24 Key Attributes for Success in Your Business

Shaun H. Ruff

24 Key Attitudes For Success In YOUR Business

What to take YOUR business to a whole new level? This article is designed for business owners who want to take their business to a whole new level and realize results beyond their wildest dreams.  The first of a three part business tips series, it deals with the 24 key attitudes that are fundamental to the success of your business. 

The second article… The 5 Biggest Small Business Mistakes and How to Fix Them deals with the next most important area – Marketing. Without a solid foundation of who your target market is, what they want, how they want to deal with you, then you have no prospects, no customers and no basis for a company.

Finally, the third article in the series… The 5 Key Business Profit Factors  deals with how to make massive amounts of profit.

The Key to Business Success

What is the most important factors of a business’s success?

·         A Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

·         Having the lowest prices?

·         Great sales people?

·         The best location?

·         The best products?

·         Good customer service?

·         A strong local economy?

While these are all factors, based on our experience working with all kinds of different businesses, the most important determinant is YOU – the business owner.  History is riddled with examples of successful businesses that have failed with a new owner and lackluster businesses that have flourished under new ownership.

As a result, you are your most important business project.  As such, you should be investing significantly in yourself.  This includes reading books, examining your strengths and weaknesses, setting development goals for yourself, seeking outside advice, tracking your own personal development and getting a mentor to keep you on track.  You probably spend plenty developing and maintaining your business’s physical assets.  How much time and money do you spend on developing yourself?  

The great motivator and speaker E. James Rohn advises: “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job”.    In my opinion, if you are serious about your business and what you want to get out of life, you simply must dedicate 5-10% of your time to self-development…   And, yes, you must set aside some money to pay for it.  Rest assured, this money will likely give you the highest ROI (return on investment) possible.  After all, you are the person that can increase your profits by 50% or more.

There is no better time than now to make a commitment to yourself.  Get out your calendar right now and block off 30-60 minutes every day for self development, for the next 12 months.  Next, write down specifically what you are going to do with this time for the next two weeks.  At the end of two weeks, you should be in a position to detail your development plan for the next month, then the next quarter.

Another great quote, also from Jim Rohn: “Never wish your job were easier, wish you were better”.    Think about it.  If you are better, you will get better results.  If you wish for it then you are more likely to find a way to make it happen.  If, on the other hand, your job were to be easier, then everyone would want to do it and you would be back to square one.

1.   The Winning Attitude

The journey towards extraordinary profits begins here. There is no greater factor responsible for success, or failure, than your own mental attitude!  As a result, it is imperative that you begin by preparing your mind with the attitudes and perspectives that will set you free to achieve your business goals.  I am not talking about psyching yourself with positive thoughts, although at times this can help.  What I am talking about is adopting ways of thinking that will free your mind to find the solutions to your business challenges.

How you think and what you believe to be true about how you do business is what brought you to where you are right now.  Before you can find a better way of doing business, you must learn a new way of thinking about business.

It is a simple truth that it does not matter if you think you can, or you think you cannot, either way you will be right!

Stop blaming, denying or making excuses and start taking ownership, being responsible and winning.

2.   In Business There Are No Mistakes

Did you know that Edison had tried over 500 times, unsuccessfully, to make a light bulb.  One day he got asked “you have failed 500 times, how can you go on?”  Edison quickly responded “I have not failed once!  I now know 500 ways not to make a light bulb.”  The only failure is the failure to Participate.

If you want to be successful in business, you must be prepared to take calculated risks.  Many things you try will not work the first, or second, time.  You learned to walk by falling down.  It is the same in business.  You probably had parents or that gave you a safe environment in which to learn.  In business, you can seek out a mentor to help give you a safer environment.

3.   What if Contrary Information was “Interesting“?

Have you ever had an argument?  You knew you were right and the other person was wrong.  However, the argument was vigorous because the other person, who was also bright and articulate, was convinced they were right.  So, there you had it, two people both right and both wrong at the same time.  You argued but the other person would not relent.  Several days later, you still were thinking about it when you realised that you were wrong after all. 

