By Janna Hoiberg
Two business owners are in the same market, with basically the same product and same target market, but the two businesses produce very different results. One is doing well, the other isn’t. One business owner seems on top of their game, the other isn’t. One business is growing, the other business is barely scraping by and the owner of the second business wonders whether it is either time to sell, or just shut the doors.
What is the difference between the two businesses? There can be a number of factors, including the owners’ knowledge and ability to run the business, the systems that are in place and the team that drives the business forward. Pricing, marketing and sales all play a part as well. Many factors play into the successful, growing business. Yet, there is one characteristic that creates the largest differentiator between the two business environments. That is the mindset of the business owner. How do they look at each situation or economic obstacle, every customer, every challenge and life in general?
If the attitude is similar to Eeyore’s- the “woe is me” donkey that hangs with Winnie the Pooh—life is hard, this is what happened, I don’t get the same opportunities as others, the economy is really hurting, it can be a real problem. This is below the line thinking of blame, excuses and denial. Blaming someone else, making excuses as to why things don’t get accomplished, and a lack of accountability or denial that their attitude is the main source of the issues plaguing the business.
Or is the attitude above the line? Does the business owner take ownership, accountability and responsibility for everything in their business? What they cannot control (economy, taxes, etc.) is the 10% of life, but they control the other 90%.
How your day goes is totally up to you, how you react to situations and what opportunities are ahead even through disasters. Steve Jobs got fired from Apple – probably not what he called the best day of his life, yet without being fired from Apple he would not have created Pixar and NeXT which are part of the foundation of the Apple products we love today. Above the line thinking creates results and results don’t require explanations, they speak for themselves.
The critical impact of attitude can be seen every day in the business world. What one business owner may see as a disaster, another business owner may see as an opportunity. People who have spent their lives in below the line thinking don’t even realize the impact it has on them personally and in their families, businesses, customers and potential. If their team is below the line, where did they learn that behavior? The business owner sets the tone for the business. An owner who is below the line will hire staff that will follow that lead and turn to blame, excuses and denial. It is someone else’s fault that the project is delivered late, someone else’s fault that the customer is upset. To change they will need someone to hold them accountable to point out where they are below the line.
As I work with clients on this concept, the tendency is to swing to a point where issues in the business are not discussed with an excuse. This doesn’t mean the business has permission to white wash any issues it faces. It means the ownership and responsibility for changing the issue at hand. If projects are late, that is a fact. The question is what must change in the business to ensure projects are not delivered late.
Too many businesses have gone on for years in below the line thinking and attitude. They stay in business, they grow, they pay the bills and serve customers, but they never reach their full potential. What impact would the business make with an above the line attitude? Profits would increase. Less time would be spent on blame and poor productivity. Productivity would increase with energy due to the positive atmosphere in the business. The examples abound.
The business owner must be ready to make the change. Dissatisfaction with the results must be at a point where it is higher than your resistance to making the change. It is easy to live below the line. It may not be fun, but it is easy and there is a great deal of company. When I ask my clients do they want to be average, the resounding answer is NO. They want to be above average. To make that happen, your mindset must change to one of excellence—above the line thinking— and you will be amazed at the results.
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