There are a lot of barriers that can stop a small business from growing or becoming successful and while most of those can be dealt with, one of the biggest faced by entrepreneurs and small business owners is their own internal thinking.  

Entrepreneurs need to have helpful thinking
When we think, we either think in a helpful way or a hindering way. This is not the same as having positive or negative thoughts. A lot of entrepreneurs think they need to be positive not negative, which is more about their attitude – yes, you would like a positive attitude all the time but sometimes things are tough and it can be hard to be positive but that doesn’t mean you can’t have helpful thinking along the way.

Helpful thinking is about saying ‘I can do this rather than I can’t do this.’ It is solution focused and looks forward to the future as opposed to hindering thinking which will make you feel bad and ultimately closes the mind down. Successful entrepreneurs understand that excessive worry or getting overly stressed is not going to help them get where they want to go.

There is a direct link between thinking and behaviour – I call it the TEAR cycle (Thinking, Emotions, Actions, Results). Your thinking directly impacts your emotional response to go and achieve what you want or to make you worried and stressed. It can do both. Your emotions then lead to your actions and if you’re worried, stressed and depressed, your actions might become avoidant. You don’t deal with the things that you need to which leads to poor results.

On the other hand, if your thinking is good you have a strong emotional response which gives you the energy to be proactive and take good actions which in turn leads to good results. We can change most thought patterns in our head over a 6-8 week period even if we’ve had that thought pattern for many years. We do it by using different tools like self-taught triggers that we put in place. It’s one reason why successful entrepreneurs often have regular coaching sessions to help them challenge their thinking. A self talk trigger can be anything from a written note to a screen saver or song. As long as when you read it, see it, or listen to it, it helps you think in a helpful way.

So have helpful thinking and if your thinking is not helpful, recognise when it’s hindering and then seek out some help to change the way you think.

I get knocked down and I get up again
Another key behaviour that successful entrepreneurs exhibit is their ability to recover from failure and go again. Look at some of the famous entrepreneurs in this country and you’ll often find they’ve failed in the past. Peter Jones – of Dragons’ Den fame – is a good example of someone who lost it all and then started again.

Adapt to survive
Being able to adapt and do something different as the world changes is another critical trait of the successful entrepreneur. Charles Darwin’s view that it’s not the strongest species who survive but the ones most adaptable to change is very applicable for entrepreneurs. But it’s a fine balance – entrepreneurs need to be able to try new things but also realise when they need to stop if something isn’t working.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If you want something new you need to do something different, but to do something different in a sustainable way then you need to change the way you think.

No one can do it alone
A successful entrepreneur will also build a team of people
– either employees or associates – around themselves who buy into the same vision and who can support them when things don’t go right but can celebrate when things are going great. Don’t be a loner – you can’t possibly do it on your own.

Why does it go wrong?
All entrepreneurs experience failure but avoidance behaviour can exacerbate failure. When things are going wrong, the temptation to bury your head in the sand rather than address the problem will not solve the issue. Again, it’s important to not beat yourself up when things go wrong – try and learn from it and work out what you can do differently next time.

Overnight success takes 20 years
A perception that people have of successful entrepreneurs is that most of them have achieved overnight success. What people don’t see is that it can take 20 years of hard work to become an ‘overnight success’. Walt Disney took five years to get a loan of $20,000 to make his first cartoon for example. Colonel Sanders of KFC fame was in his mid-60s with little or no money but a recipe for his grandmother’s fried chicken recipe and it took him nine months and hundreds of restaurants before someone bought the recipe from him. He was nearly 90 before he became an ‘overnight success’.

Entrepreneurial success rarely comes quickly and easily but those who have an open mind and the ability to think in a helpful way, in addition to persistence and a willingness to adapt – don’t do what you’ve always done or you’ll get what you’ve always got – will give themselves the best chance of success.

To find out more go to Solution Focused