, but it can be.  Actions need to be balanced.  New business owners need to focus on practical decisions, not just creative ones.

Then there’s the contractor who is so excited about starting a project that he doesn’t think about finishing it. Bulldozers, cranes and other large equipment arrive, destroying lawns or fields.  The next rain comes and suddenly those same machines can’t move through the muck.  At the end of the project, there’s considerable damage, and there isn’t money to cover restoration of the property.

Putting down construction mats is a simple solution. If a new contractor thinks ahead, they can anticipate the problem and avoid it.  Mats keep the amount of dust down. They provide a safe roadway and platform for work.  When everything is over, the mats come up, and restoration is minimal.  Clearly the contractor needs to think about every stage of the process, not just the beginning where the most excitement is.

When entrepreneurs identify the areas where they are most enthusiastic, they may be identifying their Achilles’ heel.  Their next step should be to analyze how much time they spend doing the thing they love most and how much money they are spending on it. 

Enthusiasm has its place, but careful planning needs to be the driving force of your new business. Otherwise your Achilles’ heel may trip you up and end your business before it really gets started.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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