According to statistics, 50% of small businesses fail within five years. Basically, every other person who starts a business does not succeed. What’s the difference between those who make it and those who struggle and inevitably give up? Let’s find out!
First of all, such a high business failure rate doesn’t stem from a lack of profitable business ideas; there’s a plethora of those. We also can’t blame the competition alone – there are lots of new players every year in every competitive market, many of which stick around for years and become a staple in the industry.
In fact, you can have the best business idea ever – and lead it to bankruptcy. You can also launch something that many people would call stupid or unrealistic, follow your vision, and prove all the naysayers wrong.
The defining factor lies in the mindset of the entrepreneur leading the charge. Your venture’s success or failure is intrinsically tied to how you think, plan, and execute your strategies. By adopting the right mindset, you can ensure that your business not only survives the first five years but thrives and attracts your ideal customers along the way.
In this article, I’ll share six mindset shifts that will help you navigate the challenging waters of entrepreneurship. Embracing these new thinking patterns can transform your business into a success story that defies the statistics.
Why mindset is important for success
Mindset is the lens through which an entrepreneur views their business, and it can either bring you continuous growth or gradually pull your business into the ground.
Consider two coffee shop owners: one approaches the business with a mindset focused solely on profits, cutting corners, using subpar ingredients, and ignoring customer feedback. The other owner prioritizes quality, customer experience, and ethical sourcing.
While both of them are seemingly following the same goal, over time, the second coffee shop flourishes with a loyal customer base, while the first one struggles to retain customers and eventually stops trying.
Having the right mindset for success is the core that defines how you do everything in business. From making important decisions to building a brand strategy to the way you react to occasional setbacks, every little and big thing is affected by your core beliefs as a business owner.
Take social media marketing, for example: it’s very obvious how different mindsets lead to different outcomes. Look at the brand’s Instagram page, and you’ll immediately see whether they care more about making sales or genuinely providing value.
A company with a mindset focused on engaging with its audience will create meaningful content, respond to comments, and build a community. Contrast this with a business that views social media merely as a platform for sales pitches; they are likely to find their follower count stagnant and engagement low.
Whether you are a first-time business owner or an experienced entrepreneur with a bunch of successful ventures, here are six mindset shifts that will help you stay focused on your goals while avoiding stagnation, self-sabotage, and wasting time.
6 Mindset Shifts Every Small Business Owner Needs To Succeed
1. Time is your most valuable resource
Time, not money, is your most valuable resource when running a business.
Managing your time effectively allows you to focus on critical tasks that drive growth, such as developing new products, enhancing customer relationships, and refining your overall strategy.
Understanding the value of your time and its limited nature will help you prioritize your workload so you can achieve your business goals efficiently.
Here are a few strategies to make the most of your time:
- Don’t waste hours on trivial tasks. Delegate or automate them so you can focus on the big picture. Consider how much an hour of your time is worth. If a virtual assistant can free up several hours of your day for a fraction of the cost, it wouldn’t be very smart to keep doing everything yourself.
- Plan your day, week, and month based on priorities and long-term vision, leaving some room for unexpected events. This can help you stay on track with your goals long enough to succeed.
- Utilize time-tracking software to understand where your hours are going and make necessary adjustments to enhance productivity.
- Set artificial deadlines for every task so it doesn’t take more time than it should. Time-bound goals provide a sense of urgency and prevent you from getting distracted.
By seeing time as your most valuable resource, you will make smarter decisions and create a productive environment for yourself and your business to grow.
2. Technology is your friend
The fast-growing world of technology holds immense potential for small businesses.
While big corporations are usually hesitant to change and take months, if not years, to adapt to a new trend, a small business owner can often implement a new thing in just a couple of days and start enjoying the benefits.
Finding the right tools to streamline your processes can make a huge difference in the long run. From automating routine tasks to leveraging AI sidekicks to finish day-to-day tasks faster, there is no end to possibilities when it comes to technology. For example, real estate businesses can take advantage of AI chatbots to assist customers 24×7, answer questions and even schedule meetings.
Those who resist change and ignore technological progress often end up in that 50% of businesses that don’t survive the competition.
Here are a few more examples:
- Scheduling software like SimplyBook.me can save you hours of back-and-forth communication. By allowing customers to book appointments or make reservations online, and automating the payment processing, you’re extracting yourself from parts of the business that can operate smoothly without you, and freeing your time for more crucial tasks.
- Automating things like email marketing, social media scheduling, or content creation through AI marketing software can help you build a solid marketing strategy for your business. With the right tools, you can easily eliminate the need to manage several employees: AI can generate results much faster, and you’ll only need an extra set of eyes to keep guiding it in the right direction.
- Depending on the type of service you are offering, you can find valuable AI business tools for everything from branding and personalization to planning and team management. Embracing technological advancements can give you that edge in business that sets you apart.
In a sense, letting technology into your business is like committing to a mentality of constant growth and adaptability. You’re not just keeping up with the times; you’re adapting to trends and leveraging the available tools to make your business more resilient and customer-friendly.
