At one time or another, we have all questioned whether we have what it takes to make it in business. There are countless checklists and personality assessments available online to supposedly help you determine your natual business aptitude. They can be fun, thought-provoking, and interesting, but it would be best to ignore the results. Most of these tests ask questions like “are you an optimist?” or, “are you a good leader?” They pose the cliché and superficial questions “are you creative?” and “do you work well with people?”
No one is an optimist all of the time and being overly optimistic at the wrong time can actually lead to making poor business decisions. A successful businesswoman often needs to be a team player—or serve as an inspiration—and not insist on always being in the lead. Having an open mind is far more important than being a “creative” person and rather than claiming to be a people person, it is much more useful to have a good understanding of the people you will be working with.
All people cannot be lumped into one category, so being a “people person” is not a requirement in business. More important is the ability to put your personal feelings aside to make logical, fact-based business decisions—not emotional decisions to please other people.
Three Qualities to Develop
There are three very simple qualities entrepreneurs should have—or be willing to develop—that are meaningful assets for starting and running a business successfully. Notice the key word here is “develop,” not “already have”—the desire, willingness, and ability to learn new skills and habits can contribute to any businesswoman’s success.
One of these qualities is an attitude you can adopt, one is a skill that can be easily learned, and the third is a personality trait few of us come by naturally but which can be mastered with a little practice.
- Best Business Attitude: A refusal to quit when things get tough.
- Most Valuable Skill: Networking. Networking. Networking.
- Strongest Personality Trait: Having thick skin (being objective).
An optimist might look at the bright side of things and serve as an inspiration to keep pressing forward, but a pessimist may assess things more realistically and make less risky decisions. Either way, it is not necessarily how you see a situation, but how you respond to a situation that will either hinder or facilitate your success in business. A true entrepreneurial attitude requires refusing to quit when things get tough.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs have to do things that they are not happy about in the short-term but are glad they did in the long-run. In fact, some people who see an accomplishment as less than ideal may work harder to achieve even better results. Refusing to give up on something should not be confused with just being stubborn—the key difference between being stubborn and being tenacious is that stubbornness stands in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change, while a “can do” attitude works through problems by considering a variety of solutions.
Few things will help you establish and grow your business faster than a creating a strong network. No one person knows it all or can do it all, so if you isolate yourself and your thoughts, you isolate your business as well. Having access to a variety of resources can increase your efficiency and knowledge, your business’ publicity, and your chances of succeeding.
If you do not have much face-to-face contact with others in your field, you can still work on building a business network in other ways. Start by joining professional groups online, developing press releases, brochures, and other written communications.
Another great way to build networks is to simply participate in forums, e-mail discussion lists, and chat rooms that somehow relate to your business or the type of customer you want to attract. Use personal and other social opportunities
to network yourself and your business and always have a business card
handy when an opportunity to make business connections presents itself.
If you take everything personally you will have a much harder time accepting ideas and change, and you will never get the most out of your business or your employees. Having a thick skin is crucial to success, as you will need to be willing to listen to new ideas and actively solicit the opinions of others. Always treasure new ideas and opposing opinions, don’t rebuke them.
The ability to accept constructive criticism will help your business stay on the cutting edge and avoid potential problems you might not be able to see on your own. By showing that you value the opinions and advice of others, you will appear more approachable to your peers, employees, and customers.
Even if you do not actually follow others’ suggestions, the more you ask what they think, the more valued they will feel and the more loyalty they will have to you and your business. In other words, simply by soliciting input from other people you create a positive mini-public relations
network. People will talk about you and how your business is run so you should help them find positive things to talk about.
- Networking Beginnings: Ask others about their challenges, successes, and if they have any advice about your own business ideas. This is the first step to begin building your network.
- Do Not Give Up: When they say you are crazy, listen to their concerns, but don’t just give up on your idea. Instead, reassess its value from other points of view.
To evaluate if you have what it takes to make it in business you do not need to answer questions in self-assessment quizzes; instead, you should be asking your own questions. Talk to other business women, peers, colleagues, family, and friends—anyone you might be able to learn from. Just be sure to listen to the answers with more than just your ears and remember, it helps to have a thick skin.
A brief, no fluff, summary of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Techniques in Handling People
- Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Six ways to make people like you
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Win people to your way of thinking
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
- If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
- Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
- Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
- Appeal to the nobler motives.
- Dramatize your ideas.
- Throw down a challenge.
Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
- Let the other person save face.
- Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
- Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
- Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
- Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment. …. Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
That reminds me of this famous quote by Thomas Carlyle: “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.”
