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Minding Your Business: The Thinking that Prevents Success

Posted on 27th Feb 2014 @ 5:35 PM

Two electrical contractors work in the same fairly large community. Their skill sets, market focus, demographics, pricing, and customer service philosophies are essentially identical. At one time, the contractors were actually friends, but one business continued growing, expanding, and enjoying great success, while the other never grew past the initial start-up phase.  

Both businessmen started with the same company size, with only one employee. Three years later, and through great economic challenges, one business now has five employees, a better profit margin, and paid off a great deal of debt. Unfortunately for the second business owner, he had to actually downsize the company, leaving only himself and a bookkeeper to run the business. In addition, he had to sell one of the company’s trucks and continually wonders, “Where do I go from here?”

What made the difference between the otherwise identical companies at the start? When we carve away all the excuses, blame, and denial, it comes down to one critical factor: mindset.

Mindset is one of the core differentiators between success and the lack of success in business. Notice I didn’t say failure. So often for the business that doesn’t find success, as in the preceding scenario, the owner muddles along, earning enough to pay the bills and pay his employee(s). But failure is usually just a heartbeat away. Economic swings (remember 2008?), weather fluctuations, illness — almost anything can change the status quo.

Why is mindset such a paradox in the determination of the success of a business, with the business owner doing things that seem to be opposite to those needed for success, when he strives for growth?  There are four primary factors that create this paradoxical mindset:

1) Comfort zone 

- How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go? What are your fears?
- Do you have a mindset of scarcity — that there aren’t enough customers willing to pay what you price out?
- Do you have a mindset of abundance – that there are lots of customers and you need to define which ones you want and which ones want your products and services?

2) Perception of failure 

- Does the phrase “fail early and fail often” give you goosebumps of opportunity or send you running? Does your fear of failure keep you from trying something new or attempting something unconventional? The phrase “fail early and fail often” relates to the concept of trying new things, determining if they work, moving forward if they do, and trying something else if they don’t.

3) Desire to learn 

- When did you last read a book about business, sales, or personal growth that wasn’t directly related to your industry?

- Do you thirst for new ideas and unconventional ways of leading, managing, motivating, and growing yourself and your team?

4) Attitude 

Ownership, accountability, and responsibility make up the foundation of the mindset paradox, and they are countered by blame, excuses, and denial. Denial means: Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying. The reality of being in denial is that you are lying to yourself.

We use excuses such as not having the time, can’t find good employees, customers are cheap, and customers or employees don’t appreciate what we do — the list goes on. Pick up a mirror, put it in front of your face, and repeat this: “I am the one responsible for my time, hiring, and educating my customers on the value of my services.” This marks the end of excuses.

How does this tie to family or small business ownership? These types of businesses can have an even greater challenge with mindset. The lack of regular accountability for one’s attitude, idea generation, willingness to push the boundaries and get out of the comfort zone, and addressing failure allows for a greater chance of settling into a negative mindset. Therefore, it is easier to get stuck in the status quo of the past, blaming the lack of time to learn and being comfortable where we are and wanting to stay that way — all of which lead to the greater chance of long-term failure.

What was in the first business owner’s mindset that made the difference? Below are the five action steps that brought him to the mindset for greater success than his counterpart:

1) He was eager to learn from others by asking for feedback, and being open to whatever feedback came his way, no matter how difficult it was to hear. He then implemented lessons learned and measured the success it generated.

2) Every day was filled with gratitude. He was grateful when a customer was willing to share how his service could improve (yes, even the best companies get complaints). He had a mindset that an employee problem was an opportunity to learn how to hire, train, communicate, and motivate his team better. He was grateful for all of it — no matter the difficulties.

3) He was a business owner first and electrical contractor second. He viewed everything from the perspective of a business owner. Although he knew the product and services needed to be delivered and delivered well, he also knew that without systems, marketing, strong financials, and strong business fundamentals, he could never leverage himself to allow the business to grow.

4) Marketing and sales were more important than anything else. He was good at sales and worked to improve how he sold on a daily basis.

5) A mindset of hope, responsibility, love, feedback, action, solutions, abundance, clarity, and acceptance was at the heart and soul of the business, rather than one of judgment, victimization, hopelessness, fear, excuses, and procrastination.

Which of the two business owners do you resemble and how will you change your mindset for a better future?


By Janna Hoiberg