Small Business by C. Norman Beckert: A positive attitude lays the foundation for successful results

C. Norman Beckert, Idaho district director for SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired ExecutivesMay 7, 2013 

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C. Norman Beckert

In the past, several insightful articles have resulted from discussions with Joe and Roy, two of my associates at SCORE. Joe and Roy have both owned and managed successful small businesses such that the sale of their businesses allowed both men to pursue other interests. At a recent meeting I asked Joe and Roy if “thinking success” made a difference in the outcomes of their respective businesses. Their answer was a resounding “yes.”

During our discussion we acknowledged that successful small businesses come in all sizes and specialties, but our experience indicates that leaders all share one essential attribute — positive, can-do attitudes that transcend everything they do.

Believing in yourself and your ability to succeed does more than simply sustain you through the challenges of getting your business started. It also spreads through your company and beyond. Roy emphasized that if you “walk the talk” and follow through on your commitments, your managers and employees will perform their jobs with more confidence. Joe added, “your suppliers, customers, and prospects know that you’ll come through for them as well.”

Among the ways you can make successful thinking contagious in your business is by emphasizing long-term potential over short-term thinking. Leaders of high-performance businesses innovate rather than hesitate, and shun the status quo as they seek to spark new interest and enthusiasm inside the business. Roy made it a practice to encourage his employees to take risks, capitalize on successes, and make and learn from mistakes.

He made sure he provided recognition, and that was effective in boosting employee confidence.

Joe commented, “Working productively will help build your business. But generating creativity and having a passion for what your business does, no matter how seemingly mundane, is a hallmark of a high-performance business. But these don’t need to be grandiose concepts. Simply going out of your way to help a customer in an unusual fashion qualifies.”

Collective success of your business as a whole rather than any individual person, project or product, was a business philosophy we agreed upon. That practice will accelerate success by identifying a few profitable activities and making them happen ever more flawlessly and quickly.

Joe and Roy both emphasized the need to open and maintain the lines of communication. Generally, those around you need more information, not less, in order to feel successful. Let people know where you, the business owner, thinks the business needs to go, the problems it faces and what keeps you up at night. That makes it easier for you to involve your employees in finding solutions to the biggest challenges facing the business. Ask their advice about what you are doing right, what hurts and what needs fixing. That way, everyone has a bigger stake in your and their success.

Joe and Roy commented that while it is often true that you shouldn’t tinker with something that isn’t broken, always be open to new ideas, even those that sound silly or outlandish. That off-the-wall suggestion just might be your “next big thing.”

They made it a practice to reward their employees for extra effort, often with cash or an incentive such as time off or a company lunch. Roy said his practice was to initiate recognition with a handshake and a sincere “thank you.”

Yes, thinking success is a major contributor to achieving successful results.

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