(Published in the Sunday Star Times, September 7, 2014)
People often ask me what I think is the biggest factor in whether a business is successful or not. Is it the product? The location? The website? Customer service? All of those things are important, but the thing that shines through in all the successful companies I deal with is the business owner’s attitude. I come across it day in, day out, and the following true story perfectly illustrates how destructive a bad attitude can be. (Obviously this lesson applies to not just business owners but any person who is a team leader, manager or supervisor – anyone who holds a position of responsibility in a business.)
One of our Business Changing clients is a shopping mall operator who pays us to help some struggling (to “middling”) retailers. Without fail, most of these retailers blame their business troubles on the shopping mall operator charging them too much rent. No matter how hard we try to help them and how much sound business advice we have for them, they’re often not open to hearing it because they’re just hung up on the fact that they think the mall should reduce their rent. They are not prepared to change; they are not prepared to help themselves. Less than half of these retailers take responsibility for the position they are in.
For the ones that take responsibility, while they might not like the rent they are paying, they understand that there is relatively little they can do about it and that if they are to improve (and even prosper) they need to take action and make some changes. You get nowhere in life or business without making constant changes.
The point is, don’t focus on the things that you cannot change (like rent, to some degree, or the economy or online competition or cut-throat pricing – the list goes on) when there are so many things in business that you can own and therefore control your own destiny. It all comes down to business-owner attitude and having a can-do approach to business.
The best business owners I work with are innovative and open to change, who actually enjoy looking at options that could take their business in a new direction. They do not shun technology and change – they embrace it (or at least learn to!). If they have a problem or issue standing in the way of success, they figure out a way to get over it or around it or under it. They certainly don’t stand in front of it, moaning about it, throwing their hands in the air and admitting defeat. In fact, they relish the chance to think about their business in a new way, to rework and reinvent their way of doing things.
For my best business owners and leaders, it’s the things they can’t control that drive them to be innovative and progressive in their approach. They certainly don’t let circumstances hold them back.
Yes, I agree there is the odd situation where you are in too much of a hole to get out, but for the vast majority of you who are not in that position, focus on what you can do to make a difference to your business. What should you be addressing today that will actually see you prospering in a few years time, rather than just getting by?
My challenge to you is to do something about that. If you took the time out to think and focus (really think and focus) on what you need to change or make work better, you have most of the answers. Sometimes it can take an outside view to help you get the blinkers off – there are plenty of business coaches and advisors out there who can give you a hand. All of my most successful clients have had “things” that they had to have addressed or else they would not be where they are today. Be brave and no excuses to not address things ok!