Oct 24, 2020

How Your Mindset Can Impact Your Small Business Success

The rise of corporate America through the 20th century came alongside the development of modern psychology, and these 2 fields were often intertwined as businesses became obsessed with gaining any advantage they could find over competitors. By the 2010s, mindfulness and mindset have become full-fledged industries, while businesses of every size put considerable energy into developing productive cultures and philosophies.

Spending some time thinking about different success mindset techniques can pay dividends for your small business, even if you find your operation is already successful. While some might devote a religious-like following to certain business mindsets, don’t be intimidated. You should explore the various philosophies of success and absorb what you find helpful for your specific situation. Here are a few success mindsets that pack a lot of nutritional value for today’s small business owners.

Growth and Fixed Mindsets  

While we all accept that education is a critical element of society, it is also a common assumption that intelligence and personality might solidify at a certain age. However, this doesn’t have to be true. A growth mindset that embraces challenges and learns over time can guide toward success compared to a fixed mindset that dictates that character is static.

The concept of cultivating a growth mindset over a fixed mindset in business has been heralded for many years by psychologist Carol Dweck.

“Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you?” she asks in her landmark book Mindset. “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

In the end, a growth mindset can help you and your business achieve your full potential, no matter what new challenges confront you each day.

The Importance of Optimism

While it might seem a delusional panacea to prescribe optimism as a way to solve problems, the truth is that many successful people find that a hopeful outlook helps them take on challenges from a position of strength. Even if it results in failure, if you push to stay optimistic, you are more likely to learn from your past instead of just being bummed out about it.

“It doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily shiny and happy at all moments of the day,” Liz Mascolo, an executive at General Mills, said at a recent Adweek conference discussion. “But it does mean that you have an ability to look at a situation, and while it might be tough, you’re able to see around that corner and see the possibility versus the difficulty.”

An optimistic mindset toward business looks both to the future and into the past. By understanding how you’ve succeeded before, you can better size up obstacles as they come your way.

The Risk-Reward Factor

“No risk, no reward” is an often-heard axiom, and many people make fortunes betting on risky ventures on Wall Street or Silicon Valley. As a group, small business owners tend to want to mitigate risk, but not completely. Becoming your own boss is, in fact, a risky concept.

Some businesses rush to risk it all repeatedly, while others try to mitigate risk down to zero, or as close to zero as possible. However, your approach to risk doesn’t have to be a dichotomy. With research and forethought, you can take on risk in a smart way and expand into success.

“Small business owners shouldn’t think small when it comes to preparing for big change,” Deanna Cioppa writes in The Hartford. “To encourage growth while mitigating risk, they should leverage their size, stay flexible, and research outside-the-box options.”

Don’t shun creativity, adaptability, or wild ways of thinking. At the same time, don’t reject research and data. As you become more experienced, you can see how constantly thinking about risk and mitigation at the same time can help you make dynamic but sensible decisions.

Embracing Mistakes

No matter what field you are in, you will make mistakes, you will feel the sting of rejection, and you will face negative consequences. Life and business are full of challenges. But if you have a growth mindset and a solid risk-taking skillset, your mistakes will be learning opportunities instead of just occasions of disappointment.

“Occasional failures are a guaranteed outcome of trying something new and a good signal that you’re rightly pushing some boundaries, so it’s better to practice resilience and be good at problem-solving than to be bad at failing,” Steph Korey, cofounder of luggage company Away, wrote in Entrepreneur.

Mistakes can hurt, but they can also lead to growth.

“Ultimately, your life and your career is made up of many small but innately important choices: some of them will be the right ones, and some of them won’t be,” Korey opines. “Keeping this in mind can help to ensure that you maintain necessary perspective and don’t view every failure as a major setback, but just a helpful piece of the bigger picture.”

Celebrate the Successes of Others

Business is, by nature, competitive, and ruthlessness is always in high demand in America, but you don’t have to define yourself or your small business this way. In fact, embracing and celebrating others can help you grow. Small businesses are typically deeply linked to their community, so it is wise to have a community-oriented mindset.

Gratitude multiplies, suggests entrepreneur Marta Spirk.

“Showing appreciation for someone else’s work really goes beyond a confidence boost for them; it also opens you up to being grateful for yourself and understanding you’re also awesome in so many ways,” Spirk writes.

For most of us, jealousy and hyper-competitiveness do us more harm than our competitors. Approaching the world from a position of gratitude can do wonders for your well-being, both in business and outside it.  

About the author

Barry Eitel
Barry Eitel
Barry Eitel has written about business and technology for eight years, including working as a staff writer for Intuit's Small Business Center and as the Business Editor for the Piedmont Post, a weekly newspaper covering the city of Piedmont, California.

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