Mindset is the Key to Small Business Success
Every business starts with an idea, a spark, a drive to produce change. We are ready, activated and anxious to launch. We build our brand, we create our website, we finalize our offering and off we go.
The first several weeks and months fly by. We work hard, we start to build our client base and our business networks, and we get a few early wins simply by the sheer force of our own will. Life is good.
Then one day something happens. We have a challenge. A big client cancels, our product fails, or a surprise expense shows up. Or worse, COVID happens. Suddenly, our confidence is shaken and our energy falls. How do we fix it? What actions should we take? Will this derail our progress or worse our company?
Your Mind is your Greatest Asset as a Business Owner
Ask a roomful of successful entrepreneurs how they began their businesses and you’d be surprised at the difference in the details of their stories. Some knew from the time they were young that they wanted to create a business, some fell into ownership accidentally trying to solve a personal problem. Others have started a company due to economic necessity; they were out of work and didn’t have a choice. Many have launched businesses as a second or third career.
Based on this, there is not an obvious common thread on how their ownership journey began but if you listen closely enough to these stories, you’ll find the one thing that does tie successful business owners together: their mindset. And not just any mindset, but a growth mindset, the term coined by author Carol Dweck in her book, ‘Mindset, The New Psychology of Success.’
Mindset can be defined as a way of thinking; an attitude or opinion, especially a habitual one. Those who possess a fixed mindset, believe that individual talents are an innate gift and that abilities are unchangeable. They believe they were born with certain traits and a certain amount of intelligence and that’s it. The problem is when you view your abilities as unchangeable, you end up spending a lot of energy constantly trying to prove yourself.
When you have a growth mindset, however, “you believe the abilities you’re born with are a starting point. You can get smarter and grow with hard work, persistence, and the right learning strategies. You have a passion for learning, welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn, and seek challenges so you can stretch.
Individuals who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset, those who believe their talents are innate gifts.”
In other words, it is your mindset that determines your level of success.
The Biggest Mistake a Small Business Can Make is To Think Like a Small Business
Applying mindset to small business ownership means the following: looking at your business as an income generating asset and building your model out to achieve that goal.
What does this mean?
It means you actually want to create a business and make money. It means you want to profit from your efforts. You want ROI, (return on investment) for your time and effort. You want a real, sustainable income, and you want business growth.
This is different than deciding to open up a new business as a way to do the work you are most passionate about. Some people who start a small business aren’t necessarily looking to start a business. Rather they are looking for a vessel through which they can do what they care about and are trained to do. The problem here is that once you start viewing your work as more important than running the business, the business will never grow or worse, it will fail.
When I hear clients say “My business is too small. I’m not at the level where I can invest in marketing” or “I can’t compete with x company because I’m too small” or “I want to increase sales and need to hire but I’m not sure if I can make payroll”, these are all “mindset obstacles” that need to be overcome.
Here’s the truth: all big businesses started as small businesses. With a mindset of “not big enough” they would have never grown. This doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy, it just means that there is a path to sustained revenue and growth, no matter the size of your business today. Developing, cultivating, creating a growth mindset will help you get there more readily.
In a growth mindset, you view every aspect of your business as equally important. If you don’t bill your clients or collect payment, then you won’t have a business to run. If you don’t do marketing, then you won’t get new customers and you can’t do your great work. The point is ALL parts of your business are as important as the work output.
If You Own a Small Business, You Are the CEO and You Need to Act Like One
To build a successful business you need to start small and dream big and not just dream: you need to work hard, take calculated risks and apply consistent effort and focus on all aspects of your business to realize business profit and business growth. Your mindset will be the main determining factor in how far you go.
As a career entrepreneur and business coach, I have an intimate understanding of the wins and challenges faced by business owners. It’s scary to move from a company of one to a company of many, even to a company of a few. It’s a commitment to hire contractors and pay them for their services on a regular basis. It’s hard to spend money on training when you don’t have a consistent pipeline. Yes, growth in business can be unsettling. This is our livelihoods we’re talking about but staying stagnant or losing your business are not better options. It’s all about mindset.
The best news is you don’t have to be born with a growth mindset to cultivate one. A growth mindset is something that can be learned. That means that even if you’ve been operating with a fixed mindset in the past, you can change your point of view today and learn to become more open to challenge and willing to grow regardless of the associated risks.
Even better news, working with a business coach can help with this.
As owners, we get way too close to our own initiatives. It’s part of the human condition. This is the reason why finding a trusted, objective third party to act as a sounding board is key to the growth of our businesses as well as our personal growth too. As someone who has been on both sides of that relationship, I can tell you quite confidently that I wouldn’t be where I was without that sounding board, the person who was a few steps removed and who understood what life can be like when you’re seriously looking to build and grow a company. The relationship is invaluable. A business coach will help with priorities, growth management, decision making, help you elevate business performance, all leading to better business outflow and increased profit to your bottom line.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”
Coaching is about conversations. It’s not advice and it’s not “telling” you what to do. Instead, it’s about discovering and uncovering resources and possibilities, finding and trying out different approaches and ways of thinking that can be of benefit to you and your business and help you make the progress you want.
Coaching is also about tapping into the growth mindset, the one that propels you forward, the one that you can’t always access on your own. When you are feeling 100% focused and confident, you will carry this through into your business.
The Number One Rule When Hiring a Business Coach
The number one rule when hiring a business coach is that your coach should have walked the walk, owned a business, and can speak to real-life experiences.
Ideally, the coach you choose will have failed and succeeded – more than once – and won’t be afraid to be honest and share the wisdom of those lessons learned. The best coaches are authentic and radically transparent. The best coaches possess a growth mindset and can help you develop yours.
Make sure to take the time to find out what exactly they’ve accomplished. Ask if they have built, bought or sold a business. Confirm that they’ll understand what keeps you up at night. Reinforce that they understand business growth and how to achieve it. Do they understand change management? Do they understand business development strategy, networking and business planning?
An effective coach will listen to your concerns, give you an honest assessment of your weaknesses, and help you leverage your strengths to maximize opportunities to help you and your business grow.
And the best kind of coach has context. And by context, they have experience doing what you do.
If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, a business coach is one of the best ways to help you get there.