One of the most interesting things about owning a business is, eventually you realize your success isn’t defined by how smart you are. It’s true—you could be the smartest person out there and fail spectacularly in business, or you could be of average intelligence and just crush it. Why?
Success in business isn’t about who’s smarter. It’s about persistence. If you have above average intelligence, then good for you! But, intelligence alone, won’t predict whether your business succeeds or fails. Your daily habits and approach to building your business are what determine its soundness.
This is really important to think about—in business, you will never be limited by your intelligence. The only limits you’ll face will be the result of your own bad habits, poor organization, or lack of mental toughness. Wow. That’s pretty powerful.
So, what do the best in business do that others don’t? Whether you’ve been invited to join MENSA or struggled to make it through high school, doing these 5 things can dramatically increase your business success …
Brush Off the Word “No”
Most people might think being successful in business is the result of great marketing, smart financial decisions, or maybe just “luck.” But I think it’s more about persistence. Specifically, being able to brush off hearing the word “no.” As a business owner, you will hear “no” ALL THE TIME. Like maybe every other word. There is always a reason, be it valid or an excuse, for a client or prospective client to tell you “no.” And hearing the word “no” over and over again can get really frustrating—if you let it. The best in business don’t let “no” get them down. In fact, they don’t even hear “no.” They hear “not now” and move on.
If you don’t have a goal, you’ll never succeed. END OF STORY. Why? Because without goals, where are you going? What are you trying to accomplish? You don’t know! It doesn’t matter if you have small goals or big goals. Without something to work towards in your business, you won’t have a focus and your business will remain stagnant or start to decline. The best in business set goals and create plans to reach them. They are always working towards a new target and moving their business forward.
Read Books—Yes, Actual Books
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, if you’re not reading books—yes, actual books—you will really struggle to succeed in business. As in, you’ll fail. Y’all, seriously. MAKE TIME TO READ. It’s important. Why? Because being a business owner requires a lot of mental focus. When you read, you are training your brain to focus and process information. You are also learning, continuing your education, and making yourself better. Think about it—if you read 10 pages a day, which is not a lot, you would read 3,650 pages a year. If the average business book is 250 pages, you’ll have read 14 books. Do you think your competition reads 14 books a year? If you do, then you’ll have to read more. If you don’t think they’re reading, then how much better off are you for putting in that time? Like light years better. The best in business are always looking to improve. And improving means continuing your business education by reading actual books.
Right now, I’m reading The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer. I just finished The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story, by Michael Lewis.
Listen to Podcasts
I thought about not including this one because I’m sure some of you will take the invitation to not read and just listen to podcasts. You’d be doing yourself a huge disservice. Listening to podcasts should not replace reading because listening doesn’t allow you to train your brain to focus and process information like reading a book does. So why listen to podcasts? Simple, podcasts give you access to business information in real time. Most of the business podcasts out there discuss what’s happening in business right now. There are some great practical applications and ideas being discussed that could be significant for your own business. The best in business keep up with new ideas and aren’t afraid to learn from others and apply what they’ve learned.
Here are the podcasts I listen to each week:
The MFCEO Project
Girlboss Radio with Sofia Amoruso
Side Hustle School
Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield
TED Radio Hour
Eliminate “Can’t” from Your Vocabulary
As soon as you eliminate “can’t” from your vocabulary, you replace it with “How can I.” What would it mean for your business and frankly your life, if you stopped placing limits on yourself and stopped saying “I can’t.” What if you instead started asking “How can I?” Hopefully you can see how powerful this one little word is. Instead of shutting down ideas, you will start thinking of possibilities. The best in business are always looking to innovate and create. They have a curiosity that isn’t limited by “can’t.”
While being smart gives you plenty of advantages, in business, your success is defined by your habits—mainly your persistence to just keep at it.
The last page of my book She’s On Her Toes, includes this poem. I’m not sure who wrote it—there are at least two different authors attached to it and the book I first read it in didn’t attribute it to a known author. I’ve read it hundreds if not a thousand times. And I think it pretty much sums up what business is all about.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit—
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a person turns about
When they might have won had they stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out— (This is my favorite part!)
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,—
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
I’ll leave you with that … success is failure turned inside out. Success isn’t always about who’s smarter, has the best marketing campaign, or is better funded, it’s about turning every opportunity into a way for your business to get better. It’s when things seem the hardest that you know you’re onto something.