Five entrepreneurial mindsets that lead to business failure

Do you know what your business’ secret weapon is? It’s not your amazing product or service. It’s not your social media whizz. Or your brilliant marketing strategy. It’s much simpler. It’s you.

You are at the heart of your business – and of it’s success (or failure). And you are only as good as your mindset.

So, to help you ensure that you have the right mindset for entrepreneurial success, here are five business mindsets you really, really want to avoid.

Mindset one: I will just let things happen naturally

Realistically, we cannot change everything. There are just some things in life we have no control over. However that doesn’t mean you need to surrender completely without first assessing whether or not you can do something about a situation you find yourself in.

No one responds to a Facebook ad you run? Don’t just give up and dismiss Facebook ads as ‘useless’ for your business. Investigate whether the ad could have been improved – creative, message, offer, targeting, timing… there are many elements that you could change and improve.

And what if some external force impacts your business negatively – a flood hits your region, a recession floors the entire country, or a new law hampers the way you deliver your business? Sure none of these things you can control. But you can decide how you cope with and respond to them.

Clever, resourceful businesses will adapt, find new ways around a problem, and even turn them into an advantage. They won’t be put off by something they can’t change, they’ll just change the way they do business.

A more fatalist entrepeneur, however, risks seeing something bad as a sign that things aren’t working. Facebook ads just aren’t for them. A flood, recession or new law may just be a sign it’s time to give up. Maybe they’ll wait for things to get better, cross their fingers and hope, but they won’t necessarily look for opportunities to change.

If you really want to give your business a fighting chance of success you won’t just let things happen naturally – you’ll roll your sleeves up, dig in and create the change you want to see. Yes, it may not work in the end, but you won’t go down without a fight.

Mindset two: Money is the most important thing in business

Doing business merely for financial gain is not sustainable, especially when you’re just starting out. Indeed, for a long period of time, you may make little or no money from your business.

So if money is your sole motivation for becoming an entrepreneur you’ll soon run out of energy, patience and enthusiasm for what you’re doing. And you’ll certainly struggle to get through the tough times most businesses go through – even the successful ones.

And that’s not all. If you’re so focussed on profit, you’ll overlook the really important things in your business (the things that ultimately do make you money):

  • Your customers’ needs.
  • Innovation and quality.
  • Customer service.

This isn’t to say that money isn’t an essential part of business – it is. But it’s not THE most important part. Start a business because you’re passionate about what you do and genuinely want to solve people’s problems.

Yes, you do need to understand how your business finances work, and how you’ll make (and grow) your profits, but if that’s all you think and care about, you’re unlikely to make the money you dream of.

Mindset three: I am better than everyone else

A successful entrepreneur has to have a healthy level of self-esteem. Sometimes you may even need to believe in yourself and your abilities when no one else does.

But that doesn’t mean you need to be over-confident or arrogant.

A confident person has a positive outlook that allows them to overcome their challenges and weaknesses. An over-confident person, however, over-estimates their abilities and the interest others may have in what they do. They take silly gambles with their business, assuming they’ll pay off. After all, they’re brilliant!

An arrogant person has even less going for them entrepreneurially. Not only do they think they’re pretty great, but they don’t really care much for other people’s opinions and needs.

That means they’re less likely to listen to, and take advice from others. They rarely learn from their mistakes. And they don’t care enough about their customers to put themselves in their shoes, and create products, services and marketing that will appeal to them.

They’re also often difficult to work for, making it tough to recruit and retain the talented people you need to grow a successful business.

Mindset four: I am a failure

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the entrepreneurs who allow failure to define and defeat them. Entrepreneurs who have lost heart through the inevitable challenges and obstacles that come with starting a business.

So whatever you do, try not to let your failures cripple you from moving forward and trying harder. Bear in mind that some of the most successful people in the world have been shaped by hardships and setbacks, and come out stronger and more successful as a result.

As Winston Churchill says: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Take each stumbling block you come upon and failure as a learning opportunity and you’ll be one step closer to your goals. And if you struggle with self-belief, remind yourself of occasions when you have been successful.

Recall your achievements, qualifications, awards. Read your LinkedIn endorsements. Ask friends, family and ex-collegaues what you’re brilliant at. And above all, remember why you started your business in the first place. Look for exceptions that challenge any negative inner voices, and focus instead on where you want your business – and you – to be.

And above all, be able to separate failing at doing one thing, with being a failure.

Mindset five: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

The belief that the successful formula that is currently working for your organisation will still work five years from now is a very dangerous one.

If you want your business to thrive long term, you need to continually look for ways to upgrade, innovate and improve – from your products and services and business structure, to your marketing and customer service.

If you don’t, you risk getting left behind by your competitors (and customers).

So continually look for ways to do things better. Tweak and improve your service. Find new products, or ensure the ones you have now are as good and current as they can be.

Stay on top of social media trends and new marketing innovations. Look for ways to make your customer service even more outstanding. And ensure that your business structure and systems are working as efficiently as possible for you.

And if you find a better way to do something, invest the time, money and energy you need to implement it.

If you need a warning lesson, just consider Nokia. Not so long ago they were one of the most powerful tech companies in the world. But their inability to change direction and innovate led to their fall from grace.

As their CEO said during the press conference to announce their sale to Microsoft: “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.”

And that’s just it. They didn’t do anything wrong. They just didn’t do anything.

So don’t make the same mistake. Keep on top of your market. Know what your customers are thinking, wanting, needing, talking about and buying. Anticipate what your competitors may do next. And don’t assume that what is okay one day will always be enough. Continue fixing it.

Gemma Reeves is a writer and aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business via her company FindMyWorkspace.