Two electrical contractors work in the same community. Their skill set, market focus, demographics, pricing and customer service philosophies are essentially identical. At one time they were friends, but one business continued growing and enjoying success while the other never grew past the start-up phase.

Both started with a workforce of only one employee and themselves. Three years later, one has five employees, an enhanced profit margin and not only has paid off a great deal of debt, but is able to vacation with his family. The second businessman had to downsize, leaving himself and a bookkeeper, and had to sell one of the company’s trucks.

When we carve away excuses, blame and denial, it comes down to one critical factor. Mindset becomes one of the core differentiators between success and lack of success. Notice I didn’t say failure. So often in the second scenario, the owner muddles along, able to pay bills and to pay employees. However, failure is usually just a heartbeat away.

The economic blip (remember 2008?), weather fluctuations, illness; almost anything can change the status quo.

Why is mindset such a paradox?

• Comfort zone. How far out of your zone are you willing to go? Do you have a mindset of scarcity, that there aren’t enough customers willing to pay what I want? Do you have a mindset of abundance: There are lots of customers; I need to define which ones I want and which ones want our products and services?

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• Perception of failure. Does the phrase “fail early and fail often“ give you goosebumps or send you running and screaming out of the room? Does fear of failure keep you from trying something new or unconventional? “Fail early and fail often” relates to trying new things, determining if they work, and move forward or let the concept go and try something else.

• Desire to learn. When did you last read a book about business, sales, or personal growth that wasn’t directly related to your industry? Do you thirst for new ideas of leading, managing, motivating and growing yourself and your team?

• Attitude. Ownership, accountability and responsibility are the foundation of the mindset paradox, countered by blame, excuses and denial. Being in denial is lying to yourself. We use excuses (just dressed-up reasons) such as: I don’t have time, I can’t find good employees, my customers are cheap, my customers or employees don’t appreciate what we do for them, etc.  Pick up a mirror and repeat this: “I am the one responsible for my time, hiring and educating my customers on the value of my services.”

How does this tie to family business ownership? The business can have a greater challenge with mindset. The lack of regular accountability allows for a greater chance of negative mindset. We get stuck in the status quo, blaming lack of time to learn, being comfortable where we are and wanting to stay that way; leading to greater risk of failure.

What was the first owner’s mindset?

• He was eager to ask for feedback and was open to it, no matter how difficult. He implemented lessons learned and measured the success.

• Every day was filled with gratitude. He was grateful when a customer shared how service could improve (yes, even the best companies get complaints). He felt an employee problem was an opportunity to improve his team. He was grateful for everything, no matter how difficult.

• He was a business owner first and electrical contractor second. Without systems, marketing, strong financials and strong fundamentals, he knew he couldn’t allow the business to grow.

• Marketing and sales were most important. He was good at sales and worked to improve how he sold on a daily basis.

• A mindset of hope, responsibility, love, feedback, action, solutions, abundance, clarity, and acceptance were at the heart and soul of the business.

Which owner do you resemble, and how will that change your future? n CSBJ

Janna Hoiberg is an executive and leadership business coach, author of “The Family Business: How to Be in Business With People You Love … Without Hating Them.” Find more at