On dealing with people
When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
[T]he only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
On the secret of success
If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.
Friends can challenge us, confuse us, and sometimes, we might wonder why we bother. But friendship is as important to our wellbeing as eating right and exercising. What’s more, friendships help us grow through each year of our lives.
The friends we meet in school teach us how to be patient, wait our turn, reach out, and try new hobbies. When we move into young adulthood we learn more about taking responsibility, finding a career path, and seeking out people as mentors.
As we continue into our 40s and beyond, we learn to weather the ups and downs in life, and once again friends provide a sounding board and place for us to grow. Friendship is key to our success with all our relationships and it can create a sense of purpose in our lives.
Friends Help Us Interact With Just About Everyone
The people we bring into our lives as friends will show us how to forgive, laugh, and make conversation. The basic components of any relationship, from our marriage to our coworkers, are all founded in friendship. We learn how to interact with people because of our friends, even the ones that are opposite from us or share a different worldview.
We don’t just talk with others but learn from them. We understand the process of meeting new acquaintances and finding out what makes them tick. These people help push us out of our comfort zones while still providing a safe emotional space for us to be totally ourselves.
Friends Keep Us Mentally and Physically Strong
One of the most overlooked benefits of friendship is that it helps keep our minds and bodies strong. In fact, it’s as important to our physical health as eating well and keeping fit. A recent Harvard study concluded that having solid friendships in our life even helps promote brain health.
Friends helps us deal with stress, make better lifestyle choices that keep us strong, and allow us to rebound from health issues and disease more quickly.
Friendship is equally important to our mental health. One study even suggested spending time with positive friends actually changes our outlook for the better. That means we’re happier when we choose to spend time with happy people. (All the more reason to leave that toxic friendship behind.)
Friends Help Us Weather Lonely Times
Friends don’t completely cure loneliness (that’s a common myth) but they do help us during lonely times. We learn how to accept kindness and also to reach out when we need help. Those painful times when we might be without friends also help us to appreciate the friendships that come in and out of our lives.
Having a steady stream of friends lets us know that some friendships won’t last forever but each one brings something special. We learn more about ourselves and how important it is to have someone, just one person, who knows and understands you. This is the key to coming out of loneliness.
Friends Improve the Quality of Our Lives
Friends can change our value system so we learn to inject more meaning into our lives.
In spending time with friends, we fill up our lives with great conversation, heartfelt caring and support, and laugh out loud fun. When we fall on hard times, friends are there to put things in perspective and help us. When we have success, they’re smiling at our good fortune. With down-to-earth, positive people in our life we will be more mindful of gratitude and doing nice things for others. We don’t just live when we have healthy friendships, we thrive.
BY STAFF AUTHOR
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 23, 2017
Author: Louise Smith, an excerpt from GAIAM
Chances are at some time in your life, you’ve made a New Year’s resolution — and then broken it. This year, stop the cycle of resolving to make change and then not following through. If your resolution is to take better care of yourself and get healthy, you will have a much better year if your resolution sticks. Here are ten tips to help you get started.
1. BE REALISTIC
The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, resolving to NEVER eat your favorite food again is setting you up to fail. Instead, strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding it more often than you do now.
2. PLAN AHEAD
Don’t make your resolution on New Year’s Eve. If you wait until the last minute, it will be based on your mindset that particular day. Instead, it should be planned well before December 31st arrives.
3. OUTLINE YOUR PLAN
Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or have that piece of cake. This could include calling on a friend for help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your “bad” will affect your goal.
4. MAKE A “PROS” AND “CONS” LIST
It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time, and ask others to contribute to it. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.
5. TALK ABOUT IT
Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best-case scenario is to find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and motivate each other.
6. REWARD YOURSELF
This doesn’t mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to eat a better diet. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something you enjoy that doesn’t contradict your resolution. If you have been sticking to your promise to eat better, for example, reward yourself with new fitness clothing or by going to a movie with a friend.
7. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Keep track of each small success. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and each small accomplishment will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, focus on losing the first five. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track, and reward yourself for each five pounds lost.
8. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
Obsessing over the occasional slip won’t help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take one day at a time.
9. STICK TO IT
Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. It won’t happen overnight, so be persistent and patient!
10. KEEP TRYING
If you have totally run out of steam when it comes to keeping your resolution by mid-February, don’t despair. Start over again! Recommit yourself for 24 hours. You can do anything for 24 hours. The 24-hour increments will soon build on each other and, before you know it, you will be back on track.
What are your New Year’s goals?