Brad Sugars, the remarkable entrepreneur has an approach which has enabled him to continually innovate.  When Brad hears an opinion that is contrary to his he says, “isn’t that interesting?”  This then opens his mind to the possibility that he will learn a new way.

You see if there is an up, then there must be a down, and a left and a right… If you have to prove yourself right, then you cut off all possibility that there may be a better way. 

If you truly want to change the success of your business, you must be willing to change the way you think and the way you behave.  Isn’t that interesting?  

4.   I Know – the 2 most dangerous impediments to Business Innovation

Teenagers KNOW everything. Just ask them. Now that you are a little older you realise that it is probably not polite to say, “I know” out loud to everyone.  So as an adult we listen politely, cross our arms, all the while in the back of our mind saying, “I know”.

Try this exercise.  Close both your fists tightly.  Now try to button your jacket or make a phone call or compose an e-mail.  Your mind is like those closed fists.  There are very few things it can do well when it is closed.

You need to forget the mindset that says “I know”.  It is what you learn when you think you know everything that counts 

Open your mind up, it is not the major realizations that will make you a fortune, it is the fine distinctions that gives you the edge over the rest of the population.  The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit extra.

5.   Business is Fun!

You have decided to go into business for a number of reasons; more money, more control over your time, more free time.  Unfortunately, if you are like many business owners, you let the business take control of you.  It may even suck the life out of you
… but life should be fun.  Since owning a business should give you more life, it only stands to reason that business should be fun!  To have fun, I suggest you treat it like a game.  First, learn the rules.  Second, keep score.  Finally, have fun

6.   Time is Your Most Valuable Asset

If you spend every penny you have you can go out and earn more money.  In this sense the amount of money we can have access-to is infinite. Unfortunately, we all have a finite amount of time on this earth.  If we waste a minute, we have lost it forever.

While this may seem intuitively obvious, amongst the business owners I meet, this one simple principle is the most important yet under appreciated principle of business.  Let me describe one conversation that is representative of conversations I have had time and time again with different business owners.  We will call the business owner Mark 

Peter:  Tell me how your business is performing relative to your goals.

Mark:   Well we are doing OK but I know we can do better.

Peter:  If you know what to do, what is keeping you from doing it?

Mark:   I always get interrupted and I can never find the time to do the new things.

Peter:  Is your business profitable?

Mark:   Yes it is. But I know I could easily do better.

Peter:  How much would you like to make in the next twelve months?

Mark:   After all expenses £150,000.

Peter: Do you believe that this is a realistic objective

Mark:   Absolutely.

Peter:  How many hours a week would you like to work?

Mark:   50 hours per week and I would like to take 5 weeks vacation (including holidays).

Peter:  So Mark, that means you would like your business to earn about $64 for every hour that you work. (£150,000/(50 hours x 47 weeks)). 

After an examination of Mark’s workweek, it was obvious that he was involved in a number of activities that were not worth £64 per hour.  If Mark spends 35% of his time working on tasks that could be handled by a £15/hour employee he is either going to have to work a lot more hours than he wants to, or he is going to have to get his business earning more like £90 per hour for the balance of the time he works.

Now, I am quick to advise owners to be careful with how they spend money.  But Mark’s penny pinching was not in his best interest.  Mark was trying to save paying more wages (about £17,000 per year).  But, by trying to save money it was costing him considerably more.  He was not having fun and he could have been implementing changes that would yield him more like £50,000 in additional profit (3 times what he thought he was saving).

As an owner, the most important decision you make is what you spend your time doing.  Owners that I meet who work too many hours and do not make as much as they want, often treat their time very causally.  Typically, they do not plan their day and tend to be reactive.  Often they do not even keep a calendar. Rarely can they tell you how they actually spent their time.  Conversely, successful owners plan and track their days and their week as carefully as they spend their money. 

I recommend that you emulate the successful owners.  Think about what will give you the best long term ROI [Return On Investment] for your time.  Do not be distracted by saving a few short-term pounds if you have an opportunity to create something that will generate returns for you year after year.

7.   Questions are more important than answers

One night at dinner, a young man asked his wife, “Why do you cut the ends off the roast?” Her reply, “I am not sure.  It is what my mother used to do”.

