Wednesday January 7, 2015
It’s the New Year – it’s time for looking ahead and evaluating the past. For small business owners, that means finding the courage to make changes and chase after your dreams.
But it’s not always clear what the next step ought to be, especially when you’re committed to growing a business. What does success even look like? And what’s the road to get there?
This isn’t a list of New Years’ Resolutions – these are small mindset changes that can help reframe confusion and stress into clarity and energy. It takes practice for these to become second nature, but in our time spent consulting small businesses, we’ve found that our most successful clients follow these seven secrets to success as part of their daily lives.
What can a mindset change do for you?
1. Think of disappointments and setbacks as opportunities.
This advice may seem done to death, but particularly for entrepreneurs, the setbacks of 2014 can be the opportunities of 2015. Will this be the year you start seeing profits increasing? Even if you didn’t meet your goals last year, this year you have the opportunity to try again, better armed with knowledge and a thicker skin.
2. Start thinking in systems.
If you’ve been hung up on a problem for a long time, maybe it’s time to shift your focus. A great example of this mindset is refusing to consider problems in a vacuum. Before tackling any major issue, it’s wise to make a web of other interlinked issues. This ensures that in trying to fix one problem, you don’t create another. It also reveals patterns that might provide a clue to the solution.
It’s very important to use software tools, to get a better sense of the big picture. But it’s important to make sure that the tools themselves aren’t thinking small. Rather than trying to gather data from many different sources, consider consolidating your resources with a small business ERP. It makes critical thinking much more fruitful, and can lead to growth based on a firm foundation.
Thinking in systems challenges the mind and improves problem solving skills. As the mind becomes more skilled in doing this, it becomes second nature.
3. Focus on what is working, rather than what isn’t.
This is a tip from the pages of the field of “positive psychology,” which means studying healthy minds and interactions, rather than unhealthy. It’s solution-based rather than problem based. Look at what parts of your business are operating well. What is it about those systems that work? Where in the web do things begin to fall apart, and what’s the difference?
Choosing to look for solutions rather than problems is not only a more productive and cheerful mindset; it also paves the way for creative solutions.
4. Never take the easy way out.
If you’re at a crossroads this year, with big decisions to be made, don’t make your choices based on what’s easy. Instead, give yourself a boost of courage and try something a little bit risky, or something new. Maybe it’s a new marketing strategy you thought was beyond you, or maybe it’s deciding to incorporate ecommerce into your website.
Overcoming challenges in a deliberate and proactive way gives you courage to meet the next difficult decision in the same spirit.
5. Speak well of yourself.
No one likes a show-off – that’s probably why so many people couch statements about themselves in disparaging comments. It seems that every compliment someone pays themselves, must be qualified by bringing up a failing or a weakness. The problem with this habit is, your brain is absorbing that negative self talk, and internalizing it.
Cut yourself some slack. You can be honest about your shortcomings without disparaging yourself. Focus on your strengths, and be honest with yourself and others.
6. Ask for what you need.
Many of us are bad at this – we are shy of revealing that we need help, or a break. Entrepreneurs in particular tend to have an isolationist streak. After all, you started your own business to be your own boss and do things your way. Many small business owners see asking for help as a failure, but shifting the mindset to one of curiosity and honesty can make asking for help one of the most fruitful habits for the growth of your business.
Sometimes this means looking for software to make things easier, or asking for help working out a marketing strategy. That just means it’s time to grow!
7. Learn from yourself.
Many of us spend so much energy trying to improve ourselves and control ourselves that we forget a very important truth: The best teacher about your self is yourself. To embrace this truth, look back on the past year and aim to be objective. What stressors did you handle well? Which did you not? Then start looking for ways to help yourself out. If you struggle with organization, use a web tool to help compensate, like a Workflow Timeline.
These tips are all keys to a much larger skill – the ability to grow and adapt gracefully, and without fear. Be honest with yourself this year. Learn to listen to yourself, and to tap into your critical thinking and organizational abilities. New opportunities are unfolding all around you, if you bravely seek them out!