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.

Making a million dollars

It’s easy to make a million dollars on paper. I’ve done it a bunch of times. All you need is a spreadsheet and a good imagination. On the surface, this may sound silly. It may sound like a complete waste of time and a trip into fantasy land.

But the truth is, making a million on paper is not a waste of time. In fact, it is a crucial part of making a million in reality.

Any long-term endeavor requires a plan. It requires an identification of the goal and the specific steps required to achieve that goal. And for any plan to be effective, it must be in writing—it must be on paper.

Without a plan, life is like—as Forrest Gump would say—a box of chocolates. You never know what you will get. Without a plan you leave your business at the mercy of whatever happens. Without a plan you are simply wandering aimlessly, taking whatever action seems expedient at the moment.

So, making a million on paper is actually an important step. This doesn’t mean that we should engage in wishful thinking or idle pipe dreams. Our plan must be reasonable, carefully calculated, and then implemented. Without action a plan is useless.

Whatever your goal, you should develop a plan for its achievement. If you can’t do it on paper, you probably can’t do it in reality. If you can’t envision what you want and how you will get it, you will ultimately get whatever happens your way. A plan is a road map for your business.

Making a million on paper is not only an important part of planning, it’s also a lot of fun.