Success is All in the Attitude

12 attributes to put you in the right mindset and give you an edge over the competition

By Bob Reiss

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What's important to the success of small-business owners and entrepreneurs? Knowledge, skill and talent.

However, many competitors have the same traits you do. The key to beating the competition and achieving success is mental, reflected in one's attitude, totally controlled by the individual and requires no cash. This holds true in most human endeavors besides business--in sports, the arts and politics.

How many times have we seen the underdog team or player win over the more talented opponent? The difference is often attitude.

These 12 attitude attributes can put you in the right mindset for achieving entrepreneurial success.

  1. Have passion for your business.
    Work should be fun. Your passion will help you overcome difficult moments and persuade people to work for you and want to do business with you. Passion can't be taught. When it wanes, as it surely will in difficult times, take some quiet time. Whether it be an hour or a week, take inventory of all the reasons you started the business and why you like being your own boss. That should renew your passion.
  2. Set an example of trustworthiness.
    People have confidence in trustworthy individuals and want to work for them in a culture of integrity. The same is true for customers.
  3. Be flexible, except with core values.
    It's a given that your plans and strategies will change as time goes on. This flexibility for rapid change is an inherent advantage of small over large business. However, no matter the pressure for immediate profits, do not compromise on core values.
  4. Don't let fear of failure hold you back.
    Failure is an opportunity to learn. All things being equal, venture capitalists would rather invest money in an individual who tried and failed founding a company than in someone who never tried.
  5. Make timely decisions.
    It's okay to use your intuition. Planning and thought are good. But procrastination leads to missed opportunity.
  6. The major company asset is you.
    Take care of yourself. Your health is more valuable than the most expensive machinery or computer software for the company. You don't have to choose between your family or your company, play or work. Maintain your health for balance and energy, which will, in turn, enhance your mental outlook.
  7. Keep your ego under control.
    Don't take profits and spend them on expensive toys to impress others. Build a war chest for unexpected needs or opportunities. This also means hearing out new ideas and suggestions no matter how crazy they sound.
  8. Believe.
    You need to believe in yourself, in your company, and that you will be successful. This confidence is contagious with your employees, customers, stakeholders, suppliers and everyone you deal with.
  9. Encourage and accept criticism graciously. Admit your mistakes.
    You need to constantly work on convincing your employees that it's okay--even necessary--to state their honest opinions even it if conflicts with the boss's opinion. Just stating it once or putting it in a mission statement won't cut it for most people.
  10. Maintain a strong work ethic.
    Your employees will follow your lead. It will also help you beat your competition by outworking them, particularly when your product or service is very similar.
  11. Rebound quickly from setbacks.
    There surely will be plenty of ups and downs as you build the business. Learn from the setbacks and move on. You can't change the past.
  12. Periodically get out of your comfort zone to pursue something important.
    Many times you will feel uncomfortable in implementing a needed change in technology, people, mission, competing, etc. For the company and you to grow personally, you sometimes have to step out of your comfort zone.

Many organizational and leadership shortcomings can be overcome or mitigated with the good attitudes described above. All can be learned except passion, which comes from within. Take time out of your hectic schedule to periodically reflect on these attributes. You may be inspired to act.

Bob Reiss

Bob Reiss is the author of Bootstrapping 101: Tips to Build Your Business with Limited Cash and Free Outside Help, and has been involved in 16 start-ups and has been the subject of two Harvard case studies, in addition to speaking frequently at university entrepreneurial classes.

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