#2 Focus

In any activity or endeavor, it is important to build endurance. Endurance can be defined as the ability to focus on the task at hand and bring it successfully to a conclusion. Some call it fortitude, other call it strength or stamina. No matter what you call it though, endurance is the ability to persevere and get the job done, no matter what.

Usually, when we speak of endurance, we’re referring to physical activity. Yet, endurance is as important in the business world as it is anywhere else. In business circles, endurance usually takes the form of focus. Instead of physical prowess, it becomes the ability to concentrate successfully on a given task. Focus is a critical skill for any business owner, especially in today’s fast-­-paced world where success o\en means keeping several equally important balls in the air at one time.

So, how do you focus on multitasking, a situation where, by its very definition, several things are happening at once? Well, the key to successful focus is attention. When several things are happening simultaneously, you need to concentrate on only one thing at a time. This doesn’t mean that you bring one task to full completion before you start on another. Rather, you spend just enough time on a given task to take it to the next stage of development and then you turn your attention to another task. In some sense, it’s a little like being a mother duck with ducklings. You give your attention to the duckling that is farthest out of line, nudging it forward to where it should be before you turn your attention to the next little duck. Each duckling gets a measure of your focus, but none gets your full attention all the time. In this way, each task gets moved along in turn, and all are successfully completed in time.

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#3 Risk-taking

We’ve all heard the old saying “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Like most old sayings, there’s a strong element of truth in those words. At the risk of following one old saying with another, without risk, there is not and cannot be any reward. There is an element of chance inherent in every venture and unless that chance is recognized and faced, the venture will never become reality.

That being said, there are people who are natural risk takers, as well as people who are very risk adverse. The key to success when it comes to risk-taking is understanding what type of person you are and how this personality trait can affect your business when it comes to dealing with risk. It is important to keep in mind that the secret of success when it comes to business risk is mitigating potential damage in favor of potential gain. Therefore, neither type of risk personality, in and of itself, provides an advantage over the other when it comes to risk management. A risk-­-taker can just as easily overreach themselves as a risk adverse person can under reach themselves.

When faced with a situation that offers reward and risk, the key is to coolly and impartially assess the potential positive and negative outcomes and decide accordingly. Successful business people are sometimes seen as risk-takers simply because they understand the danger in a situation better than anyone else involved. So, while it appears that they are courting disaster, the reality is that the risks involved have been managed so as to control negative consequences.

In this way, the successful business person who takes a risk is very much like a professional; ghtrope walker. To the observer it looks death-­-defying and, perhaps, frightening. To the performer, it is simply another day at the office. Their skill, training, and preparation sufficiently offset the inherent risk to make the feat only appear to be remarkably dangerous. In your own business, don’t be afraid of risk but, at the same time, don’t take the risk lightly. Weigh your op;ons carefully and, when you arrive at a prudent decision, move forward with confidence.

#3 Risk-taking

We’ve all heard the old saying “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Like most old sayings, there’s a strong element of truth in those words. At the risk of following one old saying with another, without risk, there is not and cannot be any reward. There is an element of chance inherent in every venture and unless that chance is recognized and faced, the venture will never become reality.

That being said, there are people who are natural risk takers, as well as people who are very risk adverse. The key to success when it comes to risk-taking is understanding what type of person you are and how this personality trait can affect your business when it comes to dealing with risk. It is important to keep in mind that the secret of success when it comes to business risk is mitigating potential damage in favor of potential gain. Therefore, neither type of risk personality, in and of itself, provides an advantage over the other when it comes to risk management. A risk-­-taker can just as easily overreach themselves as a risk adverse person can under reach themselves.

When faced with a situation that offers reward and risk, the key is to coolly and impartially assess the potential positive and negative outcomes and decide accordingly. Successful business people are sometimes seen as risk-takers simply because they understand the danger in a situation better than anyone else involved. So, while it appears that they are courting disaster, the reality is that the risks involved have been managed so as to control negative consequences.

In this way, the successful business person who takes a risk is very much like a professional; ghtrope walker. To the observer it looks death-­-defying and, perhaps, frightening. To the performer, it is simply another day at the office. Their skill, training, and preparation sufficiently offset the inherent risk to make the feat only appear to be remarkably dangerous. In your own business, don’t be afraid of risk but, at the same time, don’t take the risk lightly. Weigh your op;ons carefully and, when you arrive at a prudent decision, move forward with confidence.

#4 Take responsibility

This one is fairly straigh]orward. President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said: “The buck stops here”. What he meant by that was, as President, he did not have the option to pass the buck when it came to mistakes or failure. He was the boss and the buck stopped getting passed with him.

