How mindset affects your ability to grow your business
Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will likely tell you that mindset is critical to your success in business. Yet, people tend to underestimate how much mindset actually impacts all elements of their life, including business growth. Definitions of mindset vary slightly depending on which source you refer too. Essentially mindset is the way you understand and respond to the world around you. It’s about your thinking, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours and can influence everything from the way we build relationships, problem solve, our creative thinking, how we perceive success and failure, valuing our own worth and more. A lot can be determined about our current mindset from what we prioritise and value. For example, Dr. Carol Dweck talks about the idea of “fixed” vs “growth” mindset and how your mindset can contribute to your success in life. A key part of her work includes the fact that mindset can be changed – the brain can be re-wired over time.
Carol demonstrates this with examples of children in school who went from consistently scoring some of the lowest results on tests to out-performing top schools through developing a “growth mindset.” In her book, “Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential”, she defines “fixed mindset” as “believing your qualities are carved in stone” and the need to “prove yourself over and over.” In other words, people with a fixed mindset often have black and white thinking about success and failure and rarely push themselves outside of their comfort zone for fear of making mistakes. This means they are more likely not to try new things and operate within the boundaries of what they’ve always known and done.
On the other hand, in her book Carol defines the growth mindset as having the “belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” She highlights how this impacts people through focusing on learning as opposed to what you know now - she refers to this in a Tedx talk as "the power of (what you don't know) yet."
How can mindset apply in starting and growing your own business?
The reality is it can impact your business a great deal, in ways you might not have even imagined. Through the coaching work I do, I have seen changes in mindset take place within clients who came to me stuck, burnt out and struggling to overcome the obstacles that were preventing them from getting where they want to be. Mindset in business is about how you operate within your business to cultivate business growth and success.
Here are 5 examples of the ways in which mindset can impact your business:
From building business strategy, to sales and marketing, creativity is important for growing business. You are always required to think outside the box, keep ahead of the game and try to be original in the way you think about your business. Notwithstanding legal and compliance requirements, on the whole the best part is there’s no pre-determined rules when you are in your own business. The worst part is there’s no pre-determined rules. This requires a truckload of creativity.
Creativity simply cannot flourish when you are stuck in your mindset. Sometimes clients say to me, “I can’t” or “I don’t know what to do.” Referring back to Carol Dweck’s work above, the truth is, they don’t know what to do YET. The beauty of this is, with the right support and resources, it is possible to change thinking, become “unstuck” and work out the best way forward.
I’m a great believer in our potential only being limited by our mindset. A great example of this is how Daniel and Justine Flynn and Jarryd Burns built their social enterprise Thankyou by questioning all the rules, building their own movement against great resistance and being creative in their implementation. They did not approach this venture from the perspective of “we've never done this before, it will never work, no one will take us seriously.” They googled “how to manufacture bottled water” and went forth with the mindset of “how can we make this happen?”
We’ve all seen the memes floating around with “failure is the key to success!” What does this actually mean in real life? The failure itself is not the key, what you learn from it and how you grow and evolve is. I saw Paul McCarthy talk at a conference recently and he said “80% of businesses don’t fail. 80% of business owners burn out.” I could not agree more and I believe a large part of this is down to not investing in nurturing and growing mindset.
How do you know it’s time to shake up your mindset? When you’re feeling a bit like a mouse on a wheel – expending tonnes of energy and not seemingly getting anywhere. This is where burn out begins to occur and it can happen at any stage of business. Being able to utilise your mindset to overcome failure, obstacles and adversity, to find the learning and apply it in new and creative ways to move forward is critical. As mentioned above, those who have developed a “growth mindset” are more likely to value the learning than despair over the failure.
When you are your own boss, no one can hold you accountable but yourself. This can lead to a tendency for procrastination. I’ve coached clients who have a lot of great ideas and are struggling to implement them, which was leading to poor sales and failing businesses. To add insult to injury for them, sometimes they would procrastinate about their need to tackle their procrastination!
Procrastination in itself can be complex. If it is hindering the growth of your business, it’s important to think about what assistance and resources you might need to help you move past it. I’ve worked with clients who have been able to develop tools and strategies that they’ve continued to successfully use after our coaching program finished. One client wrote to me to tell me how she has been using our tools and strategies in her every day life, which I thought was brilliant!
I’ve worked with clients whose perfectionism was driving them to physical exhaustion. It would manifest in different ways from feeling unable to let go of or pass work on, overcommitment and a series of hasty decisions out of fear of making the wrong decision (which inevitably lead them into one mighty pickle).
One example of how you can stifle the growth of your business through perfectionism is feeling unable to delegate work to staff members. This can prevent you from spending valuable time working on your business, because you are always stuck in your business. Being in business is hard, right? You’ve invested so much in growing your business that often the thought of handing it over to someone else can seem incomprehensible, I get it. However, it is possible to work with the clients you want to, build better relationships with your employees and free up more time to take your business to the next level. I know because I've worked with clients who have achieved it.
- Value and worth
The other day a talented and completely capable woman told me she was unable to define why people would pay her for her services. As in, what benefit they were actually getting out of hiring her. She was comparing herself to others in her industry and how they approach servicing their clients. She knew her differentiator, however couldn’t articulate why anyone would want to pay her for that and she was doing a lot of work for free. She was stuck in her mindset about her value and worth. This is more common than many people would realise and every client I have worked with has had varying degrees of this issue.
In some cases it can be so crippling that people struggle to effectively market themselves, talk about what they offer to potential clients or charge appropriately for their products/services. Through my conversation with her, we were able to unlock the value of her differentiator and suddenly it opened up a whole new world of thinking. She said “Wow! I had never thought of that before.” This is an example of how the mindset can be shifted and unlocked through coaching.
Often people will look to their competitors for the answers. Trying to model your business on what your competitors are doing, can sometimes cause you to miss the value you individually bring to the table. Understanding and applying your value requires self-awareness, understanding your strengths and the ability to leverage your mindset to grow and evolve your value as your business also evolves.
The good news is, it is possible to grow your mindset and develop innovative thinking tools that can span across all areas of your business. Mindset is an important part of being successful in business and in some cases, can be the make or break component to getting where you want to be.