Some time went by before they visited her mother for dinner, and when they did, they had roast for dinner. So he asked, “why do you cut the ends off the roast?” Her reply, “I’m not sure, my mother always did it that way”. So he made a phone call to his wife’s grandmother and asked, “why do you cut the ends off the roast?” Her reply, “well, I’ve only got a small baking tray”.

So, often we do things, just because it is the way we have always done them, having absolutely no idea why it was done that way to start with.  Ever notice how new people tend to question things?  As an owner you should question why your business runs the way it does.  The only way to perform substantially better than your competitors is to be substantially different from them.  In business, following the crowd will almost certainly lead you to slaughter.  Looking at it another way, have you ever seen a flock of eagles?

To succeed in business, you often have to depart from conventional wisdom.  For many people this will be difficult – especially those who did well in school.  After all, we were taught in school what we had to do to be successful – quite often it involved conforming.

In an increasingly competitive environment, you must distinguish yourself by more than just price. You do this by being different. Think about what makes you unique and then tell the world. 

8.   Take a look in the Mirror

Ever notice that when you are having a good sales week that the next week just seems to get better and you keep closing more accounts with little or no effort.  Or maybe you have had a slow couple of weeks and all the prospects that you meet seem to have trouble deciding.  You have to make multiple sales calls, answer question, after question, after question.  The people you attract in your life are a mirror of where you are at. 

Most businesses are a clear reflection of its owner. Some owners want to control everything and wonder why none of their team ever takes any initiative. Some hate selling and love paperwork, so they have always got their numbers done, but never really sell much.

When I look back at my life I can clearly see times when my successes lead to more successes.  Success follows success. This brings me back again to the key to success in business – you.  Make sure you invest in you.

9.   Business is a Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Remember the last time you bought a car.  You chose something that you thought was distinctive.  Then after you got it you started to notice that you were seeing the same car all over the place.  Or, another example, try right now to NOT picture a purple cow in your mind.  What happened…. You are seeing a purple cow… Your brain has an amazing power to create whatever you focus on. It is called your Reticular Activating System (RAS) and it is like your personal compass.

Your RAS will find proof that the earth is flat if you want it to. In fact, it will find proof that November is a slow month if you want it to. In other words, attention determines direction. Just like the last time you said to yourself; “Do not forget, do not forget, do not forget… ” And, what happened, you forgot. Change your wording to “remember” get rid of the negative ‘do not’.

Another example, if you were to ask a person how their day has been, and they answered, “Not bad”. What is their benchmark on life? BAD, and today is not that. Your RAS is an amazing tool and it will find whatever you ask it to find, so you had better ask for very positive things. Remember to ask for the things you want, NOT to push away what you do not want.

Every day your business meets your true expectations. In other words, if you believe you have to work hard to make money, then that will always be your reality. If you believe you can never get good people then that will be your reality.  You generally make true that which you believe to be so.  So, choose your beliefs carefully.

10.        Listen to the Taps on Your Shoulder

Traveling down the road of life, it is easy to be distracted, get off track and lose sight of the bi
g picture. You have heard the old saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees”.  However, every day you are getting little taps on the shoulder, an idea that you should change what you are doing, a suggestion from someone, a hint.  These taps are just like the cats eyes in the center of the road and the small slits in the shoulder that serve as warnings.  You feel little taps if you stray too far one way or the other.  Either you learn to listen to the taps and adjust your course, or eventually you will run into the sign posts at the side of the road, or worse, oncoming traffic.

In business, we get taps all the time.  Unfortunately, they are a lot more subtle than the taps we get on the road.  They are however, just as important for the health of your business.  If you do not want your business to be run over by the proverbial ‘hit by a bus’, it is imperative that you become adept at listening to the taps.

The most successful business people are very perceptive.  They have perfected the craft of surrounding themselves with other people and then listening – really listening – to what they have to say.

So, be sure to listen for the taps and look for the signs. Sticking your head in the sand never helped anyone.