That’s pretty smart advice for any business owner who wants to be more successful. When it comes to the results of decisions you make, don’t pass the buck. Everyone is happy to take credit for a successful outcome; as well they should if they were directly responsible for that success. That’s the easy part. The hard part is owning up to your own mistakes.

There is somewhat of an inclination to try and blame someone or something else for a negative outcome. The most successful people fight that inclination and accept the blame for their mistakes as readily as they accept congratulations for their successes. They do so because they realize that being the captain of the ship means that all decisions start and end with you. If you happen to make a bad decision then you own that fact, tighten your belt and move forward armed with the knowledge on how never to repeat that mistake. This is a part of the process of growth. It is a process that demonstrates that the greatest opportunity arises from failure. By avoiding the repercussions of that failure, you also avoid the opportunity to grow as a leader and learn from your own mistakes. In other words, you condemn yourself to make that same mistake over and over. So, if and when you are faced with a bad business situation of your own making, don’t pass the buck. The buck stops with you. Accept that and move on.

#5 Mindfulness

Experience is a great teacher. Each day, all of our lives are jam-packed with numerous experiences. A lot of these experiences are everyday occurrences. Others are less common. Occasionally, some are so unique that they are literally life-changing. However, whether the experience is mundane or out of this world, it offers us a teaching moment. Most of us will, hopefully, come away from a unique experience with a fresh perspective. Yet, very few of us grasp the enlightenment that is inherent in the day-to-day activities that, by necessity, take up the majority of our time. Buddhists call this awareness of the learning potential in the commonplace “mindfulness”. Successful business people understand this concept and utilize it to their advantage.

When you begin to be mindful, you see that everything that you do has merit. You also realize that no matter what you are doing, you are capable of doing it better. In business, this means that you begin to pay closer attention to every task. You understand that each task fits into others and together they comprise the whole of your business enterprise. If you take a shortcut or cut corners on the smallest of things it only serves to undermine the largest and seemingly most important jobs. Likewise, when you attempt to do the most basic of jobs to the very best of your ability this mindful mindset carries over into other areas and brings a new level of excellence to your entire enterprise. So, use every experience, every day, as a moment to learn. Be mindful of bad or lazy behaviors and work to change them into more positive and productive actions. Your entire business will benefit from this simple attention to detail.

#6 Be competitive

The world is built, to some extent, on the concept of competition. Everything living competes for specific resources that are needed to grow, thrive and outperform ecological rivals. Sunlight, space, water, and nutrients are utilized to the fullest extent by the smallest to largest creatures wherever they are found and in whatever quantities. As human beings, we are hardwired to engage in this competitive contest too. It’s a part of our genetic heritage and one every business owner needs to embrace.
The problem is that some people perceive competition as a somewhat undesirable trait. This is because these people look at competition as a black and white issue. It is seen as either a win at all cost, take no prisoners proposition or as a watered down and barely discernible version of itself, where consensus and agreement are the order of the day. This imposed polarity masks the true nature and power of competition. In reality, competitiveness is neither a black nor white extreme. Instead, genuine competition is a valid force for positive change.
The successful business person knows that healthy and honest competition is the motive force behind innovation. The business world, like the natural world, is driven forward by this continuing innovation that occurs in response to changes in the existing environment. In the natural world, these changes are largely climactic. The life form that best adapts to these changes survives and thrives. In the business world, these changes are socio-economic. The business that best predicts market trends and meets demand most efficiently also survives and thrives.

As a business owner, you need to remember that competition is the lifeblood of the marketplace. It not only drives innovation, it also inspires creativity and helps build new paradigms. Don’t shy away from your natural competitive nature. You are in the game to win the game, so are your fellow business owners. Challenge yourself and challenge them in the process. Through competition, you each drive the others to better products, services, and performance. Each winner shows the way to the next level, the next round, and the next race. Remember, competition is the true heart of business success.

#7 Be persistent

Ok, let’s talk about persistence. For starters, how many old sayings, aphorisms and clichés are there about persistence? The early bird gets the worm. Slow and steady wins the race. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If life gives you lemons make lemonade. The list goes on and on. The reason that there are so many old sayings about persistence is twofold: First, it’s a really important element in success and second, it an element of success that gives a lot of people a lot of trouble. Something that’s as important and troublesome as persistence deserves a lot of clichéd sayings and a lot of attention.

