Success can be difficult to measure because it means different things to different people. For instance, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, defines success in terms of his level of happiness whereas Microsoft’s co-founder, Bill Gates, feels that success is knowing that you’re loved and that you’ve made a difference in the world around you.
So, the first question to answer as a business owner is: What does success mean to you? Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if you haven’t achieved the level of success that you’d love to see in your life, why do you think that is?
According to the CEO of one of Inc. magazine’s 500 fastest-growing companies, the answer may just be your mindset.
The #1 Mindset that Stops Business Owners from Success
“In my opinion, the worst thing a business owner can do is to settle for less,” says Russell Ruffino, founder and CEO of Clients on Demand. A company that teaches professional service providers how to be more successful with their businesses, Clients on Demand reported three-year growth of 2,326 percent.
“When our company was racing toward $10 million per year in revenue, there were dozens of times where we were tempted to trade the quality of our service for growth,” says Ruffino. “But I had set the goal that as we scaled, our service would constantly improve, even if that meant spending more on payroll, hiring top experts, etc.”
Why Business Owners Settle for Less
Ruffino says that this type of settle-based mindset is typically caused by having the belief that “you can’t have it just the way you want it.” That you must give up something in one area to get something in another. That things won’t work out the way you want anyway, so you might as well find a way to be happy with the way they are.
But that, just isn’t true, Ruffino says, because you ca have things the way you want them. You just have to remember that it is your business and, “you don’t get what you deserve,” he says, “you get what you’ll settle for.”
How do you know if your mindset is causing you to settle?
Signs Your Mindset May Be Keeping You from Success
“You can tell you’re starting to settle when certain things that you would never have tolerated before become acceptable,” says Ruffino. For instance, not too long ago, he read an article about a Wall Street firm that had a cocaine budget built into its expenses.
You may ask yourself, how things could have possibly gotten that far, but Ruffino says that the answer is actually fairly simple. “The business owner compromised one time, then again,” says Ruffino. “Then it became a habit.”
If you realize that you have been settling, what can you do to overcome this type of mindset and start really working toward your personal definition of success?
Creating an Actionable Success Plan
“The answer is to demand excellence across the board,” says Ruffino, “starting with yourself.” This involves setting aggressive goals and pushing yourself to do what it is you want to do. For instance, if you set a goal to scale to $10 million in revenue by 2020 without compromising your vision or values, “define what that vision is,” says Ruffino, “and do not compromise.”
Psychology Today adds that it also helps to stop rationalizing other people’s poor behavior and recognizing that you’re not cursed to a life that prevents you from achieving your goals. Additionally, get used to saying what you want, and saying it often. Tell those around you what you expect and make a commitment to not accept anything less.
“Culture is created from the top-down,” says Ruffino, which means that you must take ownership of everything that happens in your business if your goal is to be successful. “If something is sub-par, it’s your responsibility to fix it,” he adds, because that is “what it takes to stay on the cutting edge.”
To sum it all up, “you should know exactly what your vision is for the company, and never, ever compromise,” says Ruffino. Well, not if you want success, that is.