Don’t repeat your mistakes

If you have been in business very long, you have run into problems in your small business. Whether those problems involve employees, or customers, or vendors, they can be distressing.

While it would be unreasonable to expect to eliminate every problem, too often the owner simply accepts problems and frustrations as a normal part of business. And so, little is done to address the cause of the problems that do occur.

I am a firm believer that we shouldn’t casually accept problems in our business. A problem indicates that a mistake was made, whether from simply not knowing better or outright negligence, a problem or undesired outcome is a sign that the wrong actions were taken.

If you address the actions that caused the problem–and develop a procedure to take different actions–you will be able to avoid a repeat. In other words, learn from your problems and mistakes so that you won’t repeat them.

Positive thinking is crucial to small business success

Lots of web sites offer a “thought for the day”. One of the best that I have found is from the Napoleon Hill Foundation. (Napoleon Hill wrote one of the best selling self-improvement books of all time, Think and Grow Rich.)

One of my favorites stated:

If you don’t want your life “messed up,” don’t fool around with those who have messed up theirs.

There is a lot of truth in this statement, and it applies in a myriad of ways. Some are more obvious that others. It is probably obvious that we should not spend our time with crooks, drug addicts, and similar types. But there are a lot of other people we should also avoid, and often it can be difficult or even painful to do so.

There are a lot of people in this world who carry a very large chip on their shoulder. For whatever reason, they think that life has been unfair to them, that everyone else gets all the breaks, that success is a matter of luck. They never realize that life is full of opportunities, that the doors we slammed shut years ago determine what doors we can open today. They never make the connection between their choices and the results that they experience. They go through life determined to drag everyone around them down to their level.

They can do this in a multitude of ways, but it always means the same thing: “Don’t dream too big, because you are going to be disappointed.” They believe that dreams are for the naive. And even if you are lucky enough to achieve your dreams, they believe that it won’t last. Something–fate, the wealthy, or some demon–will snatch it away from you.

These are the kind of people we need to avoid. Their negativity is a reflection on them, not reality. That they have never dreamed, or abandoned their dreams long ago, is a statement about their inner turmoil, not the facts. This negativity is like a verbal cancer, and if we are repeatedly exposed to it, it can be contagious. It can drag us down, it can dampen our spirit, it can kill our dreams.

People like this are not happy with their own lives, and they don’t want anyone else to be happy either. They offer nothing but discouragement. They are not a good influence. They have messed up their lives, and they can mess up yours as well.

There is ample evidence that big dreams can come true–so long as they are realistic and we put forth the necessary effort. And it is much easier to accomplish those goals if we surround ourselves with people who also dream big. It is much easier to remain positive–and successful– when we involve ourselves with positive people.

Taking the right path to small business success

If you wanted to climb Mt. Everest, would you seek advice from someone who has done it, or someone who isn’t sure which continent Everest is on? Would you want help from someone who has done it, or someone who hasn’t?

Building a small business is much like climbing a mountain. Both journeys present us with challenges, both mental and physical. Both require stamina, will power, and numerous skills. Both are filled with potential danger and the possibility of exhilarating experiences.

If you were going to climb Everest you would likely seek an experienced climber to guide you. Rather than face the unknown without assistance, you would likely desire someone to help you avoid the chasms and take the easiest route.

Similarly with your business. Why climb that mountain alone? Why venture into the wilderness without a guide? You may not be facing gale winds and Yeti, but the consequences of a business failure can be nearly as devastating.

Most small businesses fail. Business success is an uphill climb, filled with uncertainty and many potential paths to choose from. While taking the right path will not guarantee success, it will greatly increase the odds. Taking the right path is much easier with a guide by your side.

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