Wednesday, June 15, 2011

For Small Business Entrepreneurs - The Difference-Maker Is Personal Strength

According to the Small Business Administration, only half of all small businesses survive to the fifth year. If you own a small business, you want to do more than survive. You want to succeed in a big way. You can definitely do this, and the purpose of this post is to explain what matters most. The good news is that the concept is easy to understand and is within the grasp of every small business owner. But you’ll have work to do.

All the most successful people work on improving themselves. The late Jim Rohn, one of the great authorities on personal achievement, explained how he went from Idaho farm boy to business man who is offered multi-million-dollar contracts. His secret: “Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

Of course it would be great if there were just one secret to success, one magical system that unlocks all the doors. But that’s not how it works. The truth is there are lots of “secrets,” lots of things you need to know, lots of things you need to do. If you’re still in business, you probably already know many of them.

But there’s one factor that’s so important that if you don’t optimize it, your chances for success are greatly diminished. It’s this: You need to be strong as a person to succeed in small business. While you’re putting out fires and acquiring business know-how, you need to constantly work on who you are—core personal strengths and people skills. This is the No. 1 factor in small business success.

I was reminded of this recently when I read an article on, “The Seven Pitfalls of Business Failure,” by Patricia Schaefer. To be sure, she lists the most commonly stated reasons for small business failure: poor management, insufficient capital, no business plan, expanding too quickly, and no website. But interestingly, her top reason highlights insufficient personal strengths related to business success: passion, composure, drive, determination, patience, optimism, self-development, self-esteem, self-confidence, leadership and compassion.

Any small business owner does what has to be done and achieves the desired results because of four basic reasons:

1. They know how. They have the knowledge, skills and experience to do what they have to do.

2. They want to. They have the requisite passion, desire and motivation. It's really, really important to them. They have wind in their sails.

3. They have the resources they need to get the job done. Authority, guidance, information, allies, systems, tools, supplies, facilities...whatever, you name it. How did they get all this stuff? I don't know. But they did.

4. They have personal strength. They have the heart, grit, character, inner strength—whatever you want to call it—to do the hard things in the face of adversity.

All four factors are important. When you think about it, if you're weak in any one of these areas, it could hold you back.

The difference-maker is personal strength. You may know how, and you may want to, and you may be empowered with a lot of stuff. But when the going gets tough, you'd better be ready to do the hard things. Because if you quit when you're exhausted and discouraged, you'll come up short. If you lie, cheat or steal because it's easy to do and it gets you something you want, you're going to have big problems. If people start thinking you're untrustworthy, you're done. If you don't take action at the right time, what needs to happen won’t happen. If you don't stay focused, you become overwhelmed by things that don’t matter.

For more insights about personal strength, see these articles:

"Dozens of Personal Strengths"

"Improving Personal Strengths - How You Make It Happen"

"Building Personal Strength - Why You Should Consider Doing It"

Strong for Business - special custom version of ProStar Coach for small business owner/entrepreneurs

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use image purchased from

1 comment:

Teller said...

Paul Graham of YCombinator fame has also popularized the idea of Personal Strengths over Product Ideas when he invests in startups: