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Real Edge

Having an Open Mind

A super-critical ingredient for business success is having an open mind. Over many years of dealing with small to medium privately owned businesses, one of the key differences I’ve found between successful businesses and unsuccessful ones, is that successful business owners understand that they do not know everything, and therefore seek advice from whoever they think may help them improve their business.   On the flip side, unsuccessful business owners generally spend a lot of their time and energy justifying their own assumptions, or what they think they know.  It’s an intriguing phenomenon that often business owners who are struggling don’t believe that another’s insight can help.

Contributing to this mindset is the old chestnut that often we don’t know what we don’t know.  So it makes sense that, they believe they have tried everything to improve their business and make it more profitable – and there’s just nothing else that could be done that would make a difference.  The truth is that every single business in the world can be improved; and be made more profitable.

Having a constantly opened mind is not always that easy – it requires making yourself vulnerable.  However when you make the effort, having an open mind permeates to others, who then become more opened minded towards you.  Also, open-minded business owners are more appealing to others, because they’re authentic and self-confident enough to admit that they don’t know everything, and could be wrong.

Dick Smith, one of Australia’s most successful business people, building his empire to a net worth of over $50million, was a high school drop-out.  Dick puts most of his success down to asking for advice and always having an open mind. 

Ok I get it, but how do I practice keeping an open mind?  4 Quick Tips:

  1. Don’t make rash decisions, or rash statements.  Absorb new information, take a deep breath, and seek further understanding or advice before making your move.
  2. Thank people for their suggestions.  When employees, friends or family members make suggestions, it’s only because they want to help – so don’t get defensive.  Also never dismiss suggestions immediately.  Often ‘silly’ suggestions turn into great ideas with a bit of manipulation.
  3. Constantly be on the lookout for new opportunities – take the blinkers off.  Look at what else is working for others in your industry.  How could you change things up, to even improve on what the best are doing?
  4. Listen more than you talk.  This is an old one, but is something we all need reminding of.  You’ll be amazed at how much more beneficial conversations become when you do this.

Being open minded somehow sees you perpetually seeking and discovering new opportunities that you would have otherwise missed.

It’s often said that the most important skill for a business owner to have is the ability to notice and identify great opportunities.  Being able to do this requires two things:

  1. A clear Vision of where your business is heading
  2. An open mind

We all grow as people, and as business owners through experiences.  It’s very hard to build on experiences without an open mind.

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder, than closed by belief

Gerry Spence  

Real Edge

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