Building a Business

How to Build a $1 Million Business | Part 3 | Your Mindset Matters

Joe Collins, CPA, CA
June 14, 2022

Affiliate disclosure

If there is one thing that separates the successful business owners I have seen from the rest, it’s mindset. The people that build successful businesses get a few things that others can’t seem to wrap their heads around. Luckily, it’s something that can be learned and once you see it, it can’t be unseen.

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In this article, I will break down the key aspects of an owner’s mindset:
  1. Connecting to your personal vision
  2. Protecting your business’ #1 asset: You
  3. Building an abundance mindset
  4. Rallying support for your cause
  5. Ego is the enemy

🎥 Or if you'd rather hear me explain all things in this article, you can check out the video below instead! 👇

As you’re starting your business, and as it continues to grow and evolve, having the right mindset will set you apart, and create opportunities for growth. From the books you read, to how you care for your mental and physical health, how you speak to yourself, and how you speak to others, as cliche as it sounds, it really is the little things that make a difference and can help carry you to success.

1. Connecting to Your Personal Vision

One of the best ways to keep your business on track is to connect your business to your personal goals or compass. When times get tough or we hit rough patches in the business, these deep, meaningful connections to what we value most will get us through those times.

A useful framework to start with is the 6 needs we all have as humans:
  1. Certainty: Our basic needs met
  2. Uncertainty: Mixing things up and having some excitement
  3. Significance: A sense of importance or status
  4. Love, or Connection: having a sense of belonging
  5. Growth: developing our skills and becoming a better version of ourselves
  6. Contribution: becoming more valuable to others 

Everyone’s levels of each need will be different, but the key point is that it’s very hard to move up until the previous need is met. Your business should be a vessel to help you satisfy these needs and the higher those needs are, the more enjoyable your business and your life will be.

A great read for exploring this connection of life goals to your business is Making Money Is Killing Your Business by Chuck Blakeman. As Chuck explains, if you’re only focused on the bottom line and ringing the cash register, you’re probably not making long term decisions and instead are stuck in the trap of being reactive to keep the business afloat on a daily basis.

2. Protecting The Asset (Take Care Of Yourself)

Your mind and your mental state are your most important assets you have when trying to run a successful business. Like a high performance athlete, you need to show up as your best self in the business every day, as you have clients and employees relying on you.  

There are so many micro decisions that you can make on a daily basis that can lead you to be the best version of yourself, but hands down, the number one most important element is sleep.  One of our favourite books that helped us to understand the importance of sleep was The Ripple Effect.  It breaks down how sleep, and a few other elements really play off of each other, and that if you’re not sleeping enough, it’s impossible for you to be functioning at your highest capacity.

It’s easy for us to just tell you to go to bed earlier and be sure to get a solid 8 hours every night.  But we know that’s just not always an option.  If you’re stressed and wound up, you’re going to have a tough time sleeping. If you’re having a hard time exercising, you may not always eat well.  Really, you need to take care of three elements first, and with equal effort to give yourself the chance to find a healthy sleep schedule.  

The Three Pillars Of Brain Health

Like Greg Wells talks about in The Ripple Effect, sleep, exercise, and diet together play the most integral part of our health.  Without one, the other two suffer.  Prioritizing these three can drastically improve your health, your cognition, and therefore, your business.  

Exercise - Find a physical outlet to let out stress and keep you healthy.  Pick something that you enjoy that you can find some joy in.  The work will always be there, so if you’re not in a productive mental state, go for a walk, a run, play some squash, or whatever it is that brings you joy and gets you into your flow state.

Diet - Eat things that make you feel good, and avoid things that you don’t. I’m not going to tell you to go vegan or drop gluten, but instead, listen to your body and eat the food that fuels you. Indulging in food that brings you pure joy is a necessary component for the sake of your sanity.  Some things that truly don’t help, as much as people don’t want to admit it: alcohol and caffeine.  Alcohol is not going to help, it is a hindrance.  Caffeine helps temporarily, but really is a zero sum game.  In The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey talks about how it’s important to know how your body reacts to food, caffeine and alcohol, and then choose your diet accordingly.

Sleep - We all know sleep is important, but it’s scary how important it truly is - and as business owners, how we often choose to forgo sleep at every opportunity.  In Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker gives some amazing tips and tricks on how to ensure you’re getting enough R&R, but in reality, we know that the stress of trying to be perfect with all of this can just add more stress.  The key here is to do your best, try to stay consistent, and when you have a few sleepless nights, a couple of beers or some Doritos (my vice of choice) - don’t beat yourself up over it.  You’re human, and it’s all part of the process.

3. Build an Abundance Mindset

Your mindset around your business, and the future goals of your business are key. Early entrepreneurs often get stuck on trying to find the lowest cost option, thinking that they will expense control their way to success.  Really, the control should be around thinking about how to invest in your business for the long term.  What does it look like at a million dollars, and what can you do now to make that journey easier?

Take Avalon client Ceara Crawshaw from Pencil & Paper UX/UI Design who had been grappling with the decision to bring partners into her new agency. She was also trying to decide if she should raise her hourly rate and whether she should learn to do her bookkeeping herself; all while struggling to recruit a part-time junior designer to help her. 

