The Mental Game of Business


Being a successful entrepreneur is a contact sport, and like any contact sport not only must you be physically prepared but equally importantly, you must develop the mental habits that are vital for success. Over the years, I have come to appreciate that there are two primary facets to running a successful business – the practical and the psychological. The practical component to running a successful business involves acquiring or hiring people with the appropriate skills and knowledge-base that are fundamental to running the business. In addition to business-specific technical competence, I have found that some of those critical skills include book-keeping, marketing and advertising, and strategising.

Let’s talk about the psychological aspect of running a business for a minute. Firstly, when it comes to their books, business owners should make a point of meeting with their book-keeper at least monthly. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters for any business is the bottom line and ensuring business success requires keeping a close eye on the numbers. By meeting regularly with their accountant, successful business-owners are better positioned to study the profitability of their business as well as its cash flow movements; and in so doing, identify and resolve any problem areas quickly. Secondly, successful business owners appreciate the power of effective marketing – both from a cost and impact perspective. Many business owners greatly underestimate the value of marketing their businesses to the appropriate customers and using the appropriate advertising medium. Often times, advertising campaigns are expensive and do not produce the expected results because the adverts have been targeted at the incorrect client-demographic, the message has been ineffective and inappropriate advertising media have been utilised.  The guideline to successfully marketing one’s business is clearly identifying the following elements – identifying the correct the target market, creating an impactful message that resonates with the target market and lastly utilising the most appropriate advertising medium. Using this guideline not only increases the hit-rate of the advertising but also saves money in the long term. Marketing is the life-line of any business and should always be top of mind. Without marketing, there are no clients and without clients, there is no business. Thirdly, successful business owners strategise. It must become routine for business owners to conduct a quarterly or half-yearly examination of their business in order to evaluate what is working, what is not working, where more effort needs to be applied, where costs need to be cut, if suppliers need to be changed, if sales are improving, the sort of training their staff require, if customers are happy with the service and so on. The outcomes of such analysis will then inform their strategy forward. Regular strategy sessions not only keep a business-owner closely in tune with their business, but it also creates a robust business that is regularly being modified for maximum productivity and efficiency.

The second key facet of running a successful business is the psychological. Like any sport, running a business has a mental component to it. Any high-performance athlete will tell you that in addition to physical training, the importance of self-belief as a mental advantage cannot be overstated. Any accomplishment in life or business begins with belief. Without belief, even the most uninspiring of dreams remain unfulfilled; yet with belief, true belief, many men have achieved what most would have at some point considered impossible. Self-belief is the singular factor that separates success from failure and it is through the power of self-belief that people have been able to face business setbacks and challenges only to bounce back stronger and more successful.

The degree of success enjoyed by people is directly related to how much success they truly believe they can achieve. It all starts in your head. If your thoughts are that your business will still remain a medium-size business in say 5 years, your effort and performance levels will be in line with this belief and that is exactly what you will get. If instead your belief is that you will turn your small business into a multi-million rand business in 5 years, you will be amazed at how your effort levels will be elevated in line with this belief. Not only will your physical endeavours increase in line with this belief, but what you will find equally astounding is how your mind will begin to hone in on opportunities, resources and means that will propel you towards this inspiring goal. Our actions always follow our beliefs

Think about it – someone who truly desires to turn their small enterprise into a multi-million rand business someday will have a very different attitude and behaviour pattern from another who simply sees their business as remaining permanently small scale. The former will get up earlier, sleep later, plan more, work harder, invest more in their business, use their time more productively, think more creatively, constantly seek out opportunities, invest in themselves, empower themselves, make the most of every situation, complain less, be more proactive, network with people more, persistently pursue their goal, apply discipline in their lives and so on. Our beliefs drive our actions, and it is our actions that will in turn determine the results we get in life, both good and bad.

Success does not occur by accident, but rather through powerful self-belief supported by persistent and intentional action towards the intended goal.

Femi Adebanji


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