In our business we coach and consult to a wide variety of business owners. Meeting and working with a wide variety of individuals, I’ve been reflecting on why some business owners are really successful and have outstanding businesses while others never really live up to their potential.

Would you be interested in knowing what the differences are that make one person successful and another not?

While there are a range of issues that determine whether a business will succeed, including having a market, sales skills, delivery, handling your finances etc., there is (in my opinion) one major factor that will make all the difference.

This factor is an attribute of the owner(s) which we’ll come to later.

Individuals go into business for a variety of reasons. It may be that you don’t like your boss, you may think you can do a better job than the company you work for, you may have been retrenched and want to use your capital to start a business etc.

So, you put out your shingle and tell everyone you’re now in business and expect people to flock to your door. Now, what often happens is that you wait and wait and wait for your clients to drop from the trees. Well, unless they’re monkeys and you’re selling bananas, this is unlikely to happen.

You now realise that to build up your business takes work. Shocking thought isn’t it! The weeks and months go by and you may get some clients, but it’s a hard slog and you find yourself wondering if it’s all worth it and wouldn’t it be easier to go find another job. Probably your spouse is actively encouraging this course of action too, which doesn’t make your life any easier.

Now comes the moment of truth. You can throw in the towel, or refocus and do whatever it takes to succeed. Please understand that I’m not suggesting that you flog a dead horse. You must have a viable business concept and market to succeed, so the choice that faces you is “do I stay in this business, find another one, or quit”.

HINT: If you are ever going to win the money game and achieve financial and time freedom, you have to create passive income structures. Owning a business is one of the most lucrative ways of achieving this aim quickly, if you do it right.

To explain the one attitude above all that will make you successful, I’m going to use a metaphor of the warrior. While there are a lot of books and courses around that espouse “The art of war”, this is not where I’m coming from. I’m not advocating that business should be conducted like a war, far from it. In today’s business world, it is cooperation and smart alliances that will win you the game.

So, what am I talking about?

Succeeding in business is more about your attitude than anything else. It is more about the inner game of who you are, than what you do. If your inner core is sound and you are like the warrior who chooses his battles carefully, learns constantly, and always has the end goal in sight, you will eventually win the game of business and life. Warriors may tactically retreat, but they never, never, ever give up.

Let’s take an of example of a great warrior from history, Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 50BC, his men came ashore to find their ships burning behind them. There was no way out and they either fought, conquered or died. The rest, as they say is history.

When the Mongols invaded Europe in the middle ages, they took their entire families with them. Once again, they won or their entire family would be wiped out.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you win the business game or die. This metaphor is about your inner strength and your willingness to do whatever it takes… there is no option called quitting.

I’d like to share with you a very personal story.

When Barbara and I decided to start our Business Coaching and Consultancy in January 2001, we’d both come out of very senior corporate careers, here and in Europe. We individually earned high six figure incomes. I’m not telling you this as I have “tickets on myself”, rather to show that if we can make it in business with the right attitude, you can too.

When we started our practice, we had no clients – none, zip, nada. We had no track record in the industry, no income and only our savings to fall back on.

As the months went by we picked up our first clients but they weren’t anywhere enough to pay the bills and we were watching our money go out of the door – fast.

We were presented with a choice. We could either put our tail between our legs, quit and go back and get new jobs or we could refocus and do whatever it took.

Quitting was not an option, so we needed to refocus.

Refocusing is fine, but we still had to have money to survive in the meantime. If we were to have jobs, they needed to be flexible so that we could continue to build up our business. So we made a decision. We would go and clean houses.

We signed up for Australia’s leading domestic agency and within weeks became the best team they had (their words). Our attitude has always been to do the best job possible no matter what it is. We worked very long days at times – 9 hours at a stretch with almost no breaks. To say it was backbreaking was an understatement.

What’s really interesting is how spirit works. As soon as we committed to doing whatever it takes, we started to get new coaching clients. One of our funniest stories is how we cleaned at $20/hr one day, had a $3000/day training the following one, and cleaned at $20/hr the day after.

We kept up the cleaning and party help for a whole year even after we had enough income from our coaching business to keep us well. Recently we moved into a wonderful new house and continue to expand. I’m absolutely certain it has everything to do with our attitude that no matter what, we would find a way.

I’m always fascinated by the people who tell me that they couldn’t start their own businesses as they couldn’t leave their creature comforts behind and take the risk. We learned to be very resourceful when we didn’t have enough money – ate lots of soup, nothing got wasted and we still lived a happy life. We have carried on the lessons into our coaching practice and one of our key differentiators is that we have been there and done it. As the old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

In closing, let me ask you…

What are you going to do with your life? Are you going to miss out on having a great life because you’ve already got a good one? Are you a true warrior who goes for your dreams and never quits when the going gets rough?

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