August 25, 2012

 

First Post of Chapter 2 from Realizing a Vision, The Book

Chapter 2 Attitude: Your Attitude Impacts How You Operate Your Business

Change the way you view the world and there will be nothing you cannot accomplish with talent, hard work, and positive relationships

 Your Attitude makes all the difference in the world with charting your business path from the start.  A confident attitude open to learning and discipline will assist you with implementing everything necessary for accelerating growth as your business develops.

The reason for this chapter is to reinforce how important your attitude will be as you grow your business. For some of you this may relate to launching your business.  I will give you examples of difficult situations young entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs found themselves in quite unexpectedly.  The decisions they made or were forced into making were determined by their attitudes.

Section 1: What does attitude mean?  What does it mean with respect to launching and growing your business? Why does having a positive attitude assist in the growth of your business?  Many people will tell you that a positive attitude will get you everything you want.  Unfortunately just having a good attitude does not mean you will get you everything you want.  Therefore I hope these points will shed some realistic perspective on your attitude and its impact on your life as a business owner.

  • Attitude is a behavior.  It is how you view something or behave towards people, things, situations and challenges.  You
  • You have a choice everyday on what your attitude will be towards the day’s events.
  • Your attitude impacts how your mind relates to challenges and growth opportunities.  It shapes your response to whatever happens to you and within your business.  When you keep a positive attitude when faced with problems your mind will find ways to solve them. The problems become opportunities to help you accomplish your mission.
  • Attitude makes all the difference in how others perceive you, either as a positive or negative personality.  When you solve a problem or face a challenge head-on, you will be a good influence with the people watching you.
  • Attitude can be contagious with those around you and make a world of difference with how people respond to you.  It will determine if people want to invest in you and your business.
  • In business it will also determine how people want to be connected with you.  Do they want to do business with you, work for you, and in many cases support and promote you?  Do they want to work with you only at a distance or on a minimal or limited time?
  • In addition, a strong positive attitude towards facing your challenges and fears head on and with perseverance gives your path a more exciting and interesting route. It is much more exciting than when you go down a path to give up.

Speaking from an entrepreneurial viewpoint, why start out with a negative attitude?  I have never met anyone who began a business or even took the first steps with a less than positive attitude. In fact most are optimistic.  Now moving forward while growing a business you may find yourself developing a bad or negative attitude towards customers, competitors and in some cases with staff or Board members. I advise you to always remember your attitude will make or break your business.  A bad attitude destroys companies.

Merely having a good attitude does not mean you will get everything you want in business (or in life).  Combining an optimistic, positive attitude with talent, perseverance and determination does not guarantee success will come.  There will be challenging times that will stretch your positive attitude to its limits. This is when the attitude you choose will determine your future.  The first two examples I want to give you are about two very talented and determined aspiring entrepreneurs.  These two young women found themselves facing unexpected obstacles. When faced with their respective challenges they took responsibility for their attitudes.  Both girls decided their decisions were good for them at the time. You may or may not agree with what they did and you may have done things differently.  However, their decisions led each of them on a path to accomplish their missions in ways they had not considered originally.

(1.) Aspiring Founder of a Website Design Firm:  Mandy Martin has the skills and talent to create websites.  She wants to start a Website design business.  Her goal is to service non-profits and social entrepreneurs.  Mandy has a great attitude, the talent and is excited to start putting the business plan together.  In her market research Mandy learns her growth projections and financial expectations are not very realistic.  In fact the competition in the area where Mandy wants to locate is very intense, more so than she had originally considered.  It would take more money than Mandy had budgeted to attract and build a customer base. The business may not break even as soon as she planned.  In Mandy’s mind there were too many obstacles to launch the business at that time.  However she kept a good attitude while looking at other opportunities coming out of her market research.  Mandy Martin decided it would be better to work for someone else until she has acquired the finances and resources to launch her own business.  One of the resources is time.  Mandy would need time to attract and build a good client base while spending time and money on other areas of the business.

During her research Mandy found design firms that serviced her ideal clients, non-profits and social entrepreneurs.  Mandy’s enthusiastic attitude about designing web sites for her target market assisted her with finding a full-time position.  Mandy’s challenges became opportunities to use her talents to work with non-profits and social enterprises. Mandy knew launching her own web site design firm was in her future, once the time, finances, and location fit together.  What might have happened if the Mandy Martin had taken on a negative, depressed attitude?  If it happened to you, what would you do?

(2.) Aspiring Fashion Designer (this is partially a true story):  Andrea Adams wants to have a fashion design business.  She is very talented, has an exceptional portfolio of her best apparel designs and has even written a business plan.  Andrea has a very upbeat and positive attitude.   However she does not have basic apparel construction skills.  In other words Andrea does not know how to sew and fit patterns.  One option for Andrea would be to find experienced people to work with her to fill in for those skills she lacks. She will need additional money to pay those she hires.

A positive, confident attitude motivates people to develop useful skills, persevere long enough to gain experience, and to work diligently.  In the case of my friend Andrea Adams, how she responds to a need for these skills will determine her future, even when she has others with the skills working for her. The most obvious is to enroll in a basic sewing class and followed by a pattern making course.  What are some other opportunities Andrea might have with a positive attitude, even if it means taking longer to start her own fashion design firm?  Here are some options:

  • Enroll in a fashion design and merchandising program through the adult education-continuing education school.  Many design schools offer continuing education programs at night and on weekends.
  • Show her portfolio to an established apparel design firm and see if they will hire her as a one of their designers.  She will need to accept that whatever she designs for them is property of the company.  This type of job will help her learn about the design process and how to develop a rapport with resources.
  • Take on a partner who has the technical skills and work out an agreement with job responsibilities and commitments.

There will be adverse situations in your life that are not a result of your attitude or actions.  You may have the best attitude in the world and people are drawn to you by it.  However, your positive attitude will not stop natural disasters or problems with the economy from hitting you.  Your business partners or associates may make decisions beyond your control. The decisions are not a result of your attitude. In other words, you are not the cause of the challenges or adversity brought on by someone else’s actions or decisions.  Having a positive attitude, being confident, believing in your own success and that of your business will always be a definite advantage.  What you can control is your attitude, your response, and how you handle the situation. It is usually best to be realistic in looking at the situation and think of the different ways to change the impact on your life and that of your business.

Your passion and positive attitude can change how you view the situation even though you cannot change what happened.  The following is an example of how wanting something so badly and keeping a positive attitude will not change the actions and decisions of others:

(3.) What to do after graduation? Keep the business going or close-it up? I mentored three young women entrepreneurs their senior year at Boston University.  Nancy (as I will call her) and two of her classmates had started an online cosmetic business during their junior year. Nancy was a make-up stylist and knew the market well. The business was her idea and while she had worked through high school for a well-known cosmetic company Nancy developed a good rapport with suppliers.  Therefore in the business Nancy headed up product development and sales. One of the partners managed the financial accounting and the other marketing.  Nancy’s family was in support of her business and let the company use their garage for inventory and shipping. In fact they helped fill orders to be shipped. Shortly before graduation the two partners decided to pursue full-time jobs inline with their college majors. Nancy was taken by complete surprise and devastated. The business was all she wanted to do after graduation. Her attitude went from upbeat and positive to angry and resentful.  Nancy sunk into depression, got rid of the inventory in her parent’s garage and shut down the company website.  As well as being angry with her partners, Nancy was angry with her career counselors at Boston University.  While Nancy’s goal was to run her business after graduation she thought her counselors had not properly prepared her for a job search.

In the end, Nancy accepted an entry-level job she hated.  After a few months she accepted a position with a cosmetic manufacturer based in Florida.  It sounds like a good ending. However consider what might have happened if Nancy had decided the exit of her partners was as an opportunity?  After all Nancy was the one with the knowledge, contacts, relationships and formulas.

  • Most likely Nancy’s family would have stepped in to help her while she decided how to do it on her own.
  • Nancy had professors at Boston University’s School of Management who would have helped her consider different options.
  • Nancy could have taken a part-time job that would give her the flexibility to work on the business. After a few months there would be a good chance Nancy could work full-time on her business. We really do not know.

What is important here is that Nancy’s attitude would influence her decision(s), which would then determine her future career steps.  Nancy will never know the opportunities she passed up by letting an unplanned negative situation turn her winning attitude sour.

What would you have done?

On an added note:  Nancy’s business management professor told me she saw the changes coming.  It was not unusual for college entrepreneurs to change direction once graduation was upon them.  An advantage for young entrepreneurs like Nancy is they can pick themselves up and start all over.  It is easier to start over because they do not have obligations the older entrepreneurs have like mortgage payments, home insurance and certain types of taxes like property and school.

To be continued with “My Story on Attitude”

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