3. Learn by doing
If you are a perfectionist like me, you may have fallen into this trap before. Especially among new entrepreneurs, there is a common misconception that everything must be perfect before taking the first step.
Some people take weeks, months, and sometimes even years to study every single concept of a new field before they dare to start doing anything. At the same time, there are other people who go all in with the bare minimum knowledge and learn everything in the process.
Who do you think is more likely to succeed?
Two years down the line, the first person seemingly has all the knowledge but is still a newbie. In the meantime, the other person has two years of actual experience in growing their business, making mistakes, and overcoming setbacks. They might not know every possible concept, but they learn enough over time and implement everything right away as opposed to just accumulating knowledge.
Even if you aren’t a perfectionist, the idea of knowing every detail, every possible outcome, or every single step of a big project before starting can be paralyzing. If you take into consideration the fear of failure, the imposter syndrome, and the shiny object syndrome, chances are that you never even get past the learning phase.
And all that effort would be for nothing.
The real magic happens when you embrace the principle of learning by doing. Taking action, even if it’s not perfect, allows you to learn in the process. It provides real-time feedback, opens opportunities for growth, and often leads to outcomes that you may not have predicted.
Think about it this way: no amount of planning can mimic the learning experience that comes from actually doing. You can read a hundred books about riding a bicycle, but you only truly learn how to do it when you get on the bike and start pedaling.
In the business world, this translates to taking calculated risks, trying new strategies, launching new trendy products, or entering new markets. You can create a solid business plan, but you can’t predict every reaction or outcome, and that’s okay. The key is to start, to move, to take that first step.
4. Failure is not the end but a stepping stone
Failure. It’s a word that can send shivers down the spine of any business owner. In our success-driven society, failure is often seen as a sign of weakness or an end to a journey. But that’s a perspective that needs changing.
Contrary to popular belief, failure is not the end but rather a stepping stone on the path to success. It’s an essential part of growth and learning, an opportunity to analyze what went wrong and how to do better next time.
You can fail a lot along the way and still build a successful business. In fact, most people who have impressive results usually have a handful of behind-the-scenes failure stories under their belts.
For a small business, failure can manifest in many ways: a service that customers didn’t like, a marketing campaign that fell flat, or a deal that didn’t go through. While these can be disappointing and even painful experiences, they are not dead ends.
Each failure provides insights, lessons, and wisdom that you wouldn’t have gained otherwise. They teach resilience, adaptability, and perseverance. They show you what doesn’t work, which is often as valuable as knowing what does work.
Successful people and businesses understand that failure is not something to be feared or avoided. It’s something to be embraced as part of the journey. As long as you fail forward and don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again, you still have a chance to succeed.
5. Every customer matters
Attracting clients in today’s competitive market goes beyond merely offering services. It’s about understanding the value of every customer and focusing on solving their specific pains.
Identifying and addressing the problems your customers face creates more than a sale; it builds trust and loyalty. Instead of just creating a product and hoping people will like it, shift your focus to solving the real-life challenges of a particular customer.
Prioritizing every client’s needs leads to building meaningful relationships and a community of loyal clients who feel seen and appreciated. Listen to feedback, be attentive to concerns, and show that you value their opinions.
Cultivating customer loyalty requires understanding, responsiveness, and continuous improvement of your offers. Customers who feel valued are much more likely to come back for more and recommend you to their friends.
If you think about it, there aren’t many small businesses with terrible customer service. And those that don’t care about the people they serve usually don’t stay afloat for long. Make sure not to be like them and choose a customer-centric approach no matter what industry you are in.
6. Long-term vision beats short-term gain
Success in business isn’t just about immediate profits and quick wins. While short-term gains can be appealing, they often lack substance and sustainability.
Most get-rich-quick schemes aren’t sustainable in the long run. Even if you manage to achieve fast success, you’ll likely realize that you failed to build a strong foundation needed to stay in business for years to come.
While you can and should leverage trends to give your business a boost of visibility or technological advantage, it can’t be your main goal. A focus solely on immediate results will inevitably lead to shortsighted decisions that will hinder the long-term growth and stability of your business.
Having a long-term vision means looking beyond the quick profits and considering how your decisions impact the future of your business. It’s about building a solid foundation, investing in relationships, developing products or services that have lasting value, and creating a brand that stands the test of time.
When you have measurable long-term goals, it provides direction, purpose, and a cohesive plan that aligns with the core values of your business. It also ensures continuous improvement and adaptability, which are important for any small business thinking ahead.
While short-term gains may offer immediate satisfaction, they can often be fleeting and unstable. A business strategy driven by a long-term vision, on the other hand, offers a roadmap for sustained growth and success.
The road to small business success is paved with more than just good intentions; it requires strategic thinking and the right mindset. By internalizing these six mindset shifts, you’ll set yourself up for success that goes beyond numbers, creating a thriving and resilient business capable of weathering any storm.
Juliet Dreamhunter is an AI consultant and a certified goal success coach. On her website Juliety, she talks about effective strategies to improve personal and business productivity, as well as reviews popular software and AI tools.