11.        Build a Business do not Buy a Job

From what I have found, people start their own business for one thing and one thing only: FREEDOM; whether that freedom comes from working for yourself, having more time to yourself, financial freedom, or just the freedom of knowing that you are in charge of your life.

With a successful business, this freedom is truly liberating.  Now your friends that have never had any interest in captaining their own ship (those who work for others) may argue that you are far from “in charge” when exposed to the volatility of owning a business.   What they do not realize is that if you have 100 different customers and you lose half of your customers you still have 50 left. Your friends on the other hand have only one customer – their boss. If they lose that “customer” then they are out on the street!

Unfortunately, most business owners never achieve the freedom they seek.  In fact, about 80 per cent of businesses started this year will be gone in 5 years time.  Moreover, for those businesses that are still operating, most of their owners seem to work harder than any of their people and many seem to make less income than they could make elsewhere. Most end up having the business run them, instead of them running the business. In fact, they end up with the very thing they did not want, a JOB.  And that job may even come with the worst boss they ever had – themselves!  In effect, they have taken great risks and expended vast energy and all they have done is bought employment.

12.         A business needs to be profitable and work without YOU!

If you want to achieve that freedom that all business owners seek, then you should adopt this definition of a business:

A business is – A commercial profitable enterprise that works without YOU!

Why build a job for yourself when you can build an income stream that keeps on growing whether you are there or not. Remember the business exists solely to serve you – the owner; not your customers, or your employees.  Yes, customers and staff are important, but the reason you start a business has nothing to do with them.  It is essential that you adopt this attitude.

13. The only reason you would ever start a business is to sell it.

If you want to achieve true success and freedom then you need to think of your business as your product.  It is what you are building and it is where you are ultimately going to make your profit – selling the business.  That is right; you start by thinking about how you can build your business so that lots of people will be competing with each other to buy your business. 

Very few people ever make a fortune running their business, but many people make a fortune selling businesses.  Look at Bill Gates for instance. Yes, he has made a lot of money selling software, but he became the richest man in the world by selling his business – shares of Microsoft.

Are you too involved in your business? Ask yourself: could I pick up the phone in the morning and tell whoever answered, “you guys look after things, I am taking three months off”.

If you are like the vast majority of business owners out there, the answer is definitely NO.

14.         Working “ON” not “IN” the Business

Ultimately, you have to get yourself out of the day to day of the business. Stop working 9 till 5, doing the work of your business. Else be like most small builders…  they spend all day using a hammer and nails, working IN their business.

Imagine when you started your business that you built it in your mind, and then you put down that picture of what your business would be like when it was finished.  If you are going to sell a product, you must know when it is finished.  It is the same with a business.  You have to finish a business at some stage and have it ready for sale.

As an example, let us say you wanted to buy a new sofa.  How much would you pay a furniture shop for a partially completed sofa?  Likely, only a very small fraction of what a completed sofa would cost.  In fact, if you are like most people you would not even be interested in paying anything.  It is the same thing for a business.

When people try to sell a business that is not finished, at most they are really only selling a JOB.   As a result, these people only get a few people interested and they only ever get a fraction of the potential price.

When you have the finished picture of what your business will look like, then you go to work creating the business.  This way you are working ON the business, rather than just working IN the business.  You should be designing your business to run whether you are there or not.  If you do this then you have a choice, and choice gives you freedom.  You can work in the business or you can spend your time more creatively.  You can keep the business, or you can sell it.  I like good choices like these.

15.        You work hard because your business doesn’t

Imagine a business where you did not have to work there – would the business WORK? I mean, would it function properly?  Would all of the systems and the people integrate to get the result you wanted, the result the customer wanted?  Of course it would.

Almost every business owner I have ever met works so hard (too hard) for this exact reason. Their business does not work, they do. Everything about the business is in their head, and they are the only one who can do anything, so they are trapped.

Most are like this because the owners do not trust anyone else to do the job. For some reason they believe that no one can do it as well as they can. This need to be in control prevents them from growing their business.

