You’ve probably heard the saying:
‘Success is an inside job.’
And when it comes to building your own business, this is 110% true. Your mindset will make or break your ability to establish and run a profitable business. I’ve learned many lessons along the way to building my coaching practice since 2013 – often the hard way. Here are the top ten mindset shifts you’ll need to make if you want to succeed in business in the long term.
1. Your business is not about you.
It’s a wonderful thing to go into business because you want to make a difference, or you want to have more freedom and flexibility, or be your own boss. But you won’t survive long in business unless you’re selling something that people need. You might have come up with the best idea or service, but if no one wants it or needs it, you’ll never get off the ground. Your job is to figure out the ‘pain points’ that people in your niche struggle with, and then find a way to help them overcome those challenges. And do it in a way that’s different to your competitors. The number one reason why businesses fail is that “they start making things that people don’t want.” Obviously you want to do something you love and enjoy so you can go the distance, but make sure it’s something people need – and if you do, you will succeed.
2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
If you’re going into business for a quick solution to your money problems, you’re in for a big disappointment. You have to be in it for the long haul. It takes time and persistence to build a profitable business from the ground up. You need to take consistent actions each and every day and have realistic expectations. It won’t happen overnight. Statistics show that it takes three to five years to get to the point where you’re turning a healthy profit. And if you’re someone who likes to word hard and see instant results (I can relate!), this can be challenging.
In those start-up years, try to view your time and efforts as a process of planting seeds, with the intention to eventually harvest a crop. You’re spending your time sowing the ground, making it fertile, and nurturing your seedlings with the right conditions. Over a period of time, your seeds will start to bloom and you’ll eventually harvest the rewards. If you’re willing to stick it out with persistence and dedication, you will absolutely get there.
3. Know your ‘Why’.
Do you know why you’re in business? There’s a reason you’re pursuing your business. What is it? What’s the specific difference you want to make through your work? Powerful brands have a clear vision that their clients resonate with. Starting with ‘why’ gives your followers and customers a way to identify with you on a personal level (Ranadive, 2017). It communicates your passion, your vision, what you’re working towards as a brand. As the great author and speaker Simon Sinek often says:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Every business knows what they do, and most businesses know how they do it – their systems, processes, or programs. But few businesses know how to articulate their why – their purpose, cause or belief. And as Simon Sinek says:
“Your WHY is why anyone would care about what you do”.
What do you believe? When it comes to your business, finish the sentence: “Because I believe …”. Your job as a business owner is is to articulate your vision clearly, often. Your sole purpose is to show up and “do business with those who believe what you believe”. Forget about anyone else. You’re not here to serve them.
4. Be obsessed with your ‘why’.
You might have started your own business because you’re passionate about making a difference, or doing things on your own terms. But as a business owner, passion isn’t enough – you need obsession in order to succeed. While it can be a wonderful experience building your own business, you also get knocked down and experience rejection, obstacles, and self-doubt on your path to business success. And your obsession will get you through the tough times and inspire you to keep going. It’ll get you back on the horse after it kicks you off. Without a healthy dose of obsession and a clear, heartfelt connection to your ‘why’, you’ll simply run out of steam and give up. Make sure your business vision is one you’re willing to obsess over!
5. Be willing to get uncomfortable – often.
To succeed in business, you’ll have to become friends with fear and discomfort. You’ll be required to step out of your comfort zone and do things you might never have done before. Whether it be public speaking, live videos, networking, or something else you find scary, you’ll need to put yourself out there in ways that are bigger than you have before. You’ll need to say ‘yes’ to anything that helps build your brand visibility and awareness. It’s completely natural to feel fear – you’re literally hard-wired to feel scared whenever you step out of your comfort zone; that’s how we’ve managed to survive as a species for so long. But survival won’t grow your business. If you’re feeling scared – great! You’re on the right path. You’re growing and expanding. And that’s how you get to business success.
6. You’ve got this. Develop an unshakeable belief in yourself.
When you’re building your own business, all of your inner critics will rise to the surface for you to face. Those little voices in your head that say “You’re not good enough” (or other such untrue things) will be right there every time you make a brave decision to step out and put your work out into the public domain. Be prepared to work on your mindset constantly and do whatever it takes to develop a strong mind and an unshakeable belief in yourself and your abilities. Self-belief is absolutely critical to your business success.
7. Build your chicken first. The eggs come later.
One of the big stumbling blocks for many small business owners is the mindset that you need to invest time and money in order to grow a business. Some people go into business thinking they’ll be making great money within 12 months, with little investment, while this is rarely the case. I’m going to use a chicken and egg metaphor here to describe what I mean and compare it to being an employee.
As a new employee, you’re joining a company that already has a profitable ‘hen’ (business structure) that’s laying eggs (generating income). Therefore as an employee, you show up and do your work, and you get paid (you receive some eggs). But when you’re starting out in business, your job is to first build your ‘hen’. You need to go through the process of establishing profitable programs, structures and systems to bring in reliable revenue streams. You can’t expect your chicken to start laying eggs immediately. It’s impossible! That’s like asking your two-week-old chick to hurry up and lay eggs. It won’t happen! It takes time, money, and patience to get your business off the ground. Be prepared to build your chicken first. The eggs will come later.
8. Adapt a CEO mindset.
The mindset of a business owner is drastically different from an employee mindset. As CEO of your business, you know that the onus is on you to bring in clients, deliver great customer service and develop a base of raving fans. You need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Here are some of the qualities you’ll need to develop to succeed as the CEO of your business:
- Be constantly on the lookout for opportunities and follow them up rigorously.
- Get out and network and build relationships.
- Stay on top of industry and market trends.
- Get connected with other leaders in your field.
- Be optimistic but realistic.
- Take calculated risks.
- Develop great communication skills.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Be an inspiring leader.
- Think outside the box.
- Be flexible and adapt quickly.
9. Develop a positive relationship with money.
Starting a business requires money to start, to operate and for you to live on as you get established. If you’re not good at managing money, those bad habits will follow you into your business. Your ability to generate profit requires the discipline of tracking every cent and reviewing your numbers as you go, so you can start to see patterns and be on the lookout for ways to reduce your operating costs and increase your profit margins. Especially in the early years, you have to be frugal. Which is not something a lot of business owners want to hear! You’ll need to get into the habit of saving as much as you can so that you always have a cash surplus. The number two reason why most businesses fail is they “run out of cash”.
The fact is, business growth requires investment.
Become friendly with the concept of Return on Investment. Don’t look at something as an ‘expense’, but view it as an ‘investment’ instead. And how much are you likely to save or get back in return by investing that money? Are you prepared to spend now to save later?
10. Fall in love with planning.
If you’re someone who likes to fly by the seat of your pants, you’re going to struggle in business. Business success requires solid forward planning and strategy. Successful business owners have their entire year of marketing and service activities mapped out, and they have budgets and income forecasts to accompany it. You’ll need to embrace the habit of sitting down at the beginning of each month and mapping out what you need to create, achieve, and deliver. I can tell you from experience that planning is something you can learn to love, especially when you experience how much easier it can make your life – and not to mention profitability!
And perhaps most importantly – enjoy the ride! It’s not easy to establish a profitable business, but there’s also nothing quite as rewarding or fulfilling either. You get to be your own boss, earn your own income, and create something that didn’t exist before that has a positive impact on other people. And if you can truly enjoy what you do each and every day, the whole journey will be so much sweeter.
I hope these mindset strategies will help you set yourself up for success so you can enjoy becoming a successful business owner!
Kate De Jong, Ph.D
Fempire Business Coach for Thriving Female Entrepreneurs