The problem with the road to success is that many people only picture the destination, not the journey. When they do this, they not only fail to see that true success is not a destination (it’s a lifelong process) but they also fail to see the potential problems that routinely occur when striving for success. This means that when these problems do occur, the unprepared person is stopped dead in their tracks. In their confusion, they forget where they were going and why and instead head back to where they came from.

When you are prepared for and anticipate the setbacks that can and will happen on the journey to success, you are ready to repair, rethink and re-engage. The persistent person understands that failure is a temporary condition that affects everyone at one time or another before they reach their goal. They also understand that failure and setback teach powerful lessons that ultimately make you stronger. As Gandhi said, strength does not come through winning. Instead, strength comes through failure. When you struggle and decide not to quit, that is strength. It is also persistence and points up why every successful business owner understands that setbacks are opportunities in disguise.

#8 Network and connect

In business, as in life, you can’t go it alone. It’s said that none of us are islands, but if we were each of us form a vast and interconnected archipelago. Bridges and boats stream traffic between all these islands and that traffic is largely information. If you cut yourself off from this flow of information, either purposely or by mistake, you do so at your own peril. Why? Because the island next to you is going to take those connections and the information they provide and use it to his or her advantage.

Networking is an essential element of every successful business. It provides you with contacts, leads, clients, partners, suppliers and much more. It carries your name and your business reputation further and more efficiently than most advertising. Most importantly, it is an endless source of profit, ideas, collaboration, and support. If you are networking, you should do more. If you’re not networking, you need to start. If you don’t network, your business will stagnate and die.

When you’re networking you need to keep a couple of important points in mind. First, every social or professional engagement can provide you with an opportunity to network. There’s o\en nothing more formal about it than an exchange of information and follow-up connection. Remember, as a business owner you’re always “on the clock”, so to speak. Be ready to take advantage of a potentially lucrative networking situation should the opportunity arise.

Second, when you are networking treat people naturally, the way you’d want to be treated. Offer no strings advice. Often solving a problem for free generates more long-term profit than the cost of the advice or service. Also, listen more than you talk. Silence really can be golden when you take the time to hear what another person is saying.

Finally, always remember that honesty is the best policy. Don’t promise something that you cannot produce. Don’t be someone you’re not in order to close a deal. Be yourself and watch those connections grow!

#13 Be creative

Creativity can be elusive. It’s not something that you can summon at will. When it happens, it strikes like lightning. Yet, like lightning, it can be maddeningly unpredictable. However, because creativity is an essential element of a successful business mindset, it is necessary to understand the creative process and how you, the business owner, can cultivate your own creative juices.

The creative process is largely internal and unconscious. No one ever wakes up and says “Hey! Today I’m going to be creative.” Creativity is all about taking in a lot of influences and letting those influences combines, ferment and morph in your subconscious. Together, they form a sort of mental potting soil where new and different ideas have a chance to germinate and grow. The more things you learn, read, see and hear the more creative soil you are able to produce.

So, as a business owner who wants to be creative, the best thing you can do is get out there and in the world and open yourself up to new experiences. Be curious about many different things. Develop hobbies. Challenge yourself. Do the unexpected. The more you push your own personal envelope the more you are charging your own creative batteries. When those batteries are charged, it is much more likely that inspiration will strike. Who knows where that new idea will take you?

#14 Be flexible

There is nothing more stifling to success than rigid thinking. Rigid thinking leads to rigid behaviors and rigid behaviors lead to dead ends, blind alleys, and creative cul de sacs. In other words, while there is a certain amount of comfort to routine, too much routine can choke off all chances that you will be able to successfully reach your business goals. Why? The answer is simple. The world, including the business world, is constantly changing. Rigid thinking and rigid behavior, by definition, are resistant to change. Therefore, rigidity, in thought and action, spells obsolescence in the business world. Everyone else moves forward while you are left behind in the dust. So what’s the answer to this problem? In a word, flexibility.

In today’s world, information is power, money, and control all rolled into one. The fast and free flow of information is what makes this possible. Everything changes quickly and what is a successful formula or a popular product in one cycle can be, and usually is, old news in the next. The only way to successfully stay on top of this bucking bronco of information and use it to your advantage is to be flexible enough to roll with the changes.

Flexibility is easy to achieve as long as you are not too tied down to any single idea, product, service or manner of delivery. If you keep up with changing market conditions through the judicious use of the flow of information, you can easily spot new trends and adapt them successfully, usually before your competitors have had time to act. The only trick is to not fear change and, instead, embrace it. If change is the only reality in the business world then, to be successful in that world, change as to be your reality as well.