Take the step, start to document how everything in your business gets done, put systems in place, teach other people and give them the responsibility to get the job done. (If you need more convincing, Read Michael Gerber’s book – The E-Myth Revisited

16.        Assign Tasks.  Don’t Delegate Just To Abdicate

All great leaders are good at delegating so you must start off-loading tasks as soon as possible.  Remember, time is your most precious commodity.  Since delegation is so important, you must prepare properly for it.  You must make sure that the person that will be doing the task knows what to do.  The worst thing you can do is to abdicate a task to someone.  By this, I mean telling them to do something when they do not have the skills or the training to handle the task.  It is essential that you carefully explain what you want done, how you want it done and what you consider a successful outcome to be. 

This may come as a shock, or at least seem like overkill, but you must document how you want your processes and tasks to be completed.  From my experience, most owners just give their staff a (quite often limited) set of verbal instructions.  The owner then assumes that the employee knows what to do and the employee then assumes what he thinks the owner wants done.  While well intentioned, this feeble attempt at delegation often does not produce the desired results.  You see, it is a simple but important fact about human learning that only about 20% of people are auditory learners – people that receive and easily comprehend verbal information.  The rest of us are either visual or kinaesthetic learners. That is, we need to see (a picture, diagram or read) what to do, or we need to actually do something before we fully understand.  (I have some simple, but effective tools that can help you successfully delegate.)

After you have properly prepared, trained and given your team member the job to do, then let them do it. Do not jump in and save them or they will never learn how to get the job done. If you do, they will “learn” that you are the only one who can fix things.  Guess what, they will be right.  You have to let them fall off the bike to learn how to stay on.

17.        Work for Yourself and go the extra mile

What if you do not own a business yet – that is, you work for someone else?  I suggest that you think like You Inc.  Treat your boss li
ke he is your customer.  You want your customer to be thrilled with You Inc.  You want him to continue to buy more and higher value services from You Inc.  At a minimum, adopting this attitude will be great experience.  Think of your job as market research (for your business) that someone else is paying you to do.  But remember, what goes around comes around, so give it everything you have.  Your boss may even spot a future business partner in you.  Always go that little bit further than you are asked to, give a little extra and you will go far. If you are asked to stay until 5:00 PM, stay until 5.30 PM, just do a little more than were asked.

18.        The key to success is laziness

Which would you prefer – 1% of 100 people’s income or 100 % of your own income.  I would prefer the former, not just because I am lazy, but also because with this attitude my income can be unlimited.  On my own, I can only earn 100% of my own income.  On the other hand, there is nothing stopping me from working with 101 people or 1000 people. (why stop there?) 

If you have ever thought that you will succeed if you just work a little harder, put in some extra time, or just do more of what you are doing right now, then it is time you lifted your head and took a look around you.  You probably know several hundred people who work hard.  How many of them are really getting somewhere?

The aim of the game is not to work harder; it is to create better results with less effort – finding ways of achieving more with less. In other words, to continually leverage your time, your efforts, your money and your knowledge.

If you are paid an hourly wage, you will never earn more than the number of hours you work, but if you and your business are set up so that you are paid whether you work or not, then you have truly understood one of the key principles of success – Leverage.  Leverage is simply – the ability to do more with less. The aim of the game is to create an income stream that flows whether you work or not. Build assets that yield income.

There are numerous ways to create Leverage. You can leverage yourself through people, systems & processes, marketing and finance. 

19.        Your Business is Like A Tree

It is important to view your businesses as a living organism – like a tree.  Your business is either growing or it is dying.  When does a tree stop growing – when it is dying.  The same is true for a business.  You see the world does not stand still.  New products, services and competitors are cropping up everyday.  If your business does not evolve, then it will die.

20.        Change – The Only Constant

It is important to consider your business in the context of the wider business community and the world economy.  Consider the Agrarian, Industrial, Information ages.

In the Agrarian age (which lasted until early in the 20th century) 95 per cent of the population worked the land and the wealthiest people were the landowners. 

In the Industrial age (which lasted until about 1980) those that owned the factories created the most wealth. 

In the Information age those that owned the computers and software production, the telecommunications and have the information and corresponding managing tools created the great wealth.

By considering just the length of time that these ages have lasted we can easily see that the pace of change continues to accelerate at an increasingly rapid rate. In the information age we are living through, it only takes about 18 months for the available information on the planet to double, where it took about 50 years a century ago.

