The importance of a growth mindset in small business

Growth mindset in small business

The importance of a growth mindset in small business

Having a growth mindset in small business is essential to success. We learn and improve from being comfortable about making mistakes and learning from them, embracing challenges, taking on negative feedback, not feeling threatened by the success of others and being resilient.

So what exactly is a growth mindset?

In the education sector, psychologist Carol Dweck’s work on fixed and growth mindsets is well-known. Over 30 years ago, after studying the behaviour of thousands of children, Dweck and her colleagues coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. There are people who believe intelligence can be developed (growth mindset) and people who believe intelligence is fixed (fixed mindset). Attributes of fixed and growth mindsets are outlined in the table below.

How does having a growth mindset in small business help?

It’s important as small business owners that we learn and develop our skills and knowledge over time. To grow or strengthen our businesses and achieve our goals requires sustained effort, facing challenges and setbacks, as well as  learning and doing new things.

A growth mindset in small business gives us freedom and the opportunity to improve and flourish. Whereas a fixed mindset is limiting and means we are not adaptable enough. That can directly impact our success.

We have seen this recently with the impacts of the pandemic. Many of us have had to change how our businesses operate, and show resilience and persistence. But even without such crises we need a growth mindset. Running a small business requires skills across a wide range of areas. Such as customer service, marketing, branding, sales, systems and processes, technology and financial management. We generally aren’t experts in all (or many!) of these areas. Instead we learn and improve as we go along, with consistent effort, tackling obstacles as they arise, watching others and trial and error.

At Beyond Business Groups we are passionate about fostering growth mindsets and lifelong learning. We know it’s crucial to continuously improve knowledge, skills and practices as small business owners. It’s the reason we developed our program!

We’re all a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets

Having a growth mindset is a journey. It involves small, progressive shifts in thinking, rather than giant steps. Most of us don’t just have a fixed or growth mindset. We are a mixture. And it can vary day-to-day, and in different parts of our lives.

As Dweck says, ‘Nobody has a Growth Mindset in everything all the time. Everyone is a mixture of Fixed and Growth Mindsets. You could have a predominant Growth Mindset in an area but there can still be things that trigger you into a Fixed Mindset trait.’ [‘How Praise Became a Consolation Prize’, The Atlantic, December 16, 2016.]

For example your capacity to take on negative feedback or respond to a poor review may be limited, but your interest in seeking out experts to learn from may be on the side of growth mindset. When faced with a challenging situation do you feel anxious and have negative self-talk? When you see someone else succeed do you dwell on feelings of inadequacy? Becoming self-aware can help you identify areas where you can move to a more growth-oriented mindset, and identify fixed mindset triggers.

Ten tips to shift towards a growth mindset in small business

  1. Give consistent time and effort to working on your business.
  2. Set learning goals. Set a new goal for every one you accomplish so you never stop learning.
  3. Reward your effort and actions, not necessarily the end result.
  4. Choose ‘Goldilocks’ tasks (not too hard, not too easy, just right) for continuous improvement.
  5. Try to view challenges you face as opportunities.
  6. Anticipate risk and be confident to take calculated risks.
  7. Cultivate your resilience and prepare for dealing with difficult situations.
  8. Reflect on mistakes objectively. Instead of focusing on your deficiencies, focus on what you have learned and how to apply it to your business.
  9. Learn how to give and receive constructive criticism.
  10. Practice gratitude and regularly reflect on your learning.

Develop a growth mindset with Beyond Business Groups

Being part of Beyond Business Groups can help you orient to a growth mindset. You commit to regularly working on your business, and across all areas. With your small group of peers you develop positive, trusting relationships to support each other and learn together. 

  • Challenges: You can embrace challenges, sharing them with your group to get different ideas, perspectives and insights/experience on similar challenges.
  • Obstacles: With your group supporting you, you can persist to overcome obstacles and setbacks.
  • Effort: Being a part of Beyond Business Groups means you put regular time and effort into learning and working on your business.
  • Criticism: You can seek input and feedback from your group. It’s a safe space to be open and vulnerable.
  • Success of others: We encourage our members to take some time at each monthly meeting to celebrate their small and big successes, and those of the others in your group.

Find out more about our program and how it works here. We’d love you to join us!

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