These problems are typical for new businesses who are stretched for time and money. How do you break free from these issues? Ceara had her aha! moment after reading Built to Sell by Jack Warrilow. She explained to me that she needed to incorporate her business and move forward with the intent to build a scalable company. She understood that if she was to stamp out these issues once and for all and work in a company she actually enjoyed, she would need to invest into her business, detach herself from being the technician and build sustainable revenue streams.

Now, she is building the kind of business that she always wanted to work in. She decided not to take on partners at that time because that wouldn’t have supported her goals. Problems become mere obstacles on the way to the greater vision of building a sustainable business. She has broken free from the constraints of scarcity thinking and now understands that investing in the business will pay off. 

4. Rallying Support for Your Cause

Build Internal Support

Outside of keeping yourself as healthy as possible from a physical perspective, leaning on others and finding the right support will make all the difference as you grow.  Although your business is your baby and you want to be involved in all aspects, that just isn’t realistic long term.  When you’re doing anything in your business, you need to think about how you would teach someone else to do it.  

Whether you write it down, or have a colleague or business partner learning it alongside you, it’s important to teach others how to do what you do. It may add time to your day, but eventually you will be able to start delegating tasks out to others, and begin the process of being able to remove yourself from being an employee in the business.  

This requires an ego check, and really will force you to remain humble, but if you want to grow, and want to create a sustainable lifestyle for yourself - you need to lean on others and allow others to eventually take the reins.

Build Outside Support

You also need to find trusted allies, and those who might understand what you’re going through as a business owner. Your significant other, your friends and family likely won’t understand the stress, and you won’t want to burden them with the day to day stress that comes with being an entrepreneur. You might find that you start to separate yourself from others in a way, as they don’t understand the decisions you make, and that your success or failures are laid bare for everyone to see. 

No one is really going to understand what you’re going through, aside from other business owners. You need to find people to talk to and confide in, whether it be other business owners, a business partner, or a mentor, or a combination of the three. Finding a coach, a network or a business partner is so important for not only your business, but for your mental wellbeing as well.  Your normal support network for your social life no longer is accessible here, and you need to find another avenue of business owners who understand what you’re going through.  

Building your network and making sure that others know what you’re trying to do is a great way to not only create a support system for yourself, but also a sales channel.  Go to networking events, put yourself out there, and be open to meeting new people. You’ll be amazed by the support and the opportunities that can come from this.

Finding A Trusted Mentor

For me, a business partner was the best way for me to first find the support that I needed. Having someone in the same position as you can be incredibly helpful. Even with that support, we quickly realized together that we needed help, so we found a mentor that had been through our situation before.  Mentors are people who have done what you’ve done, and can help provide you a roadmap for success.  

There are three types of mentors to consider, so before reaching out to someone, it’s important to think about what type would be most beneficial for you:  

  1. there are those who know how it is done in theory (the well read), 
  2. there are those who have been around it (they may not have done it themselves, but were around the business enough to understand it), and
  3. there are those who have done it (this is the best option - to have someone who has had the same experience as you and has come out the other side successfully).  

Having a mentor was a game changer for us, and if you’re looking to grow your business and need some support, we would highly recommend going down this avenue.

5. Ego is the Enemy

Another key element of a successful mindset is the delicate balance of our ego. On the one hand, it is an essential element of being an entrepreneur. You need a healthy ego to simply start a business! However, it can also hold us back from creating a truly valuable business that serves us.

That balance comes in a few forms. Here’s a list that I think about when checking my ego:
  1. Why am I holding onto this task/responsibility? Is it to feel important or is it what I do best?
  2. Do I really want to be the face of my company for the long term?
  3. Is this opportunity an opportunity for the business or is it just stroking my ego?
  4. Am I just being defensive about this bad feedback? How can I take responsibility for my part and take control?

The delicate balance is that sometimes you are a tool of the business. You must serve the business for it to ultimately serve you. It’s a bit of a paradox and the only way to know whether you are doing something for the business and not your ego is to be honest with yourself. The result is that the business starts to support you and your higher goals, rather than your ego’s lower goals.

Putting into Action: Take Some Risks

The goal of this post is, much like the Strategy episode, to set the groundwork for success. A little planning in these areas will help immensely during the growth of your business.

Once you’ve laid the foundation for yourself by having a healthy mind and body, finding support within your business and externally, and you feel as though your business is solid and ready for growth, you will be able to gauge whether you are on the right track. With a solid strategy and mindset, your decisions will be based on solid grounding and you can start to take calculated risks.

Those risks could be reaching out to a business coach, creating a process and delegating a key area of the business to an employee, or trying a new marketing strategy to increase your sales.  Perfectionism is not the goal here.  You make your best decisions based on the information you have and fix the mistakes as they arise.  

You can look at everything 6 ways from Sunday, and something can still pop up that you didn’t consider.  It’s about taking mistakes and feedback to make the business stronger.  The stronger that your internal processes are, and the stronger your strategy is, you will be left with more opportunity for success, and you’ll become more resilient when bouncing back from failures.  

In the next episode we will be covering Sales and Marketing for small businesses. We’ll cover strategies to ensure you are getting the best possible results from your investments.

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Article by
Joe Collins, CPA, CA
Originally published
June 14, 2022
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