Photo Credit: dhendrix
Photo Credit: dhendrix

After years of working with entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed that some ignore their intuition and get involved in deals and business relationships that have red flags waving from the start.  Why?  I believe these decisions are mainly based on “lack and limitation” thinking, meaning the entrepreneur feared that if the current deal wasn’t taken, another opportunity may not come along.

I, too, have experienced this fear, and my saving grace was realizing that having someone upset with me because I declined their offer is nowhere as miserable as being mad at myself over foreseeable mistakes that were completely avoidable.  I learned people will take advantage of you to the extent you allow- it was my responsibility to set boundaries, and to say “No,” when my gut was telling me so.

But this lesson doesn’t just apply to business deals.  Trusting your instincts and intuition is imperative in both business and life, and as I’ve practiced this trust, I’ve gained more clarity and confidence when it comes to decision-making.  If this is an area of growth for you, I believe that with some practice, exercising this “mental/spiritual muscle” will make you a stronger advocate for yourself in all areas of your life.  Based on our critical resources of time, money and energy, here are 3 signs you shouldn’t do business with someone.

1. They waste your time.  If someone agrees to meet with you and repeatedly cancels, or shows up late or unprepared to discuss mutually-agreed upon topics, then they are showing you that your time is not a priority for them.  Therefore, there’s no need to prioritize any further involvement with them, because you’re not going to be able to move any project or initiative forward with someone who isn’t physically, or mentally, present.

2. They waste their money.  Key words here are “their money,” because before paying for anything, from company equity to a haircut, you should have an idea of this person’s money management skills and integrity.  If you’re investing in a company, the potential partner is expected to disclose financial documents, so that’s an easier evaluation.  For people just beginning their entrepreneurial journey, having an open, straight-forward conversation about money management can reveal red flags, so I recommend asking what their beliefs are about 401k’s, savings, reinvesting profits back into a business, etc.  If, after spending some time with them socially, you see behavior that contradicts what they told you, then run for the hills.  Easy examples: they had trouble paying rent on the 1st, but are popping bottles in the club the next weekend, or they planned to reinvest profits in their current small business but went jewelry shopping instead.

3. They drain you emotionally, spiritually or physically.  If the person is constantly disorganized, negative, or gossiping, then please believe that any frustration you feel now is likely to continue.  I stopped going to a certain salon because my stylist started telling me about her other clients’ personal lives, right on the salon floor in front of everyone!  I knew I didn’t want to invest in that kind of energy, not with my time or money.  Finally, if a person always complains about a problem, but never offers solutions or isn’t receptive to constructive feedback, then they don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset, because the root of entrepreneurism is solving problems for people.

The main point here is if someone exhibits a certain behavior or habit from the start, that’s not going to change after you sign on the dotted line and become their business partner, consultant or their client.  As Oprah says, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Now I’d love to hear from you– what signs do you look for that help you steer clear of less-than-ideal business relationships?  Comment below, and remember your wisdom could be helping a fellow entrepreneur- sharing is caring!

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