Some would argue that we have already left the Information age.  With constant change, occurring at an increasingly rapid rate, it has never been more important for owners to:

1.      Work ON their business, rather than IN their business

2.      Work harder on themselves than their job

3.      Surround themselves with experts that can give them every competitive advantage

21.        How Do You Compete?

With information moving so fast, people can copy, reproduce and have ready for sale any product or service in a matter of weeks. In today’s economy, you cannot be cheaper than your competitors can for long.  Therefore, the 21st key is that you have to know what information is important for your business success.

The only way you can stay ahead of the market is to out-think, out-sell, out-market and out-maneuver your competitors. Your marketing, sales and customer service is crucial. You do not have to have the world’s best hamburger to sell billions of them.

The next time you have a group of people in a room ask them “who thinks McDonald’s have the best hamburgers in the world?” I will bet that not one person puts up their hand. Yet, who sells more hamburgers than anyone else does?

Then ask the same group, who thinks they can build a better sales, marketing and distribution system for hamburgers than McDonald’s. Once again, no one will put up his or her hand.

22.        Ask for more

If you are going to build a great business, if you are going to make your fortune through business then you have got to ask for a whole lot more than you do right now.

If you shoot for the stars, at least you will make it to the moon.   If you do not ask, the answer is always NO. If you start to ask for more, and be grateful for it, you just might start receiving. Just remember, those who are grateful always receive more than those who just complain about life.

Do not be afraid of someone saying NO. They are not rejecting you, it is just that your request may have come at a bad time or their goals are not quite aligned with yours. Do not take offence … every NO gets you closer to a YES.

23.        Abundance vs. Scarcity

For most people getting more means that someone else has to go without. As intuitive as this may seem, nothing could be further from the truth!  There is literally more than enough to go around.

To succeed in business, you often have to depart from conventional wisdom.  Because, as I mentioned earlier, the crowd is often wrong.

Scarcity was first espoused by English Preacher Thomas Malthus, who concluded that England would run out of food as there were too many people for the available food production.  Yet, even to this day we still produce more than enough food to feed the entire planet.  Because we believe in scarcity; or more commonly known as supply and demand, much of it gets thrown away. 

In business, you have got to realize that there is always more than enough money to go around.  When will you go out and get your share?

Abundance is a mindset, a mindset that understands how technology has removed scarcity; how the old thoughts in economics are exactly that – old. (Read Paul Zane Pilzer’s book – Unlimited Wealth for more on this.)

24.        Work Smarter, not Harder

Just to prove that thinking differently is so important, write down how much money you earned last year. Now add a zero to the end of it. You have just increased your income tenfold.   To make that much money doing exactly what you are doing right now, how hard do you have to work? 

You have to stop working harder and start working smarter.  Remember, people with jobs earn money while business owners and entrepreneurs make and create money.

Some final words

We have been discussing some key attitudinal concepts that will be fundamental to the success of your business.  Yes, there are a lot of other important concepts about Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Operations, Employee Development, Finance, Cas
h Management and Administration.  There is a lot that can be done to help you develop your business in all these areas.

However, years of experience tell us that it is the fundamental attitude that you must embrace first.  Your attitude is the essence of who you must BE as a business owner if you are to get what you truly want from your business. 

This experience is also consistent with the simple BE-DO-HAVE goal attainment philosophy.  This philosophy says that in order to HAVE the things you want in life you must DO the right things.  Before you can do those things, you must BE the person that is capable of doing the right things.

A Complete Waste of Time!

Now let me be brutally honest with you.  Most of the people reading this article will gain absolutely no lasting benefit from having done so. It will have been a complete waste of time!

Why would I say that?  Do I not believe that what we have written has benefit?  Absolutely it does…. but then again, there are many great business books.  Most of them have a lasting impact for only a few people. 

In order for you to get any lasting benefit from the information I have presented, you must take some action.  Otherwise, nothing will have changed for you.  If you do not change anything, you will get the same result that you are already getting.   

Peter Cantelo (Copyright 2008)


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